New Website System Increases Tour Operators' Marketing Reach

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Tour operators have traditionally had a difficult time on the Internet. It's hard to build a strong marketing campaign on narrow niche tour products. When the customer does come, he fights with an e-commerce system which ignores the nuances of travel sales. Web-Op has developed a comprehensive solution. The new Explore World Tours booking and tour management system not only provides an easy booking process for customers, it has the ability to give tour operators a broader reach. The trick is to centralize and syndicate the data.

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If you can offer them 200 tours, they won't click away to see if there's something better elsewhere.

Web-Op has recently released their new web-based tour retail and management system. Most travel sales websites are self-contained--the products are only available on a single site. The Explore system allows tour operators to place their tours into a pooled database.

"For customers, more inventory is a huge selling point.", according to Web-Op staff. "If you can offer them 200 tours, they won't click away to see if there's something better elsewhere."

Production use has demonstrated the value of a combined catalog. The Hawaii Tours online tour catalog ( ) and Explore Arizona tour website design ( ) are both based on the Explore system. Each offers over a hundred different tours. In spite of being operated by dozens of firms, every tour is booked with a simple, consistent booking process, which eases the customer into making extra purchases.

In addition, the Explore database can support a network of websites. A Hawaii adventure tour, for example, may appear on a general Hawaii site, and an adventure tours site, without any seperate arrangements. It's extra exposure, possibly in new markets, without any extra setup effort for the tour operator.

Although the system provides extra exposure for inventory, tour operators retain complete control over sales. Fine-grained white-list and black-list tools prevent competitors from selling products, and abusive sellers can be blocked. Commissions for cooperative agreements can be registered and stored automatically. A complete accounting dump makes end-of-month finances easy.

The Explore system also centralizes checkout, allowing even the smallest tour operators to enjoy the benefits of secure online sales, coupon codes, and detailed accounting logs. Firms can opt to manage pickup lists for bus tours right from the reservation system, avoiding transcription errors and missing bookings.

In addition, the Explore system encourages self-service. Customers can print their own vouchers, and sell-outs are handled automatically. Email notifications keep the customer informed and reassured. Tour operators should enjoy a significant savings in fixing broken reservations and calling to explain details to customers.

The Explore system makes it possible to rapidly roll out new sites for the sales network. These sites are built around a broadly-compatible XML-based API. This back-end allows Explore client sites to scale from simple forms selling fixed products, to complete, search-ready retail experiences with interactive calendars, add-on product offerings, and dozens of market-specific pages. Tour operators can also adjust existing sites to interface with the Explore API, for bookings and live data.

About Web-Op
Web-Op, based in Mesa, Arizona, is a privately held firm which represents years of experience in travel website development. In addition to the Explore system, Web-Op manages several "aggregation" sites for selling tours in regional markets.

David Bailey, CEO


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