No one can deny that the Covid pandemic has had a devastating effect on the travel industry. And now the world is heading towards a possible recession, which also will challenge the travel industry.
In uncertain times like these, it's more important than ever for travel agencies to be proactive and adaptable. The travel industry is an extremely competitive one...
“Travel agencies must be innovative in order to survive and thrive.”
Says Tourpaq COO Maibritt Kjeldgaard.
When companies are facing challenging times, they may be tempted to save money by cutting the budget. However, this may not be the best time to do so. Instead, it may be a good time to invest in developing your back-office efficiency.
While front-office roles may be what customers see and interact with the most, it's the behind-the-scenes, or " backend," operations that separate the winners and losers in the travel industry.
So how can travel agencies best protect themselves in challenging times?
By automating back-end tasks, you can eliminate the need for manual work and improve the efficiency of your service. A perfect back-end system can mean increased productivity and lowered costs of operations for a company in the long run, and this is how to set your travel agency up for success.
Here are our best recommendations on features to develop.
The travel agency can reduce the costs of operations by using automationand eliminating the need for human resources in the process.
• Online Booking flow for guests. The benefits of taking customers’ bookings online are numerous. An online booking engine for travel agencies makes it easy for customers to get the price upfront. The travel agency does not have to maintain a lot of price examples on their website when there are rate changes, price changes from suppliers, or cheap flights. Once the booking is completed, you can have a ‘Customer self-service login’ where you can alter and add to the ticket within the limits you define. The booking flow must be efficient while at the same time taking them through the personal info steps, payment flow and upsales flow.
• Supplier management – You can automate a flow of constantly updated lists of information about the guests relating to i.e., room allocation, extra products requested, or events purchased. Automatically sends any changes or cancellations to this list, so that suppliers always have accurate, up-to-date data. You can offer suppliers a log-in to download relevant lists, giving them quick and easy access to all the information they need.
• Settlement - The process of settling hotel and other supplier bills can be very time consuming and often involves a lot of manual checking to ensure that all the invoices match what you have registered yourself. This process is prone to error because it is entirely reliant on human input. An invoice draft based on the data you have in the system can be automatically generated and sent to the supplier. This means that it is now up to the supplier to check that it matches their records and matches the number of guests they have had—no more manual work for you! When a supplier approves the invoice, you can automatically process it in our economy module and pay according to the conditions agreed upon. No more manual processes!
In today's world, it is more important than ever to step into your customer's shoes and see your business from the customer's perspective, if you want to stay ahead of the competition. Without understanding this key element, businesses would be at a standstill.
• Automatic email flow can add a touch of personalization to the customer experience – this can be done by providing information relevant to the customer at the right time. The email flow can start when the customer has made a booking by sending the ticket along with relevant information.
Then email follow-ups before departure with everything from payment reminders, purchase options, and relevant information about the check-in and departure at the airport. The email flow continues until the customers return home safely.
The email flow can also be integrated with survey and loyalty programs. When the customers get back from their vacation, they will get a mail with a link for a survey, so it always is an opportunity to stay on top of the customers’ wishes, and improvement is always taken into consideration.
Focus on current customer base - If you want your customers tokeep coming back, you need to focus on them and make sure they have a good experience. You can do this with great customer service, and also through marketing efforts.
• Improve your CRM - Each and every customer is unique. And that's why CRM is so powerful. No matter the business, having even a slight advantage over the competition comes down to knowing those individual customers better than anyone else--and using their needs to create an exceptional experience that pays dividends for your organization for years to come.
Whether you're in sales, marketing, or any other business practice that relies on conversations with people, it's important to keep your customer records upto date. Updating records ensures that communications are routed properly, and individuals can answer inquiries as quickly as possible. When customers get the answers they need in a timely manner, their satisfaction is greatly enhanced and their willingness to do repeat business increases dramatically.
• You can search for past customers who have bought trips or services before, and access information about what they liked or purchased in the past. This means that consultants can quickly form an overview of what their customers like and offer personalized advice. As you know, loyal customers are what make abusiness go round.
• With marketing automation, you can automate all the steps between sales and marketing, so you can focus more on the overall strategy and spend time nurturing your customers, that show interest in your travel destinations. You must be able to engage your customers at the right time with personalized messages. While at the same time guarding their privacy.
You will get more insight into your customers’ behaviors and get better at identifying and targeting valuable customers.
Develop exciting new products for your customers - If you want to succeed in business, you need to provide value to your customers. This can be done by developing new products and services that they will find useful. By doing this, you will not only be able to sell more to your existing customers but also attract new ones. (It is usually cheaper to make use of existing relationships than to find new customers)
• Connecting your bookingsystem to the GDS. As you know, training new people in GDS systems is veryr esource-intensive and it takes a long time for employees to become good and self-driving. With an integrated GDS solution you can retrieve routes completely automatically and thus you do not need to be a world champion in the use of GDS systems. An integrated GDS system can update prices for flights completely automatically based on set parameters, thus again saving a lot of resources, and ensuring that the prices are always up to date.
It is awell-known fact that the market always returns after a crisis - which is why it's important to use this time wisely to optimize your business.
As we all know, time is a precious commodity. As we enter a new era of business, those companies that have taken the time to review and optimize their business will often come out on top.
By taking a proactive approach and anticipating the potential benefits, of saving time and resources in the long run. Additionally, by keeping their customers’ and suppliers’ needs in mind, they are able to deliver even better service.
So, take some time and look at what opportunities lies in your company, you will not regret it.
Want to learn how to improve operational efficiency and increase revenue? Grap our free Ultimate Guide on how to grow your travel business.
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