BACK TO BASICS
Elaine Osgood brought a unique
perspective to the travel business
when she formed Atlas Travel International in Milford, Mass., in 1985.
“My background [inner-city
schoolteacher and child-abuse
investigator] was all about building relationships, and I continue
to do that with my computer,” the
Elaine Osgood, president, Atlas
Atlas president reported in a Travel
Weekly Agent Life profile in May.
At Atlas, she developed a solid
business plan and a new kind of
software (see story this page) that
frees up agents to build those relationships. As Rock Blanco, Atlas’
chief technology officer, put it, “We
talk to our customers, and it always
comes back to the basics: best
price; calls returned on a timely basis; making travel easier.”
AGENCY SOFT ON SOFTWARE
Agency cashes in on technology
By Fred Gebhart
It used to be that “travel technology” meant the GDSs, a cli- SOFTWARE THAT LINKS PEOPLE
ent database, e-mail, the Internet. For some agencies, how- Got a question about an itinerary
ever, it’s a lot more than that. Atlas Travel International, for that just showed up on your com-
example, is using robots . puter screen or BlackBerry? One click
opens a telephone line to talk to the
Not R2-D2 robots or ma- agent who handled the reservation.
chines in human form, bu t Need to change a flight midtrip?
software robots. The result s Drag the existing reservation to a new
are a retail dream come true . time slot on screen and Atlas creates
From $19 million in 2002 a menu of flights that meet customer
sales, the Milford, Mass. , preferences or corporate travel rules.
agency expects to hit a record Pick one, and Atlas software updates
$80 million this year as wel l the PNR, issues a new electronic tick-as record profits. et and adjusts for change fees and dif-Rock Blanco, Atlas’ chief technol - ferences in ticket prices.
ogy officer, credits software robotics ating areas,” Blanco said. “That leaves Prefer to ski in July and save Janu-operating in the office, on the Inter- our people more time to do what they ary for a warm-weather vacation?
net and in customers’ offices. do best, providing the kind of service Atlas microsegments the customer
“I use technology to replace tasks our clients would ask for if they knew base into more than 100 categories to
that people do in nonrevenue-gener- it was available.” more precisely target e-mails.
Our agents receive the best
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COMPETITION SPURS IMAGINATION
Blanco launched microsegmenting in 2005 and saw cross-sell rates
jump 20%. Cross-selling soared 60%
during the crucial November leisure-travel planning season.
“When I’m up against Travelocity
and Expedia, I need every competitive advantage I can get,” Blanco said.
“Technology means you don’t have to
be the biggest to be the best.”
Plenty of travel companies have
turned to software for tedious but
vital back-office tasks. Some agencies
are harnessing technology to manage
document delivery, travel insurance
sales and other repetitive tasks.
Atlas builds technology into as
many facets of travel as Blanco and
President Elaine Osgood can imagine.
Between them, the two have been able
to imagine a lot, including customer
data-tracking that frees Atlas from
GDS reliance and CRM (customer
relationship management) tools that