Since last year, a process has been underway to merge Gulliver Travel Associates, Tourico, and Hotelbeds Group with TravelBound. The merger is bringing big changes to Travel Bound including a new website, booking platform, and more.
“Taking the best of all divisions is really what we’ve been doing since January,” says Tommy Ryder, head of sales for TravelBound, of the companies coming together.
More specifically, travel advisors can expect to see TravelBound move over to the Bedsonline platform—formerly under the Hotelbeds Group—with the creation of a new website set to launch in the fourth quarter of this year.
“The TravelBound system has always been very strong and loved by the travel agents, but it’s a dated system,” says Ryder. “Now with the Bedsonline system, it’s a very dynamic and agile system and we can really power in a lot of new tools for the travel agents that will make it easier for them to do bookings.”
With the new website will come a new voucher system, more filtering tools, and more detailed information that provides advisors not only with the names of room types available, but also descriptions of these room types. The platform will also include a new system that advisors can offer to their clients which will help them track their airport transfers and contact the driver if needed.
In addition to new and upgraded tools, advisors will also see a significant increase in offerings for hotels, activities, car rentals and more. The merging of these brands has increased hotel inventory from 55,000 to 170,000 with a 30 percent increase in the number of four- and five-star hotels. The number of vacation rentals has also increased, while the number of tours and activities has doubled from 8,000 to 16,000. TravelBound has also taken into account feedback from travel advisors to address some of the challenges they reported in the past by upgrading technology in the new system. Ryder describes the new system as user-friendly and intuitive. TravelBound will host a series of road shows to educate agents once the new branding and website is launched.
“The travel agent community will be very excited to see the things they’ve been asking us for over the years,” Ryder says.
TravelBound’s Commitment to Advisors
When asked about the future of TravelBound working with travel agents, Ryder reassures the travel agent community that TravelBound will remain as an agent-facing platform.
“Travel agents are competing with the online world, and we’re there to support them with that,” he says. “I think we can add more value by staying with that.”
In an effort to maintain and grow that support for travel advisors, TravelBound expanded its sales team by keeping all members of the sales teams from TravelBound and Bedsonline during the merger. The combined forces sales team has completed training on the new platform and is ready to assist travel advisors when it officially launches. And, the sales team, or Sales Executives, has also been created specifically and exclusively for the purpose of supporting home-based advisors.
“It’s not about saying, ‘here’s a brochure, now go sell.’ It’s more about engaging with agents so that [the sales team] can talk to them about a destination and help them grow their business. That’s what our sales team is all about,” Ryder says.
Ryder also notes that it’s up to travel advisors to support the companies that resist the temptation of straying from the B2B model of exclusively working with agents. “It’s a two-way street,” he adds.