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Corp. “I have two clients now going through the process, and I’ve had five or six who got approval this year, and 20 or 25 more who have looked into it. But you have to be careful, because you lose any overrides you are getting from your agency. Several companies have sat down and looked at the figures and seen they are not going to save any money.”In order to come out ahead, Conklin said, travel managers need to follow both the letter and the spirit of the law, soliciting and delivering a real customer base. And that’s just what Franklin Quest means to do by advertising its travel agency and meeting planning services in telephone books nationwide, by making the services accessible over the Franklin Quest Website, and by marketing them to the 5 million users of the Franklin Quest Day Planner. That product is sold and marketed through 90 retail outlets nationwide, and through company offices in London, Toronto and the Far East. Already, she has consolidated all CRS bookings with Worldspan, where previously the company used both Worldspan and Sabre, in return for a negotiated discount from Delta Airlines, a Worldspan owner. But the transition is not without costs, especially in the beginning. There were fees and time involved in setting up a formal corporate subsidiary including the naming of officers and the posting of bonds and for a consultant to guide the company through the ARC accreditation process. The staffing will include DeBry, who will now manage the agency as well as the travel program; three full time transient travel counselors and one part timer,
one full time meeting planner and one administrative person to focus on reports and quality control. But Franklin Quest’s on site was always staffed by its own employees; only the administrative position is new. There also was a time commitment involved. The committee that proposed the plan to senior management originally was formed to evaluate travel agency bids, but “since we were already doing our own vendor negotiations and providing our own staff, it became obvious as we drilled down into the financials that there were not a lot of value added services an agency could provide,” DeBry said. “So we did some spreadsheets, and every time we ran the numbers we said, ‘oh, this makes sense.’ “Then came the ARC process. “This is a new thing for ARC, and they are being very careful,” DeBry said. “It usually takes 90 days for an agency to get approval, but it took us about four months. But despite the fact that there is no mandated mix of internal versus public business booked by an ARC accredited agency, the company still must convince the agency of its intent to be “open to the public.” “Our mission is to accredit sellers of travel on behalf of the airlines,” Collins said. “If the ABC Corp. “I know I’m being watched on a lot of levels certainly by my own company, since I’ve spun off a division, but also by other corporations and agencies in the city and in the state, and now by the press,” she said. “It’s a big commitment, and you need 100 percent support clear to the top of your organization. But it’s also a great opportunity. This wouldn’t work for every company,
and many won’t even want to try it. But it’s another option for travel managers to consider and we think it will work for us.