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Hosted Desktops for Travel Agencies: Centralized, Flexible IT

Hosted desktops can benefit businesses in the travel industry by providing them with an IT infrastructure that:

  • Allows users to access all of their applications and files in a single online workspace
  • Can be accessed from branch offices and by telecommuters
  • Isn’t susceptible to frequent downtime incidents
  • Makes it easier for them to monitor and manage their employees
  • Is PCI DSS compliant
  • Make it easier to add and subtract employees
  • Provides them with a competitive advantage in a highly competitive industry

Hosted desktops are basically Windows desktop operating systems that you access via the Internet. Instead of the Windows desktop OS being installed on a PC, the OS is installed on the server of an IT hosting company.

You pay the IT hosting company a monthly fee to host the desktop for you, and you can access the desktop from any Internet-connected computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Each hosted desktop is assigned to a specific user, and any changes to the desktop are saved when the user logs out—so any files, applications, and settings that are on the desktop when the user logged out will still be there when he or she logs back in.

The benefits of hosted desktops for businesses in the travel industry include:

They allow travel company employees to access all of their applications and files in a single online workspace. To do their jobs, many travel agency employees need to be able to access applications called computer reservation systems (CRS), such as Apollo or Sabre, as well as other applications such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Access, Adobe Photoshop, and Intuit QuickBooks. They also need to be able to access all of their files and all company and customer records.

Hosted desktops allow travel industry employees to access all of their applications and files from a single online workspace, since you can install any Windows-compatible application on a hosted desktop (including applications that are only compatible with prior versions of Windows, such as Windows XP), and you can use them to access centralized data storage solutions such as Microsoft SharePoint.

Hosted desktops can also be integrated with PBX and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems and email server software such as Microsoft Exchange.

They allow travel companies to integrate their branch offices and telecommuters. Travel companies tend to have physically dispersed workforces, either because they have multiple branch offices or because many of their employees work from home. With hosted desktops, travel companies can provide branch office employees and telecommuters with access to the same applications and files as employees at its headquarters, since hosted desktops can be accessed from anywhere with any Internet-connected computer, tablet, smartphone, or thin client.

They allow travel company employees to access their applications and files at all times. Travel agencies are 24x7x365 businesses—they need to be available to clients that want to make travel arrangements before or after normal working hours during the week or on weekends, or that need assistance when traveling. Fortunately, most hosting companies monitor and maintain their hosted desktops 24x7x365, which minimizes outages; they also provide 24x7x365 technical support, so travel company employees can contact them for help with their hosted desktops at any time.

They make it easier for the travel companies’ supervisors to monitor and manage their employees. Monitoring and managing travel company employees can be difficult due to the aforementioned fact that many of them work in different branch offices or from home, but hosted desktops make it a little bit easier, because supervisors can monitor and control these desktops via the hosting company’s online administrative portal (where they can check if an employee is logged in to his or her desktop, reset passwords, block access, etc.).

They make it easier for travel companies to comply with PCI DSS. If a business wants to be able to accept credit or debit cards as payment, it has to comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS), which is a set of IT security standards developed and enforced by a consortium of payment card companies including Visa, American Express, Discover, and MasterCard. Signing up for PCI DSS-compliant hosted desktops is an easier way of achieving PCI DSS compliance than implementing all of the necessary security measures yourself.

They make it easier for travel companies to add and subtract employees. Hosted desktops make it easier for travel companies to add and subtract employees, since they can be deployed or deleted in as little as a few minutes; most new employees won’t have to be taught how to use them, since most people already have a working knowledge of Windows desktop operating systems; and they don’t require the purchase of any expensive servers or storage devices. They allow travel companies to easily add temporary workers during the busy travel seasons, as well as permanently increase their workforce without having to worry about getting stuck with a bunch of expensive, unused hardware if the expansion doesn’t work out.

They provide a competitive advantage in a highly-competitive market. The market for travel agency services has shrunk significantly over the last ten or so years as most consumers now plan vacations and book flights, hotel rooms, and rental cars themselves using self-booking sites like Hotwire, Expedia, and Priceline. Hosted desktops can help travel agencies gain a competitive advantage in a difficult market by, among other things, increasing their employees’ productivity (with anywhere-accessibility and support for multiple offices and telecommuting), maximizing their availability and responsiveness to customers (by minimizing downtime), and making it easier for them to adapt to market conditions (by being scalable).

To sign up for hosted desktops, travel agencies just need to get in touch with an IT hosting company, who will set up and deploy the desktops for them.