- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 25, 2001

Wary travelers are taking advantage of a relatively new phenomenon known as "travel intelligence," and one area company says it is reaping the benefit.
Inquiries to Ijet, based in Annapolis, have shot up sixtyfold since Sept. 11, said company CEO John Power.
"We've been swamped, and our big task now is responding to everyone, of course," he said.
Ijet, a six-month-old private company, provides constantly updated information about travel destinations, flight delays, weather, customs and any other data that might affect travel plans.
Interest from Fortune 500 companies has been strong, Mr. Power said, as businesses begin to resume regular travel practices.
He said Ijet's client list includes Fortune 500 companies numbering in the "high double digits." Big clients include Prudential Securities, global travel agency Carlson WagonLit, and Worldspan and Amadeus, two prominent reservation systems. Companies pay $250 per year, per user.
But individuals travelers, who can sign up to get Ijet information via the company's Web site, are also interested, the company says. Individuals can pay $25 for a customized travel report.
Ijet has few competitors that do exactly what it does. Some travel-service companies like Denver-based Navigant International offer similar intelligence reports, but their focus appears to lean more toward monitoring and streamlining companies' travel budgets. Meanwhile, many travel service firms, including Travelocity.com, are turning to Ijet as an outsourcing firm.
Mr. Power, a former executive with Air France and British Airways, said he noticed a need for more up-to-date travel information, and was brought on board when the company was founded in April by Bruce McIndoe and Paul Stiles, two veterans of the National Security Agency.
While books, Web sites and travel magazines provide useful information, Mr. Powers said, they do not always provide the most up-to-date information.
Things like transportation strikes, poor weather or civil unrest at destinations must be provided to travelers when such events happen, he said.
In addition, locations of important places like embassies and consulate's offices have been known to change.
"If you have a year- or-two-year-old information, that could be problematic," Mr. Power said.
At locations reminiscent of NASA command centers, Ijet gathers its information daily from 5,000 sources in 14 languages, including most major newspapers and news broadcasts around the world. The information is then verified by the company, which analyzes it and issues summaries to its clients. The information is distributed either in print form or, if the person is already traveling, via e-mail to a computer, cell phone or personal data assistant.
Information supplied by Ijet falls into 10 categories ranging from safety and security issues to languages and currency.
On Sept. 11, Ijet clients received constant updates about the travel situation in New York and Washington, and were given updated information about alternate ways to arrive at their destinations.
"In a macabre way, Sept. 11 made it all relevant what we're doing," Mr. Power said.
Business-travel observers said interest in services like those offered by Ijet has increased in the past six weeks.
"In general, there's a heightened interest in getting more information for traveling," said Allison Marble, spokeswoman for the National Business Travel Association, based in Alexandria. "I definitely believe that getting the most information is important to a lot of companies right now, so obviously a service like Ijet's is of great interest."
Investor interest in Ijet was high even before Sept. 11. In June, the company snared $8.2 million in second-round funding, led by EuclidSR, a New York venture capital firm. So far, the company has raised more than $17 million in two rounds of funding since April. Mr. Power said this most recent money will be used to expand international operations and develop more services for clients.
He said that in the near future, the company also hopes to distribute its information reports in languages other than English.

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