"We will continually identify and fulfill our clients' individual travel needs through quality products and competitive pricing with a passion for client satisfaction."

This mission statement is written on the back of personal cards distributed by officers of Murdock Travel Management Inc., 36 S. State, as a reminder to them the direction the company is taking, according to Jeffrey J. Hansen, president and chief executive officer.The direction the company is taking involves the latest computer technology that will help offset the lower airline fares and the resultant commissions. In short, technology will allow the company to book more reservations with less effort.

One of the main concerns at Murdock is trying to project what travel will be like in the future, but uppermost in the minds of Murdock employees is meeting its mission statement. "I feel we have the moral obligation to find the best prices available and provide the best service," said Hansen.

"In the age of declining ticket prices we can't stay in business doing things the way all travel agencies do it. We made a decision to go with technology," Hansen said.

After a year of thorough research, Murdock selected SABRE, the reservation system owned by American Airlines. More than 20 Murdock employees served on committees and the company also asked travel agents to supply information on what they need to be more effective.

The software Murdock uses comes from SABRE Travel Information Network, Dallas, Texas.

By using e-mail, a travel manager in a business or a person sitting at home with the right computer equipment can interface with Murdock's computer system for booking a trip complete with a hotel and rental car. The person can request specific times, airlines or hotels or can give some leeway on each.

The request is tied into the SABRE reservation system and it is so sophisticated that if the traveler requests first-class seats on an airplane and the company allows only coach class, it will be caught. Once the reservation is made, the system verifies what has been booked to the client, said David E. Strobel, Murdock's vice president of sales and marketing.

In only two minutes the SABRE system can find the airline, hotel and rental care preferences, review the corporate policy on what is allowed and print the rate confirmation number. Strobel said the cost of sending e-mail is less than sending a fax.

Another piece of modern technology that will leave you scratching your head in wonderment is BargainFinder Plus, another part of the SABRE Network. A person calls into Murdock requesting information on the cheapest possible fare for a trip between two cities.

Richard B. Jensen, senior vice president of product development and industry relations, said that within seven to 10 seconds the operator tells the caller the lowest possible three options and the costs involved.

In the past, the travel agent took about two hours to research the lowest possible fares and the route that would be taken. With SABRE, the computer gets creative and looks at all possible routes - all in less than 10 seconds. The lowest possible rate might take a person from Salt Lake City through Minneapolis, Minn., and into New York City, rather than traditional routes the caller might know.

By using this program, Jensen said Murdock was able to get a lower-than-published fare 78 percent of the time. And this doesn't specify "red-eye special" flights, plus it gives the person a chance to name the departure and arrival times.

BargainFinder Plus saves a person a few hundred dollars on a ticket, but it save companies thousands of dollars. For example, one of Murdock's corporate clients that spends $1 million on travel annually saved $65,000 in one quarter, which translates to a $260,000 savings in 12 months.

Another example is a businessman suddenly required to fly to Syracuse, N.Y., who calls Murdock. With no advance reservation the round-trip ticket would cost $1,371. But, by letting the computer find alternatives, the cost is lowered to $1,260.

The Automated Quality Users Assurance is another high-tech program at Murdock that assures the customer of quality service. The system works like an army of electronic travel agents who take over where other travel agencies leave off, according to Murdock's promotional material.

These electronic agents, in a matter of seconds, check every aspect of the reservation for accuracy and consistency. Each message is then sent back to the agent to ensure that both agent and client are kept fully informed of all available options. AQUA then continues to monitor the reservation to ensure than each client always gets the best seat at the best possible price.

If a person plans to arrive in a city on a certain date and spend the first night with a relative, the reservation will show that person booked into a hotel the second night. The AQUA system assumes the person would be booked into a hotel the first night after arriving and kicks the reservation out.

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It is returned to the agent who verifies the setup is the one desired.

Murdock also has the Travel Technologies Group software that was developed by a travel agency in Georgia. It is for groups leaving or coming to Salt Lake City and can arrange airline tickets, hotels, activities, gifts, golf times or other things for members of the group.

John Rasmussen, Murdock's chief financial officer, said high tech is valuable in providing reports for customers who want to see how their travel money is being spent. Russell Allred, a program analyst, said he can set up any type of report a client wants and Murdock is the only company west of the Mississippi River to have the software that makes it easy to change the format of the reports.

With Murdock writing 1,500 reservations per day, the company uses SABRE's Travel Base software that allows Ryan V. Davis, the controller, to review the company's productivity in a matter of seconds. He has printed a thick report containing thousands of figures about the company's business - all with high tech.

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