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All I want for Christmas… Traveltek reveals official UK agents’ festive wish list

Tech firm’s Group Product Manager Chris Brown discovers what travel professionals countrywide are asking Santa for this year

The first official UK travel agents’ festive wishlist has been unveiled by Traveltek Group Ltd, providing insight into what travel professionals countrywide will be asking Santa for this Christmas.

From flight searches in just one click to a ban on mystery shoppers, agents have revealed all to the travel technology firm’s group product manager, Chris Brown, during his recent UK client tour.

In the run-up to Christmas he’s been meeting Traveltek customers all over the country to find out how the company can boost the User Experience across its suite of products and during his discussions, agents not only made valuable suggestions on tech enhancements, but used the opportunity to voice their frustrations over certain issues impacting the industry.

As a result, Traveltek can reveal what agents wish for most this Christmas. The top five requests are:

#1 More commission

Well, there are no surprises here. Agents want more commission in acknowledgement of their expertise and loyalty. They have a choice of suppliers and they will favour the trade-friendly ones. Agents don’t like the new credit card surcharges sneaking their way in either and please don’t tell them to sell add-ons to offset the cost, because they do that very well already.

#2 Flight searches in just one click

Agents want to make flight searches in just one click to save time and improve their customer service. It’s a tall order, but it could soon be possible. As part of Traveltek’s User Experience transformation strategy, led by Brown, fewer clicks and advanced search and filter options will all be part of the package. Watch this space…

#3 The ultimate fam trip

It’s time for suppliers and destinations to up the ante on the fam trip front. Agents are demanding more for their time spent out of the office and in line with consumer trends, want travel ‘experiences’ that are a departure from the norm, rather than trips to mainstream resorts in popular destinations. Top picks include river cruises in Asia, preferably on the Yangtze or Mekong; safaris in Africa; and adventurous excursions to off-the-beaten track destinations, with one agent suggesting a private seaplane trip to little-known Bawah Island in the Anambas Islands, 150 nautical miles from Singapore – a new destination that opened this year that is targeting discerning eco-travellers!

#4 To sell more cruise

Agents love selling cruise. It’s a booming market, with a record 1.9 million holidaymakers from the UK and Ireland taking an ocean cruise in 2016, according to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), and an even larger number anticipated in 2017. Cruise earns big commission and lends itself to plenty of pre- and post-sailing add-ons, so travel firms want more ships and itineraries to sell to their clients. Agents said having the right technology in place to sell cruise made a big difference, with Traveltek’s next-generation cruise booking platform already proving a big hit. Traveltek CruiseNX offers travel and cruise specialists a raft of enhanced capabilities designed to drive productivity and enhance the User Experience, from a more streamlined booking process and the ability to book multiple cabins in one search journey, to fast filtering that helps agents find the ideal cruise based on their customer’s preferences and profile.

#5 A ban on mystery shoppers, timewasters – and Brexit!

Agents revealed a real aversion to mystery shoppers who pop up in their stores and then report their findings to the trade media – it really puts them on edge. However, their dislike of timewasters was more vehement. You know the ones; those customers who come into store or call and ask for ideas and quotes and then book online. They also told Brown their fears over Brexit – many are still uncertain about how it will impact their European business and would like Santa to remove some politicians from Number 10 this Christmas. They suggested transporting them to the North Pole to live with the elves where they can focus on wrapping presents and stay away from further EU negotiations.

Brown, who has now returned to Traveltek’s Glasgow HQ, said the agent festive wishlist provided the company with some valuable feedback.

“What was very clear from my UK tour was that agents love to chat and appreciate being asked for their feedback on travel technology and general industry issues,” said Brown.

“Traveltek has always evolved its product offering based on close discussions with its trade partners and as we look ahead to 2018, we can promise some exciting developments that will address many points on the agent wishlist – and more.”

Brown added: “While we can’t change the political landscape, we can make it easier than ever before for agents to sell leisure travel and cruise by enhancing the User Experience and introducing attractive features that are more akin to some of the world’s leading consumer websites.”

Traveltek appointed Brown as Group Product Manager earlier this year to spearhead the company’s User Experience (UX) transformation strategy.

It was a new role created for the former and boss, designed to harness his extensive OTA and web-based travel review experience to make major enhancements to Traveltek’s entire B2B suite, in particular its iSell and iTour products that are used by a large number of agents and operators across the UK.

Brown is an advocate of taking the best of B2C websites and applying them to B2B platforms and as a result, Traveltek will be unveiling a raft of major technology enhancements in 2018.