Outtask Cliqbook Manages To Find Best Travel Rates

Enables Web-fare booking for corporate customers

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Outtask is leveraging its Cliqbook Solution for travel and expense management to gain market share and a competitive edge in the travel industry.

With the recent signing of Adelman Travel Group, Omega World Travel and VTS Travel, Outtask has attracted the business of about 20 percent of the top 30 travel agencies and about half of the top 10 travel agencies in the United States, said executives of the company.

Ross Atkinson, executive vice president of Outtask, based here, said Cliqbook relieves a pressure point in the travel industry regarding how suppliers are selling inventory.

"We've got a technology that has an immediate cost benefit, great demand in the field from large companies and a clear sales strategy with our channel," Atkinson said.

Outtask's Ross Atkinson: Cliqbook is a managed solution that simplifies the procurement and approval process for travel agents and corporate travelers.

The Cliqbook technology allows travel agencies and corporate travelers the same direct Web access from a single user account, with realtime reporting of all purchases. The solution also enforces travel and expense policies for both online and offline purchases.

For example, a $2,000 coast-to-coast fare for corporate travelers is usually found through online booking tools or direct contact with a travel agent. With the introduction of Web-only fares, however, there is usually a lower-price fare for the same flight, Atkinson said.

"Our tool, in addition to managing the entire procurement and approval process, goes out and looks and says, 'Oh, by the way, there's a fare out there for $450,' " he said. "The airline gets to fill that seat, the customer gets a cheaper fare, and three or four middlemen are eliminated from the process."

Bob Chaiken, chief operating officer of Adelman Travel, said that kind of fully managed solution is attractive to corporate travel clients looking to ensure they get the best deal. He said Cliqbook is the only solution he is aware of that's being offered as a managed service.

"Using Cliqbook, corporate customers can enable Web-fare booking while automating the handoff of that booking information to our reporting systems," Chaiken said.

Milwaukee-based Adelman Travel was founded in 1985 and has on-site locations across the country and reservation centers in Milwaukee, Boston and Santa Ana, Calif. Because Adelman signed on with Outtask in late July, it's still early to judge the system's success, but Chaiken said initial feedback is positive. Chaiken said Adelman required little technical support from Outtask, and customer implementation is proceeding well. He expects the new system to be fully functional by the end of August.

"The key really is the managed process, because a corporate traveler can decide one fare is not the lowest, but everything needs to be routed through a manager for approval," Chaiken said.

Atkinson said Outtask keeps the price structure simple for clients. There's a commitment by the travel agency, he said, and that commitment is rebated through transactions. Those transactions, in turn, are being charged to the travel agency's customers.

Outtask plans to keep outsourcing the solution and expects demand for Cliqbook to continue for the foreseeable future, Atkinson said. The additional edge for Outtask, he said, is the focus on a market where traditional IT doesn't have a stronghold.

"Applications such as expense management, travel management, etc., aren't mission-critical IT functions," Atkinson said. "But they are things that typically bring headaches, and this solution helps make those headaches go away."

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