Longtime corporate travel sales exec Mary Ellen George joined Sydney-based travel agency automation firm Tramada Systems to lead its expansion in North America.
Sixteen-year-old Tramada offers agencies a cloud-based, GDS- and online booking tool-agnostic alternative to back-office systems like Trams or Travcom. This includes business intelligence, though Tramada is happy to export data to its clients’ preferred data visualization and reporting tools.
Begun last September, the U.S. expansion required the company to add integration with Travelport’s Apollo (it already supported Amadeus and Sabre). It also had to adjust for date formats, tax info and terminology. Tramada delivered version one of its U.S. product to clients in April. “What we have found is that 95 percent is universal, and 5 percent requires localization,” said Tramada CEO Jo O’Brien.
Tramada is out to help TMCs reduce costs. Its partnership with Onyx CenterSource, for example, streamlines the commission recovery process. “Tramada is like the keeper of the truth,” said O’Brien. “The feed we send to them is accurate and rich, and then reconciliation is automated. We can attribute commissions to each hotel segment. You know who is paying, or not, and you can manage your relationships. Many midsize or smaller TMCs don’t bother because it’s too hard. Often the commissions are small, and they come in bit by bit. One of our clients had a team of five people on this, but in integrating Tramada with Onyx that got them down to one full-time equivalent.”
Tramada integrates with Sabre profiles. It offers a Sabre Red app for travel agents to view customer data and travel histories. The app also applies quality control to bookings. Alternatively, agents toggle between the GDS and the Tramada software.
Tramada connects with mid-office tools from the likes of Concur and Cornerstone, and offers itinerary delivery and other associated services. It partners with Canada-based software provider Magnatech Travel Management Solutions for unused ticket management.
Excluding the “mega” TMCs, Tramada claims 80 percent share of the corporate travel market in Australia. That includes marquee early client Corporate Travel Management, which has a couple dozen U.S. offices following the acquisitions of Montrose Travel, Travizon, USTravel and others.
“With some of the older systems, travel agencies are hanging on as long as they can,” said George. “A lot of the big guys have gone to the cloud but regional and super-regional agencies still are operating on legacy financial systems. This is an opportunity to enable that mid- to large-market travel agency to modernize and up their game.”
George is a veteran of large travel management companies, having served in leadership roles at American Express Global Business Travel and BCD Travel. Most recently she was senior vice president of sales at HRG North America. During her 16 years with the companies that became BCD Travel, George helped create the model for travel agency support of online bookings.