What's New at Vacation.com

Travel Agent sat down with some of Vacation.com new management team in New York City October 10 and found out about the company's upcoming plans—most notably, for its web site and technology solutions. Since taking over in April, President and CEO Steve Tracas promoted Jared Braunstein to vice president of sales for North America and stacked the deck with two former employees, Rodney Pick and Denise Womble, who worked with him at US Airways; Kimberly Oates rejoined as controller. Pick is Tracas' new vice president of financial analysis and business strategy and Womble, vice president of membership services and MIS.  Simon Powell (left) and Steve Tracas

At the Editor's Forum, Vacation.com announced it is looking to revamp its web site. Right now, the actual URL, www.vacation.com, is a bare-bones bridge between consumers and travel agent referrals. Tracas says he wants a more easily navigable site for agents as well as a more user-friendly site with beefed up content for consumers. Tracas also reiterated the potentially controversially scenario of one day making it possible for consumers to book directly from the site. Tracas, who first floated the idea at the consortium's Las Vegas conference, says the trick will be not competing with agents. The question, says Tracas is, "If the consumer (who visits the Vacation.com URL) does not want to be referred (to an agent), do you let them bail out and go to Orbitz or Travelocity...I have the propensity to capture and keep them." Thinking out loud, Tracas says one solution may be to develop a plan for passing any commission back to an agent in the same ZIP code of a customer who books online.

Vacation.com is looking into a partnership with Comtec, a U.K.-based technology company whose desktop solutions and agency management programs constitute a 60 to 65 percent marketshare in that country, according to its CEO Simon Powell. The pair is hoping that Comtec will develop an aggregation tool, so that Vacation.com agents can more easily connect with the consortium's preferred suppliers.

"The intent is to take a number of the preferred suppliers we deal with and put them all on the desktop to allow an agent to mix and match and select the proper combination," Tracas says. The result should be announced in 60 days.

Vacation.com claims more than 5,700 travel agency locations in the U.S. and Canada (30 percent of agencies) and $15 billion in annual sales. It is a subsidiary of Amadeus IT Group, SA.

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