Tourism is one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world and India in particular, with our country registering a record number of international tourists in the previous year and contributing a significant share to our revenue.
Travelers are more aware of their choices, are more price-sensitive and expect a more enhanced travel experience than before. The tour operators and travel agents are gearing up to meet this challenge and are involved in a cut-throat competition to provide better and more personalized service to effectively manage client expectations.
In a view such a scenario, one would think that investing in technology would be a priority for travel companies. But, shockingly, a majority of them still rely on traditional methods to manage their daily operations. This is equivalent to donning an invisibility cloak in the digital platform.
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Here are some of the key challenges that tour operators encounter at present:
1: Consumer Experience, Engagement and Retention:
Today, the entire travel agency business is about developing a close rapport and personal relationship with customers by personalizing their promotional activities and services. But, traditional avenues like email campaigns and websites can only go so far in building a loyal client base. Here’s where a strong social media strategy can help differentiate you from your competitors.
A PRSA Travel & Tourism poll found that 84% of the Facebook users stated that their travel plans were influenced by friends’ posts on that platform. A well-planned social media strategy coupled with a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform can help tour operators create content that matches the habits of and attracts their customer base. For example, a CRM platform like Kapture can help build a vast customer database to give fillip to email newsletter campaigns, while also ensuring they don’t end up in the spam folder of their customers.
2: Credibility and Responsiveness:
The credibility factor is one of the cornerstones of the travel industry. Manual methods of data entry in an Excel sheet, for instance, have higher probabilities of human error. Such errors can create mistrust and potentially lead to lost sales.
A study by Light speed Research, 62% of customers read reviews online and reviews increase visitor browsing time on travel sites between 50 and 100%. Moreover, the reviews must be present across all platforms because if they are present only on the company’s website, it raises doubts about the credibility of these reviews.
A survey by Industrial Performance Group Inc. showed that salespeople spend 23% of their time fixing mistakes, searching for information and giving information over the phone. Manually customizing a trip plan is time-consuming and salespeople end up spending more time on administrative tasks than directly helping customers plan their vacations.
A CRM system can help sales persons access customer history and prior interactions which can help understand the customer quickly. A robust CRM system like Kapture can generate quotes faster and help score over the competitors.
3: Mobile Adaptability:
Mobile adaptation in the travel industry is particularly high compared to other industries, with almost one-third of e-commerce transactions now being done on mobile phones, tablets and other handheld devices. According to a survey, 88% of people admit shopping more if they can access real-time information on their mobile devices.
Majority of the bookings in emerging markets also happen on mobile devices, so a travel agency needs to have a mobile-compatible software to keep up with this trend of miniaturization.
4: Optimized Booking Management:
Many tour operators still do not possess the proper tools for enhanced booking management, which hampers the efficiency and functionality across an agency’s entire value chain. The faster travel agents can return quality searches and complete bookings and the more responsive they are to disruptions, delays and cancellations, the greater will be their gain in terms of return sales from travellers and driving customer engagement.
Through increased booking management capabilities, travel agents can gain valuable insights into the purchase patterns behaviour of customers, which will help them modify their service offering accordingly to generate higher Return on Investment (ROI).
The above diagram explains the flow of a process which helps in booking management and creating an itinerary. A ready reference such as this makes the entire process simpler and more efficient.
5: Rising costs and competition:
The businesses of travel agents are becoming increasingly dominated solely by the pricing, where the competition has turned its focus towards offering cheap travel packages, which can possibly lead to cutbacks in the quality of travel experience. A Travel Management CRM software can help businesses manage the rising costs.
It allows you to estimate the expenditure fairly accurately and cut down on unnecessary expenses. This allows businesses to provide customized tour packages for each customer segment. It is also possible to automate the creation of individual customer invoices through a rate contracting system.
To summarize, a CRM System provides many advantages for travel agents and tour operators, such as better differentiation and targeting capabilities, marketing strategies support and improved communication.