Tourism continues to be a source of frequent business in the U.S., both for people visiting and traveling from the country. Travel spending has increased again following the pandemic, and is expected to continue increasing. In fact, the amount of money spent on travel is expected to exceed $190 billion in 2023.
With this in mind, a travel agency has a lot of potential demand. People are traveling at all times of the year for reasons like holidays, visiting family, and time off work. To make sure your travel business is able to flourish as much as possible, putting thought into your business operations and processes is vital. Especially because travel agencies are changing, thanks to new technologies as well as new trends in the market.
Table of contents
2.1. Get online
2.2. AI pricing
2.3. Automatic scheduling
2.4. Contactless payments
3.1. Technical support
3.2. Detailed reporting
3.5 API integrations
How have travel agencies changed?
Changes to the travel industry are reflections of a change in how customers are traveling. One of the biggest changes to the way customers and travel agencies interact has been the internet. Now, customers generally search for, compare, and independently book trips all from a laptop screen.
People have more information than ever about their travel possibilities, about travel rules and the laws in different countries, and about places to stay and go on their vacation. Deciding on and booking a vacation is increasingly autonomous.
What does this mean for the travel business? It means you need to be doing more to get noticed and to provide value to consumers. Adjust your operational strategy to focus on giving prospective travelers personalized attention. And offer additional services as well that go beyond booking or help with accommodations or anything else tourists are doing on their own.
How can your travel agency refine its operations management?
Operations management in a modern travel company means adapting to the tools customers are using to organize travel, and rethinking what your role in the process is. And because so much of travel planning happens online now, your business operations also have to move online.
The first step towards operating a modern travel agency is to have a website. Most people will search for and book travel options online, and a website is an ideal place for you to advertise as well. Make sure your website is easy for visitors to navigate and all the information you include is clear.
Visitors should be able to book easily and without having to follow too many steps or be redirected to another page. Another thing to make sure of is that customers can get any questions answered quickly. One solution is to add a chatbot to your website.
With a chatbot, it’s even easier for customers to find information, since they can ask for it directly. They’ll be able to compare prices and service packages easily and make decisions faster. Maybe most importantly, having a chatbot means questions can be answered without any delay, since you don’t have to answer the phone or reply to an email.
Artificial intelligence makes various aspects of operations management much simpler for travel companies. One example is pricing; instead of poring over data and projections and what the competition is doing, companies like Ryanair set their prices with AI tools.
The tools determine the best price to charge by weighing the needs of different types of travelers – whether they’re business passengers who value comfort or vacationers cutting costs wherever possible – to come up with ticket prices that will make the plane as full as possible.
Travel is always fluctuating as routes get disrupted for a variety of reasons, and delays cost you money as well as customers. That’s one reason that automatic scheduling systems are useful; another is that customers choose trips based primarily on travel time, and automated systems can compute travel times much faster than a person.
Any scheduling system you use for business operations needs to consider:
- Your operational capacity: When the system is analyzing potential travel routes, it needs enough operational data to know whether a route is feasible or not.
- Market data: A good automatic scheduling system streamlines your operations management by finding the most popular and most profitable routes that competing travel businesses offer.
- Outside factors: There are several things that impact whether a particular travel plan is possible, such as maintenance costs, the number of available gates/platforms, and vehicle constraints.
Dynamic and automated scheduling systems are indispensable operations management tools, since they don’t just make life easier, but correspond to a slight increase in revenue.
Contactless payments are efficient, convenient, and offer customers multiple choices of payment platform. They also save you hours from an accounting and administrative perspective.
Offering a contactless payment option makes checkout faster both on and offline. Supporting as many types of payment as possible is a good way to personalize the experience to customers. Finally, contactless payments are a great source of data and purchasing behavior, which helps you understand what your market wants and optimize future offers.
What is travel agency software?
Travel agency software combines all the tools discussed above and more into a centralized, intuitive package that helps you execute your operational strategy. The software is designed to handle several business functions for you, including:
- Trip management
Quality travel agency software makes running a travel business much easier and allows you to connect with your customers. In addition to all-in-one platforms, you might choose to use separate software for each business function, depending on your needs.
When deciding which software to use, you’ll want to make sure that it not only includes all the functions you want, but that your chosen travel agency software includes quality of life features that make it seamless to use.
Whichever software you choose should have readily available support in case you have a question or something goes wrong. Otherwise, you could face delays in your business and lose customers.
A key feature of any operations management software is the ability to analyze performance. You should be able to store and draw conclusions from data on everything from ticket sales to customer payment preferences to most popular destinations so that you can refine your product.
As a travel agency, you’ll process a lot of customer data, including passports, credit card numbers, and addresses. That means it’s important for both you and your customers to be confident in your cybersecurity measures. Whichever software you choose needs to be compliant with the latest available data security standards.
You shouldn’t have to struggle to navigate your travel agency software. The easier it is to understand, the easier it will be to personalize the software to your company’s needs, and the easier it will be to train new hires.
API integrations are an absolutely essential feature of travel agency software. Having access to integrations means you can work with different types of travel providers, which increases the range of services you can offer customers. It also provides you with multiple options for the same service.
Carrying out an operational strategy is easier with a digital checklist app like Lumiform. Not only can you download and fill out forms to make sure processes are being followed, but you’ll automatically receive weekly and monthly reports on all your inspections. That makes it easier to pinpoint areas for optimization.