Kids back to school? Now back to work with a seven-point technology checklist for travel agents

NB: This is a guest article by Nikolai Avrutov, strategic relations developer at GimmonixCarsolize.

As vacations come to an end and kids get ready to go back to school, it’s time to focus on you instead.

That means travel agency owners to reflect on the hot season of 2012, and to consider what can be done to make sure that your company will be ready to make the most of the next hot season of 2013.

Put complex technological strategies aside, the list below outlines some of the more fundamental elements to consider – many of which are quick and easy to implement on one hand, and can have a profound, positive, long-term effect on the other:

1. Multi-channel sales – B2B/B2C/B2B2C/co-operation

  • Enable your agents to offer more products by providing them with streamlined tools, and access to more and better content.
  • Make sure your website not only generates leads but actually facilitates online sales (OTA frames do not count!)
  • Provide sub agents in other parts of the country/world with access to your system, and ability to distribute your product
  • Consider partnering with bodies to serve their travel needs: corporate clients, local sports organizations, etc – lots of companies out there are in need for dedicated travel agents to handle their travel arrangements.

2. Prepaid versus postpaid

If you are working with 3rd party provider, wholesalers and brokers, you may want to explore these two different payment options.

While many clients prefer to prepay for their travel arrangements, others might opt to pay at the hotel option. Adding payment flexibility to your products is bound to be well received by your clients.

3. Payment options

Whether you are a local specialist, or serving international clients, having the ability to accept various types of payments plays a major role in increasing your sales conversion. Make sure you are aware of your clients needs, and have the facility in place to accept:

  • Credit card payments
  • Mobile
  • Cash
  • Bank transfers

In addition, review the bonus points and reward miles that are prevalent on your market. If there is any chance you can partner with these programs to allow your clients redeem these points and miles with you – this can have a major impact on your sales.

4. Recovery of lost %

Transaction processing fees eat up a significant portion of your profits, and as such should be regularly reviewed.

  • Review how your currency conversion rates are managed. If your system allows you to control these rates, be sure to monitor currency fluctuations, and protect yourself from unexpected spikes.
  • Review your Credit Card processing fees. Talk to your payment processing provider. Review alternative options. If you can reduce your processing costs by 1%, it can have a massive effect on your bottom line.

5. Agent/client incentivizing

  • Add on sales – think of ways to encourage your agents to offer additional products that go along with what the client originally requested. Add on sales can have a massive effect on your bottom line on one hand, and save a major headache to your customer on another.
  • Establish performance rewards – commissions are great, but agents first and foremost are human, and as such would appreciate to be recognized for top performance. Prizes, draws, and employee-of-the-month initiatives would go a long way in motivating your agents to sell more, and provide better service to their customers.

6. Specialization

Product/destination vs. open supermarket:

  • It’s great to be a local specialist, but what do you do if someone contacts you for services outside of your area of specialization? Instead of turning customers away, equip yourself with access to broader range of products/services.

On another hand, consider what niche markets could be best served by your company:

  • Do you have agents speaking a foreign language? Can you address a local expatriate community? Finding unique skills within your organization, and channeling them towards further business development initiatives could prove as a great competitive strength that is not easy to replicate by your competitors.

7. Market research

Keep track of emerging technologies – travel technology constantly evolves. New and better tools emerge. Review the tools used by your agency, consider your needs, and explore options to further streamline your organization.

Shortening sales cycles, simplifying access to resources, and enhancing your distributional abilities are crucial factors to consider – especially at time of financial uncertainty.

Summary

Volatile economy, competitors, distribution channels, and technology – need to take the time to reflect on strengths and weaknesses, and use the down season to plan next steps and be ready in time to make most of upcoming opportunities

The cyclical nature of the travel industry, allows decision makers to take time and reflect on past accomplishments, current challenges, and future opportunities.

Advance planning will enable you to determine your most acute needs, and provide you with ample of time to find and implement required solutions in time for the next hot season!

NB: This is a guest article by Nikolai Avrutov, strategic relations developer at GimmonixCarsolize.

NB2: Kid blackboard image via Shutterstock.

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A founding principle of tnooz was a diversity of viewpoints from across the spectrum. Viewpoints are articles by guest contributors from around the travel and hospitality industries. The views expressed are the views and opinions of the author and do not reflect or represent the views of his employer, tnooz, its writers, or partners.

 

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