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    Planning FITs on line by Michele San Filipo, Travel Weekly

    nd speaking of on-line services for agents, a new site was created to help retailers plan FITs more efficiently. Boise, Idaho-based Tripaddiction.com is now available on a subscription basis for $1,000 a year.

    Founded by veterans with 25-plus years in creating and marketing travel products, Tripaddiction.com provides agents with suggested itineraries; hotel, restaurant and sightseeing recommendations, and turnkey direct-marketing materials.

    Tripaddiction.com is designed to help agents sell more FITs by significantly shortening the travel planning process."We created the site from scratch to help agents sell FITs and better qualify clients. Our tools reduce the time it takes to plan FITs to just a few hours," said managing partner Virginia Saunders, who started as an agent in 1984 and left to work in tour planning at Society Expeditions in Seattle.

    To help agents figure out where clients might want to go, the site contains one-page itinerary overviews that can be printed on agency letterhead. More in-depth itineraries also can be provided once clients know which trips interest them.

    Live links to hotel and supplier Web sites streamline the process, making it easier to obtain additional information and giving agents access to additional properties, according to Saunders.

    The site's query functions allow searches by destination and activity, so agents can create customized handouts for clients based on expressed interests, such as a list of wineries in Italy's Chianti region or golf courses in the south of France.

    Agents can download postcards, cover letters, ticket stuffers and flyers for all covered destinations, which can be personalized and used for building business.

    "One thing that makes us different is that all our materials are downloadable and designed to drive leisure business to agencies," added Saunders, who said the site walks agents through the process.

    The site has no affiliations to particular vendors, she said, so the information it provides remains unbiased.

    For additional information, take the on-line visitor's tour or send an e-mail to info@tripaddiction.com.

    -- Michele SanFilippo