When Flight Centre, a multinational travel company based in Brisbane, Australia, piloted the Travelport Universal Desktop, “they reexamined the entire way they did business,” Travelport chief commercial officer Kurt Ekert said.
They re-engineered their entire business around it,” he said. “They’ve done a great job of leveraging every piece of it.”
The Universal Desktop is “a very complex piece of technology,” he said, and it will take more training than the Travelport Smartpoint App. (See “Reporter’s Diary: A Look Inside Travelport’s Smartpoint App”)
It comes in two versions: the off-the-shelf product or a configurable version.
Jason Nash, vice president of product innovation, said a key feature is that Travelport added fare rules into the workflow, so that the quality control is done “before the customer is on the plane.”
Feedback on Desktop demo
In a demonstration of the Desktop during Travelport’s recent media event in Atlanta, Richard Bryant, senior manager of product development, described it as a CRM-based system that pre-populates much of the customer’s information, such as home airport and passport details, and applies all corporate policy and loyalty program status. Suppliers, for example, can show rates based on the customer’s status.
Among the observers of the demo was Scott Pawley, managing director of U.K.-based Global Travel Management Ltd., which has been using the Universal Desktop for six months.
During that time, the agency has not incurred a single agent debit memo, and he attributes that to the Desktop’s built-in quality control features.
The Desktop will pull content from multiple sources beyond the GDS, he said, including airlines’ own systems, and will display it in an integrated fashion.
“It’s the first time we’ve seen all those fares integrated this way,” Pawley said.
Hotel, car search capabilities
Agents can search for hotel rooms using methods borrowed from the consumer online world: They can locate hotels on a map and use the mouse to hover over properties for rates and more information.
Search results for rental cars include pictures of the vehicles, which ought to please car rental suppliers who offer unusual cars for leisure travelers, such as Corvettes.
In both hotel and car searches for business travelers, corporate policy is automatically applied.
All selected trip components are placed in a “trip cart” for final comparison. Ultimately, all booked components go into a single “super PNR,” regardless of whether they are GDS or non-GDS content.