At the turn of the century, the travel industry was predicting the slow demise of bricks-and-mortar agents.
The Internet, said experts, would replace retail agencies as customers looked to big Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) to search and book their travel plans.
Eighteen years on, the OTAs are thriving, but so too are the vast majority of offline agencies. They survived the evolution because they adapted their business models and instead of shunning technology, they embraced it.
What the experts also hadn’t taken into account was that OTAs lacked the human touch, which in a digital age, customers are now craving more than ever before.
Successful travel agents have therefore focused their efforts on the customer experience and building long-term relationships with their clients – and they have used technology to make this happen.
The 21st Century travel agent is – and will continue to be – a concierge, advisor and confidante, using a variety of tools, from social media to online messaging services, to communicate with their clients.
Through these media, travellers can call, text or message their travel advisor to fix a problem mid-trip, or even to quiz them before making travel plans.
As a result, agents are becoming more integrated in the daily lives of their customers, providing them with travel information on the fly – it’s the modern-day version of the human touch they desire.
Successful agents are also realising the need for personalisation – and they need technology to help them do it.
Going forward, big data and a sophisticated CRM are the tools they will need to make sure their sales and marketing tactics are personal and targeted, particularly if they are to keep pace with the big-name OTAs.
The travel agent of the future will be focused on the end-to-end customer experience, using technology to forge relationships with travellers. Their success will rest on continuously learning more about their clients, requiring them to analyse data in a holistic manner so they can map out their travel habits.
Agency managers will also need next-generation travel technology to manage and automate their business, from reporting to packaging, giving their travel professionals time to focus on service, whether it’s inspiring their clients to book or conducting a post-trip de-brief.
Adopting a multi-channel approach will also remain important, giving customers the option of how they book, whether in person, by phone or online, and ensuring if they do take the web option, the experience is quick and user-friendly across every device.
Traveltek has worked alongside the travel trade for two decades, developing specialist travel technology to help agents focus on what they do best – selling an experience.
We provide a suite of fully-integrated solutions that empower travel professionals to be the ultimate travel concierge, acknowledging that technology should facilitate and enhance customer service, rather than dominate the transaction or replace human interaction.
Our complete, customised solutions meet the travel industry’s unique needs, performing a number of complex functions all on one integrated system – from searches, booking and packaging, to business management, reporting, documentation, and much more.
Traveltek’s dynamic packaging and cruise booking solutions are second to none, giving travel professionals the ability to use their product and customer knowledge to hand-pick every component of a customised itinerary and sell it as one package.
Our API connects them to more than 300 leading travel suppliers worldwide, including major cruise players, so there is no need to source each supplier separately.
At the same time our CRM helps agents manage client bookings, enquiries and data, helping them to take personalisation to new heights, plus we build consumer-facing websites for travel agents tailored to their exact needs.
Over the last 20 years we’ve transformed offline travel firms into e-commerce success stories and in 2018, Traveltek’s websites are built to be mobile-friendly to meet the needs of today’s digitally-enabled traveller.
With agents of the future in mind, we are currently rolling out data-driven UX (User Experience) and CRO (Conversion Rate Optimisation) services – new features that will drive up conversion rates by optimising front-end user journeys on agencies’ B2C travel websites.
We are also investing heavily in UX enhancements, with a next-generation cruise booking platform, CruiseNX, already available, designed to drive productivity and enhance the user experience – ultimately helping agents sell more efficiently.
There’s much more planned across our entire leisure suite and we can promise agents advanced and powerful booking tools that will keep them ahead of the competition for many years to come.