15% adoption rate by members in first week before formal announcement; takes collaboration to the next level
SOUTHLAKE, Texas – March 6, 2008 – Nexion, the industry’s leading full-service host agency, today announces the launch of Nexion Town, an online social networking community program connecting its travel agent members and staff. Nexion saw over 15 percent of its members complete profiles the first week of the launch last week of the pilot program.
Nexion Town is a pilot program using the same platform that powers cubeless™, Sabre’s recently announced enterprise platform. While cubeless is initially focusing on the corporate segment, Nexion Town is being developed for the leisure travel segment and is specifically designed to operate within an agency’s business environment. Nexion members and staff are the first to leverage the new leisure application giving them the opportunity to connect with each other in a dynamic fashion and influence further developments and enhancements.
Taking networking between Nexion members to the next level, Nexion Town increases collaboration among agents by helping them increase their knowledge base through sharing expertise with others in the community. This saves agents time and money typically spent performing research that directly influences an agent’s business value and insight into growing their own agencies. The program is included in Nexion’s membership offering and is a key component of the host agency’s commitment to helping agents improve operations related to the people most important to their business – one of Nexion’s four core values.
“Most Nexion agents are home-based, independent travel professionals who rely on other members the way an agent in a brick-and-mortar agency may rely on the agent at the next desk,” said Jackie Friedman, CTC, CTIE, Nexion general manager. “Nexion Town makes it easy for them to tap into the expertise of other agents and the Nexion staff so that they can effectively sell the right product to their customers.”
Through Nexion Town, agents have the capability to create a profile that captures their unique travel experiences, job skills, destination expertise, areas of specialization, industry certifications and personal information, and upload photos. They can then perform searches for other agents and network with them to share marketing, sales and travel knowledge. Agents can even take the networks they have built online to their local community and form local networking chapters. Other key features include:
- Ask and Answer Questions — Users can submit questions that are routed to people best able to answer them based on past answers or knowledge base – their “knowledge cloud.” For example, when an agent asks about recommended restaurants in Key West, a query will be sent to agents with Key West listed in their profile or who have answered a Key West question in the past.
- Form Groups – Agents can form and join groups on subjects such as geography or expertise such as Italy or Disney to reach agents with similar interests and skill sets. Plans are also in the works to involve cruise and tour suppliers to host their own groups providing a unique opportunity for interaction between suppliers and agents.
- Posting Messages – Agents and Nexion staff can post messages to other agents to foster collaboration, communication and connection.
- Featured Events – Nexion management can use the Marketing Tile on the Hub page to recognize an event, group or agent as “featured.”
“After 19 years in this business, there is always something new to learn, and I am now able to share my expertise with others along with them sharing their expertise with me,” said Nexion agent and Nexion Advisory Board member Tim Richmond. “By sharing this knowledge I can better service my clients and find marketing ideas that have worked without having to go through trial and error, thus increasing my client base and making better sales opportunities.”
Nexion member Lisa Baserga agrees, adding that establishing and maintaining these quality relationships allows her to focus on her ultimate goal of servicing her customers. “This is yet one more tool that Nexion provides that enables me to be a strong, independent home-based agent who is never alone and always connected with ease at many levels.”
Baserga is also enthusiastic about the opportunity to connect with not only agents but Nexion staff and suppliers in a more visible and timely way. “Connections don’t just stop with other agents, which is the cherry-on-the-top in my opinion,” she said.
Nexion, a Sabre brand, involved 20 of its agent advisory board members and top member participants of the Nexion CoNexion message board in early discussions with Sabre Travel Studios, the company’s “incubator for positive change” and creator of cubeless. Through these discussions Nexion learned that many of its members critically needed a communications platform that would let them interact and tap into the expertise of other agents to be able to do their jobs effectively.
Sabre Travel Studios looks at travel outside the box and “the art of the possible.” The team identifies, tests, and launches new travel concepts that show benefit for the marketplace – bringing innovative approaches to business challenges.
To foster participation in Nexion Town, Nexion provides users with credit or “karma points” for their posts, offering them added capabilities such as uploading up to four additional photos and joining up to 20 additional groups. Initially, agents will have one default profile photo and five groups to join..
The first “lab” for the new community platform was actually Sabre’s own employee base. Employees have used the power of the connected community to build their knowledge, find a certain skill set for a work team, and check out travel information such as the best mode of airport transport to the local office or just simply which hotel has the best location or service for an upcoming trip.
“Leveraging our employee base has been excellent way to develop the capabilities of the community platform,” said John Samuel, head of Sabre Travel Studios at Sabre Holdings. “Our folks are passionate about travel, so who better to help us drive all the ways we can use this collaborative tool to help our agency customers.”
Through its development, Sabre has found that the best way to ensure participation in the community platform is to have minimal rules and guidelines, but let it grow “virally.”
While there are similarities between Nexion Town and social networking sites – the key difference is that the underlying cubeless community platform has been specifically developed for business environments – focusing on collaboration rather than socialization. And Nexion Town is being developed specifically to provide the travel agency the next level of collaboration.
“Our combined membership is an incredible knowledge base,” said Friedman. “I think that is the most exciting thing about the launch of Nexion Town – to see this knowledge base just grow exponentially as this knowledge gets shared.”
About Sabre Travel Network
Sabre Travel Network, a Sabre Holdings company, provides the most comprehensive end-to-end solutions for corporate and leisure travel. The Sabre GDS is the foundation for these solutions, providing a ready-built efficient marketplace that connects travel suppliers, including hundreds of airlines and thousands of hotels, with more than 50,000 travel agency locations. Currently, Sabre collectively handles over 70 percent of the BTN 100 bookings.
Key brands of Sabre Travel Network include GetThere, for corporate travel reservation technology; Nexion, a host agency; SynXis, for hotel reservation management, distribution and technology services; TRAMS, mid- and back-office solutions and marketing services for travel agencies; and TRAMS Marketing Alliance (TMA), a marketing promotions services for leisure travel agencies. Sabre Travel Network also markets TripTailor Vacations, a travel wholesaler providing dynamic packaging for the travel agency marketplace.
Sabre Holdings connects people with the world’s greatest travel possibilities by retailing travel products and providing distribution and technology solutions for the travel industry. More information about Sabre Holdings is available at http://www.sabre-holdings.com.