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IARE's annual meeting draws call center managers

Travel Distribution Report May 8, 1997

Delegates to the 1997 conference of the International Association of Reservation Executives (IARE) focused their attention on three areas:  recruitment and retention; keeping current with technological change, and developing management teams.

The meeting, held April 27-30 in Miami, drew about 135 attendees, primarily managers of travel and hospitality call centers.

The workshop-intensive program, which featured nationally recognized specialists in the conference's themes, were supplemented by roundtable meetings segmented by call center size.  No distinction was made as to travel segment represented, which included airlines, auto rental, hotel and cruise companies.  The group originally was composed solely of hoteliers.

Seasoned IARE attendees, as well as first-timers, commented on the commonality of operational problems experienced, as well as the value of learning approaches successfully applied outside their own industry segment.

Elliott Winit, senior director of reservation operations for Red Lion Hotels, was reelected president of IARE for 1997, as were the other officers:Tina Peyton (InnLink) as vice president, Cindi Cunningham (Anasazi Travel Resources) as secretary, and Robb Anderson (HFS, Inc.) as treasurer.  IARE announced that its 1998 conference will take place in Salt Lake City, April 26-29.

A total of twenty-four vendors participated in the IARE Showcase.  Products catching the attention of conference delegates included ACD manufacturer Aspect Technologies' Agility Interactive Web.  This optional addition to the Aspect CallCenter ACD automatically creates customized, dynamic web pages.  Thereafter it allows an Internet user, through use of a second telephone line, to talk with a customer service agent at a call center, who is able to view the caller's display.  Aspect representatives suggest potential applications in order processing (including reservations), information interpretation and problem resolution.

Another was Sabre Decision Technologies' Reward, the PC-based version of Reward Gold (the mainframe version of which supports the American Airlines AAdvantage program).  Completed over a year ago, and already in use by B&B representative InnPoints as well as several airlines including Alaska and MEA, Reward is being freshly targeted (and priced) to appeal to small-to-midsize organizations, including smaller hotel companies.