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Travel company Lunn Poly will use a virtual travel assistant called Lisa to give advice to customers on choosing and booking a holiday

The agent technology is part of an integrated and transactional travel portal offering online bookings being developed by Lunn Poly and the independent software consultancy, Plato Computer Services.

Eventually, the technology will link Lunn Poly's consumer Web site, a customer call centre and the company's high street stores.

Lunn Poly hopes this will provide a single view of the customer that will span all its distribution channels.

The second stage of the project went live in mid-November. According to Colin Baker, principal project consultant at Plato, the site is based on BEA WebLogic running on Sun Solaris.

Plato designed and built a dynamic Java-based search engine that provides links to Lunn Poly's associated companies as well as its own products.

"We have taken a multi-tier approach," he explained. "The front end server handles interaction with customers while the back end takes care of integration with legacy IT systems."

An integrated system will allow customers to view a wider range of holidays. For example, a customer visiting www.lunnpoly.com will be able to check the availability of packages provided by Lunn Poly's parent, Thomson Travel Group.

The site's business logic uses Java Beans, which Jones believes will help Lunn Poly implement cross-selling and improve the accuracy of the site's search engine.

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