International has partnered with Safe2Travel, a Singapore-based travel agency specialising in corporate travel, to set up a virtual
travel agency (VTA) in the online community, Second Life. The VTA was launched at Abacus' 7th International Conference in Kota
Mr Brett Henry, Vice-President, Agency Marketing for Abacus International said the joint move into Second Life was a research
and development rather than purely commercial initiative and was intended to provide valuable lessons for Abacus, Safe2Travel and for
the15,000 other travel agency locations who make their travel bookings via the Abacus GDS travel bookings system.
"With all online travel bookings in Asia Pacific projected to grow from US$15.9 billion in 2005 to US$55 billion by 2010, it is vital that we
explore the new frontiers of online booking and also find ways to connect with the alternative economies such as Second Life growing
around the internet," Mr Henry said.
"Rather than viewing the Internet as a threat to the travel agency business, Abacus believes that this channel is an excellent platform for
travel agents to expand their market presence, and is committed to helping travel agents make the most of this channel. Setting up a VTA in
Second Life is merely another step in supporting travel agents' potential growth in the online realm,"
Since its launch in 2003, Second Life has made headlines around the world for its distinctive 'reality-based' concept that allows users to
construct a 'virtual life' and go about routine activities as they would in their daily life. The online community is estimated to be growing at
20-40% monthly on average, with this rate even higher in markets such as
"Online visitors to the Abacus/Safe2Travel virtual travel agency can luxuriate in an ultra-modern double-storied building which is sleekly
furnished to create a relaxing environment for customers, Second Life members can now patronise the VTA to book and customise their
travel packages, and undertake the travel in real life," said Lim Joon Kiat, General Manager, Commercial from Safe2Travel.
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