At this stage in the game, most agents are probably using technology in their day-to-day, whether it’s staying in touch with their clients via mobile or bolstering their social media presence. As things move forward, it’s more important than ever for agents to utilize technology to their advantage (psst - we offer free tech audits to help with just that).
First, let’s talk about why you should care. When you employ the right technology, you can save both time and money and make room for what really matters: selling. The more time you spend working with clients, and the quicker you can get those clients a quote on their trip, the better your overall performance as an agent.
Travellers are information navigators, and they've gotten used to using tech in all their daily activities. They trust tech, and they like the convenience. As an agent, it’s important to offer a better booking experience for the traveller to make sure they come back to you, every single time. Automating parts of your booking flow both affords you time to build that trust and allows you to guarantee that you can bring up the best flight patterns every time.
There are a number of different forms of tech to consider, especially if you’re an independent agent.
One of the easiest ways to get organized in your business is to start using a CRM system. CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, and CRM systems help to automate these relationships by managing your contacts and your ongoing marketing campaigns while supporting sales management. There are a number of great CRMs (Travel Operations and Travel Contact are two options we really like)that o free versions of their software, and almost all CRMs are customizable to whatever level you need to automate your daily interactions.
Finding a software to help you automate your back office operations will save you a ton of time. This is especially important for small agencies or independent agents, as back office work is what consistently takes time away from working with travellers. Like CRM systems, back office software is frequently offered as a tiered system, so you can find a package that works for you and your specific needs. It’s important to note that if you’re a contractor working for a host agency, back office software is most likely already included. However, if you’re totally independent or a small business and you want to focus the majority of your time on arranging travel and booking flights, using either a CRM or a Back Office solution will free up some extra time. Sion is a great example of a back-end solution for agents - they make tracking your commission simple, giving you peace of mind and saving hours of your time while doing it.
Now that we’ve covered a few of the day-to-day operations, let’s talk about utilizing automation and machine learning in your booking flow. The travel tech market is growing, and as travellers turn to agents more and more (a trend we’ve covered here) it makes sense for agents to tailor their services to the needs of their clients. That means offering everything your customers can get online and more. There are several different types of automation that you can incorporate into your booking flow. There are booking systems that offer extra content, some of which easily plug into your existing software via API. This allows you to create packages in a more streamlined way, offering specific content for every traveller that you serve. There are also plug-ins that manage the payment process, and tools to track bookings and record your data. Finally, there are providers that automate the entire flight searching, sorting, and booking process, turning 20 minutes of diligent work into a 20 second process (we just happen to be one of those providers!)
Overall, taking advantage of available technologies can make a huge difference in the day-to-day operations of your travel business. Always find the technology that works best for you, and even if you work with a host agency, don’t be afraid to shop around. You know your customers best, so trust your instincts. If there are any options you want to learn more about, let us know! We’re always happy to help.