Knowing Right From Wrong

Article Published in Travel Weekly Focus, April 2001



Understanding what sort of agency you have, or want it to be, is increasingly critical in evaluating CRS choices as contract renewal time matures.  With a little planning, agencies can better assess the relevance of CRS offerings. There are many subtle differences among them.


Although virtually all of the CRSs offer the traditional terminal-emulation platform that most agents trained on, the support of these traditional tools varies.  For example, if an agency generates large profits selling packaged tours, and it has a staff skilled in CRS command language, the agency may find Galileo's LeisureShopper solution a faster (i.e., potentially more profitable) booking solution than SabreTours.  This is because LeisureShopper can accept command-language entries, while SabreTours mandates that its users fill in multiple screen presentations before accepting a booking.


Conversely, if the agency staff is Internet-literate and adept with a mouse, or prefers expanded tour-offering options, then Amadeus offers a solid alternative in an integrated service with various vendors. Likewise, the Viator gateways through Worldspan or Sabre may better serve revenue potential.  An obvious additional consideration is whether a preferred tour provider is available in the selected CRS.

Sabre's Virtually There is a great travel agent support tool, allowing participating agents' customers access to itineraries and other timely travel-related information via the Internet.  Customers can self-serve 24/7, which concurrently reduces agent support time.  But, if the agency's self-assessment identified personal service as an opportunity for value-added customer contact, then encouraging customers seek a Virtually There solution might have marginal value. 

Worldspan is the leader in providing third-party Internet booking sites with CRS connectivity to airlines for agencies doing their own front end.


Galileo's Quantitude network seems to be emulation the CRS-type legacy system connect points with travel vendors more readily than the other CRSs.


Amadeus seems to have jumped into the lead with WAP ( wireless application protocol ) solutions for cell phones and personal digital assistants.

Sabre provides more do-it-yourself tools than any of the other CRSs. But in each case, all others are in hot pursuit.  Sabre also offers the greatest range of agency tools and has broader penetration into all other aspects of the travel distribution channel. That includes both traditional structures and new, network solutions.  Sabre also tends to be the most expensive for agencies and vendors alike. And despite assurances otherwise, Sabre seems to build in the need for additional Sabre tools within its core products -- in contrast to the evolving e-commerce trend of common-use tools.

Worldspan has focused for more than five years on building tools that serve automated agencies offering Internet and other Web-based booking portals.  This Internet expertise serves agents in its Worldspan Go! platform and the corporate booking solution, Trip Manager.  Worldspan also has an extensive suite of connectivity solutions.


Amadeus, rather than build a single set of tools to serve agencies worldwide, has approached each distribution market differently -- adapting tools to fit culture and user expectations.  The Amadeus host is the best in offering melded-hosting of tour products. Less active in supporting Internet booking solutions, Amadeus tools tend to offer knowledge solutions to agents in the belief that the travel expert remains essential to most travel sales.


Galileo has been slow in its transition to serving the new distribution environment. But, having waited and watched, Galileo's new Viewpoint booking tool was the first CRS desktop solution to attempt integrated CRS and Internet functionality. Sabre's new eVoya Desktop offers a similar solution.  And Galileo's recently released XML Select may have jumped in front of Sabre's XML Tool Kit.

There is no right CRS. But there can be a wrong CRS.

Different CRS tools serve different niches of the industry better than others.  Therefore, it becomes critically important for an agency to analyze its core business -- and to use that assessment to find the right CRS with the appropriate tools to ensure an agency's future.