The importance of technology to agents and the value of investing in technology - by agents and consortia - were underlined by Vacation.com's announced new advancements in member-facing technology.
The recent technology improvements cited by Vacation.com include the development of a consumer booking engine for CruisePRO, better automation to the back-end applications for Cruise Space, configurable permissions for Agent Universe users, and a single sign-on application for Stream. These recent technology innovations are gaining popularity with Vacation.com members, the group says.
“Vacation.com has always been committed to the ongoing investment of money and human capital in all aspects of our business, including member-facing technology. We know it’s important to provide our members with the most-advanced tools and resources to assist in making each member agency run more smoothly and ultimately become more profitable,” said Vacation.com president John Lovell.
“In addition to these new and already established technology programs available, these recent improvements are just a few of the many things we are working on behind the scenes at Vacation.com," Lovell said.
CruisePRO and Introduction of CruisePRO Consumer: Based on feedback from agencies and users, Vacation.com has made enhancements to their proprietary CruisePRO platform, including the launch of CruisePRO Consumer, as well as simplifying the booking process for agents.
Vacation.com said agents using CruisePRO now have the option to subscribe to CruisePRO Consumer. CruisePRO Consumer is a consumer cruise booking engine that is placed directly into the agent’s website, allowing customers to search, compare and book their cruises directly. CruisePRO Consumer benefits include the ability to incorporate agency branding on cruise booking engine pages, a customizable search widget and easy integration into an agent’s existing website.
The booking process for agents using the CruisePRO B2B platform has been simplified by decreasing the total number of steps necessary to complete a booking and reduce scrolling. The goal of these changes is to make the booking process as efficient as possible, Vacation.com said.
In addition, CruisePRO negotiated its first channel-specific exclusive offer with Norwegian Cruise Line.
“This unique offer from Norwegian – exclusive to CruisePRO and Vacation.com – is a win-win because my agency can book online using a dedicated fair code to obtain this robust exclusive offer, which is not available through any other booking channel. Now that the technology has been established, I look forward to future CruisePRO exclusive offers,” said member agent David Schuman of Maryland Heights, MO.
Cruise Space: Vacation.com said its in-house Cruise Space management application is used for input, management, updating, sourcing and invoicing Cruise Space programs (e.g. Distinctive Voyages, Amenity Departure Dates and Culinary Collection). With recent enhancements, Distinctive Voyages and Amenity Departure Dates’ updates and changes will update more quickly and provide additional information when utilizing CruisePRO, VacationPORT, In-Sites and E-Engagement offers. Members will also receive email communication from the Vacation.com Distinctive Voyages team if their bookings qualified for a Distinctive Voyages sailing.
Agent Universe: Vacation.com’s members-only agent Web portal, Agent Universe, is now enabled for configurable permissions to fit the users’ needs, Vacation.com says. Given the difference in preferred suppliers and programs among Vacation.com Canada and U.S. members, each will now have a dedicated view of Agent Universe. U.S. members will only see U.S. preferred suppliers and programs specific to the U.S. member base, while also being able to access content that is shared by both the U.S. and Canada. The same segmentation will also be applied to Canada-based Agent Universe users.
In addition, Agent Universe will now provide a different level of access for agency managers versus their agents, Vacation.com said. This is because agency managers have different levels of administration than their front line agents. Also, if a member participates in Vacation.com’s Inner Circle program, they will have a special zone in Agent Universe with dedicated program offerings and exclusive offers from preferred suppliers.
“There are a wide range of agency types –highly managed, disciplined, sophisticated large agencies, host agencies, predominantly cruise agencies, etc. within Vacation.com that want their agents to be focused on specific programs the agency is utilizing or promoting,” said Vacation.com chief operating officer Tiffany Glass.
“We don’t offer ‘one size fits all’ programs, because we know our members are diverse and utilize different programs, different solutions and different suppliers within the Vacation.com suite. We are allowing for even more highly customizable solutions than ever before," Glass said.
Stream: With access to more than 75,000 hotels and resorts worldwide, the Stream prepaid hotel program now offers a single sign-on from Agent Universe, Vacation.com notes. Stream U.S. and Canadian users will no longer have to remember a user ID and password to access prepaid hotel inventory. Stream is also Live Connect enabled for ClientBase users to reduce re-keying of client information, thus providing higher agency efficiency.
In marketing news, Vacation.com also recently announced its 2014 Bucket List vacations. In partnership with its supplier partners – Globus, Avalon Waterways, Monograms, Celebrity Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and G Adventures – Vacation.com’s Bucket List highlights 20 packages.
Additionally, Vacation.com reported setting a new record for its Engagement promotions. The company reports 183 distinct email and direct mail promotions are scheduled for 2014 as part of its Engagement marketing program.