Aldmyr pitches travel package to fed agencies

Government travelers frustrated by the administrative lead time often associated with booking flights might find relief through a new version of a travel-planning software package aimed exclusively at the federal sector. Aldmyr Systems Inc. Lanham Md. recently released Version 4.0 of PerDiemAzing which gives employees online access to the airline industry's major computer reservation systems.

PerDiemAzing 4.0 within the next few weeks will be shipping to agencies such as the Department of Veterans Affairs which bought a 5 000-user site license through the Transportation Department. DOT and the Defense Department since 1995 have held contracts with Aldmyr Systems and DOT extends the use of that vehicle to civilian agencies. The new version of the travel package was unveiled early this month at an annual conference of the Society of Travel Agents in Government.

"The system can be implemented through multiple packages tailored for either the traveler or travel arrangers " said Don Bailey the president of Aldmyr. "We have customers that are using it both ways at a single site." Bailey maintained that PerDiemAzing 4.0 has vastly improved from earlier product releases. "Before travelers had to select from static data routes provided through a travel agent and then the travel agent would book the flights."

However the product is more than just a gateway to computer reservation systems (CRS) maintained by the airlines because PerDiemAzing takes into account government travel regulations and authorizations. "For example certain travelers will be pre-authorized to go ahead and book travel arrangements and as a part of the process they will be able to go online " said George Kosovic an independent contractor working with Aldmyr on government sales of PerDiemAzing.

"But in certain workgroups within agencies managers may not want to give the traveler that much leeway " Kosovic added. "In that case administrators can route documents and travelers can indicate their preference for flights or rental cars which would then be routed to a manager for approval or they could be automatically routed to a travel agency."

Bailey and Kosovic said that packages such as PerDiemAzing would not put travel agencies out of federal business. "There is a fair amount of concern among travel agencies that this somehow cuts them out of the process " Kosovic said. "But really it offers them an advantage of not having to perform a lot of the lower-order functions - the nuts and bolts of the travel administrator. There are a lot of different cases where travel gets very complicated " and a travel agent will therefore retain a vital role he said. Kosovic pointed to instances in which travelers change plans midstream or when the government sends a group of travelers to a common location.Government agencies can purchase PerDiemAzing Version 4.0 for as little as $60 per seat for a 2 000-user minimum and be provided with the software and annual maintenance. The software runs in several versions of Microsoft Corp. Windows and in the Unix operating environments. Included in the new version are digital-signature capabilities to enhance paperless routing of travel orders.

Darren McKnight a computer systems analyst for the VA said his agency is moving into full production of paperless processing of employee travel arrangements following a series of pilot initiatives during the last two years. "The preparers love it because it eliminates the typewriter " McKnight said. "Without it they were using the typewriter or a forms engine which is just like a typewriter. The biggest benefit for us has been electronic routing and the time that has saved the preparers." McKnight estimated that his agency spent about $300 000 on PerDiemAzing and has equipped 3 400 users with the product.

-- Jones is a free-lance writer based in Falls Church Va.

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