Radius Claims Tripling Of Centrally Sourced Business Since 2010

Radius' transaction volume from centrally sourced contracts has tripled since 2010, the travel agency organization reported this week. The increase up until last year had been most apparent through client wins in the United States and throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In the latter part of last year and into 2013, Radius has seen growth coming out of Latin America and Asia/Pacific.

Also growing is the agency network's name, as Radius this week rebranded to Radius Travel. "The change isn't huge, that's for sure," president and CEO Shannon Hyland acknowledged to The Beat. "But it gives us an opportunity to spend less time talking about ourselves; the name makes it more self-evident."

To help maintain momentum, Radius is poised to introduce a new data management and reporting tool. It has been in the works for a while and after some beta testing is due out by year-end. "A few years ago when member agencies stepped forward with a larger investment, the objective of that investment simply was to develop more technology around data aggregation, reporting and analytics, as well as to increase multinational transactions throughout the network," Hyland explained. "When we roll out the reporting tool, called Radius IQ, later this year, it will help the momentum of business growing even faster. We are starting to use it as part of presentations, and it is being very well received."

The tool will include a dashboard and provide various metrics deemed essential for effective travel program management.

Apart from data management and analytical tools, Radius generally relies on third parties to develop technology. A traveler profile system developed by Amadeus and used by Sony Europe is one that has "piqued the interest of other customers," Hyland said.

Meanwhile, Radius recently announced that on Oct. 1 it will provide travel agency members access to "off-GDS" hotel, airline and rental car inventory through Tourico Holidays, which uses "a high-volume, wholesale model."

Member agencies, according to Radius senior vice president of marketing and partnerships Chris McAndrews, will either take in a feed to integrate that inventory or separately access a white-labeled website. The Tourico site, he claimed, is "blindingly fast in terms of the return of results, and we understand that every second counts in terms of serving the customer and the efficiency of the agent."

Primarily for hotel content in Latin America and Asia/Pacific__and any other area where global distribution systems don't offer the full range of hotel options__RadiusGo augments the Radius Global Hotel Program, which according to Hyland accounted last year for "more than 12 million hotel room nights."

Inside And Outside The Network

Despite losing Travelocity Business as a partner, the Radius network "is in great shape, with very little turnover elsewhere," said senior vice president of global sales and servicesKieran Hartwell. He cited the additions of Ultramar (by way of its acquisition by Travel and Transport) and Peak Travel in the United States, and Travellink in the Nordics. "So agencies moving in and out of the network is a non-issue," he said. "In fact, we are pretty selective on who we let in."

When asked where Radius might focus next to grow its network, Hartwell said, "Africa is a market we'll look at more in 2014 in general. There is more investment there from China and other parts of Asia, so it's becoming more important as our business grows in Asia/Pacific that we have a more robust footprint in other parts of Africa." He noted that the network also could add partners in "one or two other fairly small tertiary markets."

At the same time, Radius executives pointed to the increasing need to work cooperatively with competing agencies or agency networks. "We have seen a trend moving away from globalization and back to regionalized buying, and we have also seen a trend toward regionalized buying with multiple TMCs, so you may be serviced by Radius in Asia/Pacific, Carlson in Europe and BCD in the Americas," Hartwell explained. "In a lot of cases those customers are asking for one of the TMCs to act as the lead global data aggregator."

Hyland said the process in such scenarios is to "essentially replicate what we have done within the network with our members and establish a protocol and set of processes for working with those other agencies." He noted that Radius member agencies are held accountable for such data integration work and are measured on "the timeliness, completeness and validity of the data."