Air Transport World

CRS vendors target travel agents with new business automation systems. (computer reservations systems)

CRS vendors traget travel agents with new business automation systems The degree to which the airlines of the world have come to depend upon computers is amply evidenced by the accompanying tables, which detail the extent of automation at some 80 large and small carriers who replied to a periodic Air Transport World survey.

Even the most intractable of the holdouts against computerized reservations, Southwest Airlines, has finally, in the words of VP-Information Systems Jim Brunjes, "been dragged into the future." By early next year, having admitted "there are a lot of things we want to do that we can't" with the limited NCR system it now uses, Southwest expects to be up and running with a new computer reservations system "with all the latest capabilities," including machine-readable automated ticket/boarding passes (ATBs).

The major CRS vendors in the U.S., meanwhile, seem to have declared 1986 "the year of the travel agent." The big five--American, United, TWA, Eastern and Delta--all recently have announced new systems that they say will help agencies operate more productively and efficiently, sell more tickets, and eliminate some of the masses of paper that surround the process of placing a passenger aboard an airplane.

Although each carrier proclaims its system to be the first and the best, all offer the same three major capabilities: 1) they integrate the agency's front-office reservations and ticketing functions with its back-office accounting and management reporting operations; 2) they enable the agency to create a computer link between itself and its major corporate clients through which the corporation can do its own travel booking while the agency merely does the ticketing; 3) they allow agencies to install satellite ticket printers in the offices of corporate clients. They also are, to a large degree, designed for personal computers.

The newly announced offerings of the biggest vendor, American, are largely enhancements of the integrated agency system it has been selling for the past five years. Its new Commercial Sabre is the PC-based agency-client link. Sabre-CEO ties into Data General's Comprehensive Electronic Office automation system. Another enhancement checks to make sure that bookings for corporate clients conform to the travel policies of the corporation. American also is offering enhanced terminals, improvements in the interface between front and back office, programming that allows agencies to combine ticket and boarding pass on a single piece of paper, and other improvements. …

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