RealTime IT News

Singapore's Travel Trade Priming Up for E-Commerce

The travel trade in Singapore will get a shot in the arm when its industry association implements a virtual mall in the next quarter.

The National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (Natas) will implement Singapore's first online, real-time e-commerce service in October. The service will be available on both the Internet and SingaporeONE, the country's emerging multimedia broadband network.

To be called the Natas Virtual Travel Mall, the e-commerce service will not only attempt to increase the sales of travel agents in the extremely competitive domestic marketplace but also help them lower operating costs, the association said.

The first phase will enable Internet users to search for vacations according to their budgets, travel times, destinations and type of packages. To enable this phase to be successful, Natas plans to get as many agents as possible to promote their travel packages on the Internet.

The hits on the various packages will be linked to the respective Web sites of travel agents, Natas said.

The second phase will enable users to make online bookings as the system network will be linked to Abacus Computerized Reservation System.

Users will also be able to pay for their travel plans via the Internet, which will be the highlight of the virtual mall as many similar sites lack the latter capability.

In implementing the deal, Natas said it has signed up with Microsoft Singapore to develop the software aspects of the mall together with developer Aretae Interactive.

Natas is also working statutory agencies like the National Computer Board (NCB) to implement a cost-effective project for travel agents.

Now, Natas is funding the project internally and is studying the possibility of getting help from NCB, which is responsible for the computerization of the public service.

Natas represents about 360 members here and these include travel agents, hotels and airlines.