Oracle Lends Business Muscle to E-Travel Services

FRAMINGHAM (08/17/2000) - Leveraging the technical muscle of corporate parent Oracle Corp., e-Travel Inc. recently released a slate of Web-enabled services that add travel management capabilities to purchasing, human resources and other back-office functions of Oracle applications.

Oracle bought e-Travel in March of last year.

This spring, the Waltham, Mass.-based business-to-business travel supplier started making direct network connections to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies and with corporate buyers.

Over the past few weeks, e-Travel has added travel management and business integration tools into its product set, borrowing heavily from Oracle's e-commerce and customer relationship management technologies.

While e-Travel doesn't have the market share of competitors such as Sabre Inc. or GetThere Inc., its latest services are taking business-to-business travel technology "to a new level," said Kate Rice, an analyst at Sherman, Conn.-based online travel research firm PhoCusWright Inc.

No Extra Software Required

For instance, she noted that unlike Sabre, whose services require corporate customers to install third-party software, e-Travel's latest features don't require any software other than a Web browser and Internet access, she said.

Henry Harteveldt, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., said the latest releases help put e-Travel "on a much more shoulder-to-shoulder level" with Sabre and GetThere, now that it has ticketing and workflow capabilities.

Emeryville, Calif.-based Extensity Inc. and IBM Corp. also provide technology to online travel planners to help corporate customers manage in-house business rules and trip approval.

E-Travel also used Oracle Workflow to build a corporate travel workflow system for e-Travel customers as well as Oracle's Discoverer ad hoc query and analysis tool to build a reporting system that allows travel managers to check supplier performance (such as an airline's on-time flight performance) and other travel activities, according to Rob Wald, e-Travel's director of product marketing.

E-Travel also announced the creation of an Internet ticketing and customer support network. Previously, e-Travel corporate clients either booked their travel through a supplier's direct links or built an itinerary, after which they needed to make reservations through a travel agency.

Ready-Made Itineraries

Wald said travel agencies have often been lukewarm to the idea of supporting customers who come to them with ready-made itineraries. "Those aren't high-margin customers for them," he said.

Customers can now book through e-Travel for $16.95 - far less than the standard $32 to $70 agency fee, Wald said. Like other online travel companies, the ticket fulfillment includes a package of paging, Web phone and e-mail support services.

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