Mid-Office Providers Enhancing Offerings - Business Travel News

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Mid-Office Providers Enhancing Offerings

March 17, 2008 - 12:00 AM ET

By Seth Harris

Next month, two of the largest agency mid-office reservation processing providers, Cornerstone Information Systems and TRX, will further deploy enhancements to their platforms to drive efficiencies.

Cornerstone's automated airline schedule change management feature monitors, amends and communicates to agencies and travelers changes and inactive segments on passenger name records, shielding buyers from paying airline penalty fees, which often cost $3.50 per segment with a $50 administration charge (BTNonline, Feb. 1). Meanwhile, TRX is testing with small and midsize agency users components of its reconfigured Correx platform, which includes component purchasing and agency programming abilities designed to cut implementation time and yield a lower-cost model, particularly in high-growth international markets.

Earlier this year, GDSX, the other significant supplier in this category, began generating its own reservation data reports through its enhanced Compleat mid-office platform. Previously, it had only exported data into external reporting software. The reports configure data by organizational hierarchy, so it can be delivered to the appropriate people within a corporation or agency. GDSX also streamlined rules programming across global distribution systems by implementing a common system that caters to larger agencies using multiple GDSs or organizations changing GDSs, according to CEO Jon Farrier.

Cornerstone's IQCX mid-office platform also applies rules management functions and will notify an agency or traveler if schedule changes place a traveler outside of policy. "Based on reasonable policy, you can automate close to 85 percent of schedule changes," said Cornerstone president and CEO Mat Orrego, who estimated that 15 percent of all reservations have schedule changes, often requiring manual intervention to duplicate and reconfigure PNRs. In January, IQCX processed 915,000 PNRs for the four travel management companies that have used the feature for more than a year.

TRX internally rolled out the updated Correx Gen6 (BTNonline, July 23, 2007) in the United States, Europe and Asia last year, and at year-end began testing some additional components, including a new communications and e-mail module. In January, it added a new connectivity layer with IBM WebSphere software, enabling corporate accounts and agencies to control their processes within Correx and speed integration from hours to minutes, according to vice president and general manager of reservation processing Darrin Deck. TRX will transition all Correx users to Gen6.

Correx handles reservation processing in many Asia/Pacific countries, including Singapore, India and Hong Kong, Deck said. TRX also is expanding data reporting and reservation processing in Europe with Expedia and American Express in Asia.

This year, Cornerstone plans to garner international clients through equity stakes in joint ventures or partnerships, and GDSX plans to directly sell and market Compleat in Europe and Asia/Pacific.

Steve Reynolds, a former TRX executive who now is executive vice president of business process outsourcing company WNS, said, "The significant market for the mid-office is Europe, where there is content fragmentation and where content sits outside the global distribution systems and where many bookings are still going through traditional travel management companies."
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