Many people ask us how TTS came up with the idea of Travelport Mobile Agent. The man behind the concept, Rui Figueiredo, COO at TTS, reveals the whole story. So bare with us, it is pretty fascinating.
“After working for so many years with and for the Travel Agents, I’ve learned how difficult their work is and how often they need to put their private life aside to take care of their travellers.
Travel Agents are like doctors
When a patient is in pain, the doctor has to be there, right? Well, when a traveller is in need, the Travel Agent is the doctor. He needs to stop whatever he is doing and focus on the problem at hand, like finding a flight because a traveller urgently needs to come back home, or because he/she has just missed a flight. No matter what the reason is, the Travel Agent is the kind of professional that is always there for the customer.
In 2010, due to the Volcanic ash cloud, I saw my Travel Agents-colleagues working 24-hour shifts, over the weekend, just being there for the travellers, finding alternatives, accommodation, etc.
Travel Agents still depend on old systems to service their customers
Now, in the 21st century, technology is expected to solve most of the Travel Agents’ pain points, but in fact it has not.
Travel Agents still depend on old systems to service their customers. They all need computers with Microsoft Windows and most of them only run within the corporate network.
That’s one of the reasons a Travel Agent often carries his/her heavy laptop everywhere. It’s the “just in case” situation. Others take a risk, and leave the laptop in the office. But then they end up driving back to solve some urgent need.
Most of the times, it only takes a couple of minutes for a Travel Agent to do what he needs to do on the GDS. Yet it takes ages to get in front of a GDS terminal, mostly because they need to run back to the office or grab the laptop, boot windows, access internet, run the VPN, start the GDS terminal… so you can see all the hustle and bustle!
What makes everything more challenging for the travel agents is the fact that we live in the mobile age, when travellers have apps for everything, when everything they do is on mobile and so they expect their suppliers to be equipped at least at the same level. They are totally wrong. Before, there were no mobile apps for the travel agents, they were still stuck to the old GDS terminal on a Windows computer.
The AHA moment
It was then that the big AHA moment occurred: what about a mobile app that would allow travel agents to access the GDS terminal right from their smartphones? When we started sharing our idea with others, we faced a lot of doubts and questions and 1000 reasons why it would not be doable, possible, secure, etc.
On the other side, when we asked the travel agents, we always got positive replies like… “That would be heaven on hearth” or … “Oh gee’, that would change my life for the best”, or one I personally like a lot: “My kids are going to love it. I’d be more available for them…”
Solve the Unsolved
This felt challenging and that’s what we do at TTS, solve the unsolved. So we put together a great team and started brainstorming. We kept going until we managed to solve all the challenges and get the long desired product.
With the full support of the Travelport team in Portugal, we decided to release it in three countries: Portugal, Spain and Brazil, as a kind of concept test. What happened afterwards was unbelievably amazing. The word got out and at TTS we started getting requests from all over the world.
This was the point when TTS and the Travelport Developer Network team started a series of meetings to build a process that would take this technology to a global level. It took TTS and Travelport some months to set up the environment, train the teams all over the world and finally roll out the product globally.
Now, two years past the initial release in October 2011, we could not be happier with the results.Travelport Mobile Agent has changed how thousands of Travel Agents around the world service their customers, but even more important, it has provided Travel Agents the choice of doing what they need to do, when they need to do, wherever they are.
It runs on Tablets but most importantly, it runs on Smartphones meaning that the Travel Agent can immediately react to calls with a simple push of a button, being connected to all Travelport GDSs: Galileo, Apollo and Worldspan.
We could not be happier with the results.”
As to have an idea of the great response we had from the users, please take a look at these survey results that evaluate how the customers feel about Travelport Mobile Agent. And click here to see the presentation video!
For the record: the team is now working on the next major version, Travelport Mobile Agent 3.0 to be released this June 2014, at the insightful Travelport APAC Event in Bali.
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What users say about Travelport Mobile Agent | Global Survey Results
Why You Should Use a Travel Agent
Travelport Mobile Agent 3.0 video