LAS VEGAS--Yesterday, on June 21, Scott Gutz, CEO of Amadeus told the audience at Vacation.com's 13th International Conference & Trade Show that it is imperative for travel agents to keep up with modern technology, or else they would get lost in the shuffle. At today's breakfast general session, Mike Batt, president of Travel Leaders Group lived up to Gutz's advice.
Batt announced to the audience of more than 1,300 agents and preferred suppliers that Travel Leaders Group (of which Vacation.com is a part) will be launching its own merchant hotel model robust online booking system that will give agents a competitive advantage over online travel agencies (OTAs).
"The best online businesses make money doing nothing," Batt told a chuckling audience during today's Executive Panel, featuring Vacation.com President John Lovell and Bert Rivero, vice president of Travel Leaders Group. "What we did was take the Expedia model for our agents and are in the process of creating an online presence for them."
The merchant hotel program, which now has 70,000 hotels in the database with a goal of 120,000, will allow agents to have their own online booking system. Customers can logon at any time on any day and book their own hotels. The site will take their credit card information, process it and a commission check will be sent to the agent. What gives this model the advantage over OTAs? If the client changes is or her mind, the site will allow direct contact with the travel agent who can fix the problem.
"We want the customers to come to you," Batt said. "You will be making money in your sleep." This service will be available to all members across the Travel Leaders Group board including Vacation.com, Nexion, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Leisure Group, Travel Leaders Franchise Group, and Tzell Travel.
To a room full of applause Batt concluded, "We will be working diligently to create this for you. It is such a great proposition."
Travel Agent spoke with several agents after the conference, all of whom were wowed and excited about this game changing announcement. Norbert Kotscha of KVI Travel in Canada told us, "This is really a game changer. I will definitely tell agents about this program who are not currently part of the Travel Leaders Group umbrella."