Today’s travellers have more resources at their disposal than ever before. They can research and book trips online using a multitude of gadgets, from iPads to smartphones, and consulting a number of websites, from Google to TripAdvisor. What’s more, they are performing these functions on the go, when the mood takes them – any time, any place, anywhere.
But rather than ringing the death knell for traditional travel agents, this scenario has created new opportunities to capture an audience that despite being digitally motivated and enabled, also craves personalisation and the human touch. Smart travel agents have therefore evolved to better meet the needs of today’s attention-hungry travellers.
How Have They Done it?
Firstly, they’ve conceded that the transactional model no longer works, because online players do it better. Cautious of being commoditised as just another sales channel, the successful agents have therefore focused their efforts on the customer experience and building long-term relationships. The 21st Century travel agent is a “concierge, advisor and confidante”, according to Skift’s ‘Megatrends Defining Travel in 2016’ report.
Rather than fear technology, agents are embracing it, using tools such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp 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 with the daily lives of their customers, providing them with travel information on the fly.
“The travel agent of the future is focused on the end-to-end customer experience, utilising technology to forge relationships with travellers,” confirms Skift.
“Success for travel agents moving forward rests on continuously learning more about their customers. They’re diving deep into deciphering data in a holistic manner.”
Agents need to collect data to map out the travel habits of their clients, but much of this will be gleaned through personal interactions. In-depth conversations and post-trip debrief will give advisors an advantage that online booking sites can’t replicate. New technology can be a help, not a hindrance to travel agents, as long as they use their knowledge and client relationships to their advantage.
Traveltek Software Solutions
Agents must also make sure they use next-generation technology to manage and automate their business. Companies like Traveltek provide a suite of fully-integrated solutions that empower travel agents and operators to be the ultimate travel concierge, enabling them to dynamically package custom itineraries using their product knowledge and our advanced technology.
They can hand-pick components of bespoke travel plans from their own stock, or through the Traveltek API, which connects them to more than 200 leading travel suppliers worldwide. Our web-based solutions will then bring the entire package together in the language and currency they choose. Our CRM helps agents manage client bookings, enquiries and data, plus we build consumer-facing websites tailored to their exact needs.
Over the last 20 years we’ve transformed offline travel firms into e-commerce success stories and today, Traveltek websites are built to be mobile friendly with today’s digitally-enabled traveller in mind. Intuitive, user-friendly and responsive to all mobile and tablet devices, our websites make sure your customers keep you and your travel business top of mind.
With your travel expertise and our tech know-how, you can become the ultimate travel concierge. We will automate the predictable, while you humanise the exceptional.