Long-established Queenstown tourism publisher Itag hails its free booking service launched today as a ground-breaker.
“Agents can now book accommodation, activities and tours immediately online,” Itag owner Jim Turner says.
Turner: “This saves hours normally spent calling operators and confirming availability and bookings.”
The cloud-based system – called I-Res – is the first free booking engine of its kind in New Zealand, Turner reckons.
It’s been 14 years in the making and has been trialled for two years, Turner says.
“We had the idea for real-time booking software back in 1999 but it’s only now that technology has caught up so we can move forward with the idea,” Turner says.
According to Itag, accommodation and activity operators can load inventory on to the system whenever they wish and at whatever prices they wish.
Itag regional sales boss Steve Hanrahan says: “If you had two spaces on your next boat trip leaving in 20 minutes and wanted to sell it at a last-minute distressed rate, you can easily update the pricing in I-Res.
“And using the real-time chat, you can tell frontline [booking] staff immediately this becomes available.”
However, the new system isn’t just for cut-price deals, Hanrahan stresses.
Any tourism business can list products free, with additional paid options for advanced services.
Turner believes I-Res will change the way small Queenstown tourism businesses operate.
“Smaller operators will be able to run their businesses from a smartphone,” he boldly predicts.
The new system was developed and tested with the help of I-Site Queenstown boss Matt Wong, who gives I-Res a big plug.
“Frontline staff have been asking for a system like this for a long time,” Wong says, “a place where all hotels, motels, lodges and activities are available in one place with real-time availability.”
Wong says I-Res makes booking accommodation and activities easier for agents.
Rather than spend time ringing around operators, he and his staff have more time to pass on local info to visitors, Wong says.
Itag – which stands for ‘Independent Traveller Activity Guide’ – began publishing in Queenstown 12 years ago.