Onsite: TRAMS Conference Encourages Technology Advancements

LAS VEGAS-At the 11th annual TRAMS conference here this week, Lee Rosen, president and founder of TRAMS, a provider of mid- and back-office solutions, told the room full of travel agent and supplier attendees that 2007 will be an exciting year of technology advancements for the travel industry. "We've seen a lot of technology, but not all of it has been in our favor," Rosen said, alluding to the advent of online agencies like Expedia. Expedia featured prominently in Rosen's welcoming address, as he compared the web-based company to the "offline" travel trade. "We have relations with our clients that Expedia doesn't have, but Expedia's value is 13 times greater," he said, after explaining exactly how much Expedia's annual revenues surpass that of the traditional agency. The reason, he said, is because online agencies like Expedia have access to what he called "database central," which equals buying power, marketing ability and detailed reporting and analysis. While that may sound grim for the brick-and-mortar community, Rosen assured the room that could change if traditional agencies accept a similar technological model. "By outsourcing some functionality like Expedia does with database central, it will allow groups of agencies to function better than one large one," he said. "Through database central we get centralized campaigns, buying power and discover what is working and what's not working." Rooms were full for seminars focused on making an agent's day-to-day tasks easier to manage through the use of products distributed by TRAMS and Sabre, which acquired TRAMS a little over a year ago. Many agents-some potential clients, other attending for their third or fourth time-said they found the TRAMS conference enlightening.