Updated: Jan 29, 2019
It is almost a miracle of technology that our customers can call Travel with a Cause and within minutes learn of all suitable flights or cruises or tours or other travel opportunities, like volunteer vacations or special events, with best prices, terms like weight restrictions, add-ons like free stop overs and exciting accommodation options. How is this possible and what is the amazing technology that makes it happen?
If you are like many travellers today, who are skilled enough with the internet and have some experience, you probably go to an airline’s web site, or an aggregator like Expedia and book directly. Even with your skill and experience, and the usefulness of the meta-search systems you log into, it still takes ages, and you never know if you have seen all possibilities, or have the best price, and then have to worry about the risk of making an online payment.
This is particularly so when you read of these public sites being fined by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for conflicts of interest, or going out of business leaving travellers stranded with no support, or simply being fraudulent and scamming credit card details. The ACCC has recently cracked down on some organisations actually suggesting best deals when it was really to their own preferred customers and not necessarily the best deal at all. You would never have known.
When you book through your travel agency, none of this is left to chance. Travel with a Cause uses the most sophisticated technology applications, unavailable to the public, partly because it is expensive and partly because it requires considerable training, to make these instant over the phone reservations and bookings happen for you magically.
International travel is one of the world’s most complex industries. Just think about it. Firstly it involves conducting business across international borders. Every country has its own rules, regulations, special cultures, expectations, systems, visas, treaties with other countries, and often with no compromise. It is daunting just to contemplate. The famous picture at top shows all the flights in the air at one time.
Then there are the challenges of language and currency. Professional and technical definitions, nuances, idiosyncrasies in all communications, currency exchange rates, banking systems, payment methods, refunds if they become due, tips and fees, and fines and avoid bribes.
The average person could no sooner safely and error-free arrange a complex multi country holiday for their family than fly to the moon, (which may soon actually become a real holiday destination, or at least a trip to space).
There are at least three independent and essential technology systems behind making this all available to your travel agent and therefore to you.
Firstly there are Global Distribution Systems (GDS). These are networking technology applications Travel with a Cause accesses to find the best match between everything that is available and your request. No just the best price, which is one of the most common requests, but the best departure times, shortest layovers at airport transfers, best connecting cities for safety or side trips, airlines of choice, luggage weight restrictions and so on. One of my personal peeves is when I can carry say 30kgs on one airline just to find that on the next leg the limit is 23kgs and suddenly I am over weight and having to pay exorbitant additional fees. It is interesting how many of the GDSs have the names of famous historical figures renowned for their innovation like Galileo, Amadeus, or “cutting edge” words like Sabre. While Travel with a Cause is online with our GDS, if things change, like a flight booking out or a price alteration, it happens in front of our eyes and we have instantaneous information to give our customers. How often have you gone through the whole search process yourself only to find that at the last minute the flight details are different from what you were led to believe?
Then there is the travel enterprise software that allows all those complex commercial transactions to happen once the right bookings have been found. This is the sophisticated connection between your payment and the organisations involved in your travel, the cruise lines, airlines, tour operators, insurance companies, banks, government departments, and so on. Once again, work that could easily take a day to do manually, is done almost instantaneously, so that once you confirm your reservation, you can make payment and rest assured that you will be on that flight or ship or whatever. Nothing worse than turning up at a hotel or airport counter to find there is no record of you.
Many international travel agents use consolidating payment and booking systems like BPS, which is the Billing and Settling System used by subscribers to the International Air Transport Association, IATA. These systems take care of all the international currency exchange dramas, and at the same time ensure safety with your credit cards and personal details.
At Travel with a Cause, we also use the latest and most practical accounting packages to allow us to interact with these other systems, your credit card agent and our bank, so that we can operate as an efficient, inexpensive, risk free and flexible service provider. That is why we can give you faster, better and more experienced service at prices you cannot match when you try yourself.