Travelocity, Galileo Bid for Business Travel

Two travel services Web sites are taking steps to get business customers to make their travel plans online.

Travelocity.com Inc. last week opened a business travel section on its market-leading leisure travel Web site. The move came the day after Rosemont, Ill.-based computer reservations firm Galileo International Inc. debuted TravelGalileo.com, which will put brick-and-mortar travel agencies online to service business and leisure customers.

Both moves help to fill what has been perceived in the travel industry as a gap in online business-travel services. At the recent eTravelWorld Conference in Orlando, analysts said few companies use online booking tools, so the market for such services remains wide open.

Fort Worth, Texas-based Travelocity.com, the biggest player in that space, is the merged offering of Sabre Inc., also in Fort Worth, and Menlo Park, Calif.-based GetThere Inc. Its booking tools will allow smaller businesses to access preferred airline and group booking tools available to the larger customers of Sabre/GetThere.

Krista Pappas, director of travel analysis at Gomez Advisors Inc. in Lincoln, Mass., said the Travelocity.com initiative makes sense in that more-structured systems will have difficulty reaching travelers in smaller corporations.

Galileo's move takes advantage of its historical ties to brick-and-mortar travel agencies. The agencies will now be able to provide their traditional, over-the-counter service over Galileo's fiber-optic lines.

Pappas said one of the chief difficulties in providing business travel is the increased demand for customer service and the maintenance of long-term relationships - two areas in which brick-and-mortar agencies typically excel.

Framingham, Mass.-based International Data Corp. senior analyst Joshua Friedman released a report last month predicting that brick-and-mortar agencies will collectively dominate the market when they gain a greater amount of Internet savvy to mix with their travel expertise.

Copyright © 2000 IDG Communications, Inc.

  
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