Onsite: The TRADESHOW Draws to a Close

LAS VEGAS-Two technology tools that will assist agents in marketing to clients debuted at The TRADESHOW Travel Retailing and Destination Show: Travel Sciences' OpenTravel CRM and Sabre Virtually There.

Travel Sciences' debuted OpenTravel CRM, a web-based software, which handles all aspects of customer relationship management and bundles that with e-marketing and trip-planning tools, custom itineraries, commission tracking and reporting and accounting-interface functions. Best of all-it's free.

Travel Agent caught up with Mark Hatten, chairman of Travel Science, on the trade floor as the event was winding down. "We've gotten an amazing amount of interest from agents during the show," says Hatten. "What's not to like about free?"

Travel Sciences is promoting OpenTravel CRM as ideal for smaller agencies and home-based agents, as well as larger agencies and consortia that either currently have no access to good quality technology or who have expensive, outdated technology they want to upgrade without taking on additional financial risk. Visit [www.opentravelcrm.com].

Travel Agent also sat down with a team from Sabre Travel Network. "There is tremendous value in agents using Sabre as a one-stop shop," says Chris Kroeger, senior vice president of North America for Sabre Travel Network. "Although our brands and products have also been designed so agents can pick and choose."

Bobby Thomas, marketing manager for Sabre's Virtually There, whipped out his Blackberry to show me how an agent's client can receive travel updates on a cell phone or other web-enabled mobile device. Sabre Virtually There, an impressive new tool that debuted at the conference, can increase an agent's value to their clients. Features include flight notification alerts for current itineraries; expected wait times at TSA security by specific airport location; maps and driving directions via MapQuest; local restaurant, city guide and destination information; and a currency converter tool. In addition, the travel agency's logo pops up in the corner of the mobile device's screen, reminding clients who booked them into a trip providing such cool info. Visit [www.sabretravelnetwork.com].

Near the close of the show, ASTA honored John Haskins, co-owner of Viking Travel Service in Naperville, IL., with ASTA's 2007 Travel Agent of the Year Award; awarded Dave Stockert, director of sales and training for Holland America Line, Inc., with its Lifetime Achievement Award; presented Adam Goldstein, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises, its Allied Member of the Year Award; and inducted Marilyn Carlson Nelson, chair and CEO of Carlson, into ASTA's Hall of Fame.