IntlSOS 30 Years - From East to West - Page 147



08 Developing a Global Infrastructure | TravelTracker
Major Milestone
TravelTracker – Locating
Employees When it Matters Most
Another client need was for trip-specific information
to be proactively provided prior to a traveller’s
departure. This requirement had been raised in 1998
during discussions with a Canadian client (Nortel
Networks) which was sending engineers to China.
They wanted their people to have basic travel advice
before they went, which in turn meant knowing
where they were going to, and when. As ever,
responding to our client’s needs, we established a
basic service; it was a matter of linking to the client’s
travel service database, to retrieve travel information
and pass it on to the travellers and their managers.
It was well received but again much of the effort
was being done manually, relying on photocopiers
and highlighter pens. Tim and his team set about
creating automated emails: Automated Travel
Advisories (ATAs).
As Tim explains: “To collate such information on
all a company’s employees used to take days. Now
this information was available at the push of a
button. Travel Locator was an important step and it
was exactly what our clients wanted. Again it was a
case of seeing the opportunity and being in the
right place at the right time.”
Relying on us more and more for information about
travel arrangements, clients often informally asked
where their employees were. The team was looking
at ways of providing this when 9/11 happened. The
US aviation system was suddenly shut down and
many companies struggled to locate their staff,
both in the US and around the world. Many had no
idea what to do. Within days, a client who had sadly
lost employees on one of the hijacked planes called
for a web-based tool to track all travelling staff.
Other clients articulated the same need. The idea
now became a priority project. Travel Locator was
launched just three months later in December 2001,
providing clients and individual members with
travel itinerary information. It was compiled from
the global reservation systems data used by travel
management companies, and was retrievable by
region, country, flight number, or hotel booking.
TravelTracker is the world’s leading software in
its field. It tracks around 2.5 million international
travellers each year and is heavily relied on by
clients during major incidents. TravelTracker has
proved itself time and time again in crises around
the world, including civil unrest in Libya, Egypt,
and Tunisia, the Moscow airport bombing, the ash
cloud, the Haiti crisis, the Chilean earthquake and
the Japanese tsunami and nuclear disaster.
Left: Hudson River plane crash, New York, US,
15 January 2009. Credit: Corbis
The software went through a number of upgrades,
each adding functionality. A significant step took
place after the joint venture with Control Risks
in 2008. Until then ATAs and Travel Locator were
sold separately, although many clients bought both,
and Control Risks had similar offerings. Following
the JV the best features were combined to create
TravelTracker, described by Tim as “a best of
breed system.”
139

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