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Omega World Travel became the first travel management company to deploy Sabre Travel Studios' TripCase mobile application, which is available on BlackBerry, iPhone/iTouch and Windows Mobile devices. Android connectivity is anticipated later this quarter.
TripCase is free to users, and terms of the agreement between Omega and Sabre were not disclosed. The partnership will allow Omega to send customized post-booking messaging to travelers. For passenger name records booked in the Sabre global distribution system, the app offers automated syncing and updates on itinerary changes.
TripCase services also include automatic e-mail import of itinerary details; flight updates, alerts and notifications; trip-specific messages; flight departure and arrival status; baggage claim location; gate changes; travel itinerary sharing and car rental shuttle information, according to Sabre.
Other tech providers have offered itinerary-based mobile apps to the managed travel space. TripIt last year announced plans to roll out its multi-platform app to BCD Travel users. WorldMate, which has a BlackBerry-based TMC program, in December launched with CTMS of Toronto, Travel Incorporated of Atlanta and Minneapolis-area Interlachen Travel. Global Point Travel Solutions, Protravel International and Short's Travel Management are lined up to implement WorldMate soon, said a WorldMate sales official.
In a prepared statement, Omega CEO Gloria Bohan suggested TripCase would support communication, risk management and corporate responsibility. According to Sabre Travel Studios SVP John Samuel, "Beyond merely keeping travelers informed, corporations working with progressive TMCs can utilize this platform to enhance collaboration, drive usage of preferred suppliers, and more."
Omega users will register on TripCase's Web site after they book trips, as identified by pseudo city code or using a button on Sabre's traditional emailed Virtually There itineraries. Once registered and assuming proper permissions, travelers may receive messages from Omega that, for example, flag multi-night bookings which do not have a hotel or promote a client's policy hot topics.
Commenting that Omega selected TripCase after a thorough review of competitive offerings, Omega World Travel commercial director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa and vice president for technology Brent Garback proclaimed grand promise for the application--even calling it the "be all and end all."
Since travelers can build their TripCase itineraries by emailing confirmations they receive from suppliers booked almost any way, Garback discussed the possibility of providing clients with reporting on rogue bookings. This is also a service that officials with TripCase's competitors and their clients have hinted at. Nevertheless, "We don't have any agreement with Omega to share traveler data from the phone to what the TMC partner sees," said TripCase director of business development Michael O'Connell. "The traveler still has control over the data with a phone." [O'Connell also noted that bookings which are emailed and imported are not automatically updated as changes occur, whereas those booked in actual Sabre GDS PNRs are automatically synced with TripCase.]
Separately, O'Connell said Sabre may launch during the coming months a premium version--which both TripIt and WorldMate also offer--that would come with a charge to the user. He said it was "still early days" to discuss more details of that, or "revenue opportunities" for TripCase in the travel agency channel. Merchandising opportunities for suppliers and airports also are in the offing, he said.
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