By David Sims
David at firstcoffee d*t biz
The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Charlie Rich's sublime masterpiece, Pictures and Paintings:
Global travel technology vendor Worldspan has introduced a suite of office products for German travel agencies seeking integration of mid-office functions -- specifically combined billing administration and customer relationship management (CRM) systems.
Two new products, Worldspan OfficeSelect and Worldspan DataSource, both built by Bosys, offer capabilities and functionality designed to "reduce administration costs, expand agency services and increase sales," according to company officials.
Product capabilities include electronic import and processing of vital booking data.
Bosys Software GmbH is a software company specializing in the travel industry, which creates software for use by its own customers and on behalf of third parties.
Through these products, Worldspan is trying to sell agencies tools to simplify and streamline the flow of business, "from their front line agents, all the way to their back-office accounting systems," according to Hans-Gunter Korts, Worldspan regional manager for Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Worldspan OfficeSelect is a standalone product offering advanced mid- office functionality and benefits that support agency billing, customer data management and agency marketing. Comprehensive traveler and booking data, including all pertinent details in transaction and payment records, is captured to support multiple processes.
Billing and cash flow capabilities allow agencies to print invoices and itinerary receipts, generate reports, and export billing data to a selected back-office system. OfficeSelect also supports agency marketing, and customer service and retention initiatives. Its built-in, traveler-centric CRM capabilities enable agencies to "target highly relevant advertising and promotional campaigns to travelers," company officials say.
Worldspan DataSource is a product pitched at travel agencies wanting to automate the transfer of booking and billing administration data to their local mid-/back-office systems, as it facilitates real-time, electronic transfer of data on all bookings generated through Worldspan's applications.
Travel agency interface records from the Worldspan host are translated into a standard format accepted by other local mid-/back-office systems.
Astea International Inc., a vendor of service lifecycle management software, has announced that they have embedded their FieldCentrix service management product, both on-demand and on-premise, into Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
The move is aimed at "supporting business processes and sharing information from lead generation and quotation to service delivery and support through to expense capture and billing," according to Astea officials.
Already a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, as well as a Microsoft Dynamics partner for Microsoft Dynamics GP and Microsoft Dynamics AX, Astea has expanded this partnership to now include Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
FieldCentrix has been embedded within Microsoft Dynamics CRM, so it has the familiar Outlook user interface customers.
As a result of the deal, Microsoft Dynamics CRM partners can "offer a level of field service functionality that Microsoft Dynamics CRM Service Management alone can't offer," such as contract management service histories, graphical scheduling and dispatch and parts and expense tracking," said John Tobin, President, Astea International.
Hot Banana Software, Inc., a vendor of Web content management for marketing, has announced the launch of Version 5.5, which improves its Web CMS offerings by integrating Web site optimization and marketing automation features.
The company also made significant changes to its SaaS and licensed pricing, focusing on small-to-midsized marketers. As part of its re-positioning strategy, Hot Banana has re-launched its own corporate Web site using Version 5.5.
Nice concept, that, somebody living by the standards they want others to use. Al Gore could start doing that and maybe First Coffee would take him seriously. Why listen to somebody preaching that human energy consumption is destroying the planet, when his own personal energy consumption puts him in the top tenth of the top one percent of energy consumers in the world? Yeah, he really believes what he's saying. Two-bit snake oil hustler, I'd sooner listen to Hillary Clinton talk about the importance of honesty, or Bill Clinton expounding on the joys of marital fidelity.
Hot Banana Version 5.5 is "first to focus on three areas," company officials say: Web content management, Web site optimization and marketing automation tools for capturing Web site visitors, turning them into qualified leads and transferring the leads to CRM systems.
The Web CMS integrates best-of-breed, third-party Web analytics, e-mail marketing and CRM offerings. It consolidates the capabilities from Hot Banana's formerly optional Active Marketing Suite into one core product.
The company has also made its pricing structure more affordable, creating a three-tier model based on usage: one to five users, six to 25 users and unlimited users. Hot Banana SaaS, the company's hosted offering, starts at only $329 per month, while Hot Banana Licensed Software starts at $4,999.
The most expensive package is a licensed-software offering that handles an unlimited number of users and URLs for only $27,999.
Version 5.5 builds Web site optimization tools and marketing automation processes directly into the core product. This approach is designed to let marketers increase inbound Web site traffic, launch e-mail campaigns, use landing pages with A/B testing and Web forms, and transfer leads to CRM systems like salesforce.com.
Features include an industry-first "Analytics Center" that integrates several Web analytics tools, including ClickTracks, Google Analytics, IndexTools and WebTrends. Hot Banana automatically adds the proper tags to each Web page, based on the user's preferred analytics vendor. Users can add additional Web analytics vendors.
There's also e-mail marketing capabilities that transfer Web form data to the e-mail marketing provider of choice, so this data can be used in the next campaign. Best-practice design templates are included, so users can create e-mails, landing pages and corporate sites, all with the same consistent look and feel.
For example, e-mail HTML pages can be created in Hot Banana and exported to any email-marketing software for delivery.
It also has the ability to transfer Web form data to CRM systems, such as salesforce.com. Hot Banana's landing pages lets users build Web forms that track lead sources and conversions. All the data captured in the Web form can be transferred to CRM, database or email-marketing software of choice.
A new SEO Center consolidates Hot Banana's numerous built-in SEO tools and controls. Enhancements include 301 redirect and automated title attributes in hyperlinks. Users can also automatically create XML standards-compliant sitemaps, such as Google Site Maps, and register them with Google, Yahoo! and MSN.
Plus there's a "Dynamic Content Engine" that borrows tagging tricks from social networking sites, so content authors can categorize and tag their own content. This feature is for managing large volumes of content for online publications and publishers. Web site visitors can search content by tag, categories, title, author and abstract.
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