Budget Rent A Car to build extranet on Telus services

Budget Rent A Car Corp. has completed successfully the first phase and entered the second phase of an extranet based on Telus Interactive Enterprise.

“We’ve got a three-phase approach,” said Dave Demchuck, manager of revenue and information technology for Budget in Calgary. “We have had no problem at all so far in the first two phases and we’re on budget, so we’re quite pleased.”

The first phase involved bringing the insurance industry and tour wholesale industry into Budget’s network, Demchuck said.

“Some of the feedback we got from [the insurance company] was they were tired of phoning and waiting in the queue to get an answer or faxing back and forth. We basically automated the entire process,” by putting it on the Internet secured by logins and passwords, Demchuck said.

Tour partners can use the extranet to set up car rentals and print vouchers for clients to be able to pick up cars.

“In phase two, we’re going to enhance the profile so we can drill down and make the experience even more personalized.”

Telus Interactive Enterprise uses Broadvision’s personalization engine to keep records on user preferences and other data.

“The end user comes onto the site and enters a user ID and password. Their information is pulled from a database and their session at the site is captured in what’s called a session manager, so it’s not a cookie,” explained Michael LaPalme, senior product manager for interactive commerce for Telus in Calgary.

“Interactive Enterprise is selling, business to business or business to consumer. It’s procurement. It’s knowledge management, whether it’s an intranet or extranet deployment. It’s billing. It can be a portal strategy as well,” LaPalme said.

But Interactive Enterprise is not a turn-key package, said Darren Massey, director of interactive application services for Telus in Calgary.

“It’s a custom solution. We’ve put in place the basic functionality that enables all of this one-to-one personalization. It’s got a database, the ability to uniquely identify and manage these profiles. It has an infrastructure that supports a high level of scalability, millions and millions of users coming into the site, so it scales very high. It’s got the capability for certainly managing a catalogue of information…It’s got interfaces for billing, for clearing a credit card transaction, for managing your taxes and shipping, and all of those fun things.

“But in essence, it’s still a service-ready infrastructure, meaning we then work with the client to determine their particular need, their internal systems that we need to interface and integrate with…and then we customize it to fit their environment and business goal,” Massey explained.

Demchuck said Budget chose Telus over packages from AT&T and Sprint partially because of the company’s Calgary location, but also because “the other ones were kind of pieces and parts. We wanted a lot of customization done and the other two applications, they weren’t willing to customize them.”

Interactive Enterprise can be hosted by Telus or the customer, depending on the customization.

“For a business of our size, it made sense to do a package with them and it worked out quite well for us…Our decision was twofold: one had to do with the back-end network and the ability to not have any risk in terms of the hardware, the networking, the support. All of that was based at Telus, so there was very little risk in it for us except for the development,” said Demchuck, adding the second reason was Telus’s large backbone and national reach.

Phase two will also include tendered agreements in the corporate world that would allow travel departments to access reports on spending habits in terms of car rentals from their company.

“And we’re also going to look at spreading it across the country in phase three so customers could book for any city in Canada,” Demchuck said. Phase three will also include intelligent e-mail routing for cities that aren’t linked on the frame network with the rest of Telus and Budget.

The national vision will occur in baby steps, he said, because each franchise owner will have to be individually convinced to participate in the extranet.

“This (phase one) was just to build the foundation and show them that it can be done,” Demchuck said.

Telus can be reached at (403) 543-2000 within Calgary or 1-800-543-2542 nationally. The company’s Web site is located at www.tac.telus.com.