Exploring the Nexus of Travel and Technology – Types and Components of Travel Software

How can different types of travel businesses create specializations by choosing the right components of technology?

The internet is rife with advice on why you should digitize your business. It is assumed that software is ubiquitous in today’s business world. However, for the fence-sitters who are yet to digitize their business, what is it that you need to know about travel technology and travel software that will assist you to make a well informed choice of continuing without technology or leveraging technology?

The first step is to understand the types of Travel Software that are being used, and by whom?

Injecting technology components into the basic technology platform or travel agency booking engine can give your agency the ability to create unique specializations.

How can different types of travel businesses create specializations by choosing the right components of technology?
Here’s how…

If you are an OTA or a Self-Service Booking provider, you will typically use an online B2C Portal or travel agency booking engine with the following basic components:

What should be your key differentiators while selecting your travel agency booking engine?

  1. Platform’s ability to quickly search the most relevant content
  2. Ability to window dress – launch offers and deals quickly and monetize them
  3. Automated management of multiple supplier contracts, policies, clauses, etc.
  4. A highly sophisticated BI (Business Intelligence) & Analytics system to understand your consumer behavior and market trends
  5. A robust CRM system and
  6. A good marketing/lead management portal

A Tour Operator essentially requires a B2C Portal or a tour operator booking engine and can also choose to take a B2B route, but your technology potion is little different from the OTA mix, you need a package builder.

What should be your major differentiators?

  1. A package builder that should enable your tour operator booking engine to manage package durations, categories and blackout dates
  2. A feedback and request based flow that will give your customers the option of negotiating and customizing tour itineraries
  3. Rates, offers and discounts management system
  4. Customer Relationship Management System and
  5. Most importantly, every enquiry counts – Workflow systems that let you track, how efficiently your business caters to customers who show interest

BI & analytics is important. However, you don’t need such heavy-duty systems used by OTAs.

If you are a DMC, you need a platform or travel software for DMCs that help you distribute your inventory to agencies across diverse markets and at the same time, helps you manage ground and last mile operations.

What should be your Key differentiators while short listing travel software for a DMC?

  1. Global distribution – Ability to create multi-market distribution networks
  2. Multi-lingual & Multi-currency booking support
  3. Capture all information pertaining to last mile operations
  4. Strong auto cancellation and cash flow management

You can literally, do without a BI system, and rely on your networking and online trend research abilities.

If you are a Consortia or a Host Agency, it is important for you to find the best travel consortia software to build your ecosystem of affiliates and agents, and help them establish their own brands.

What should be your Key differentiators while choosing the right travel consortia software?

  1. Strong supplier management capability to distribute benefits to each member agency
  2. Technology for quick onboarding of affiliate and member agencies for host agencies
  3. MIS and reporting – Closely monitor performance across affiliates and suppliers
  4. Making members grow: Easily enable members to create their own brand identity
  5. Inbuilt communication tools – member motivation and retention

As a Consolidator, the accuracy and competitiveness of your inventory, decide your success. Your consolidator travel software needs to go the extra mile to ensure that your content is accurate and aggregated from diverse sources. We live in the world of electronic distribution so having a highly preferment API that agencies can consume is a must.

What should be your Key Differentiators while selecting your consolidator travel software?

  1. Accuracy of the content – Automated content aggregation and standardization
  2. The Richness of your inventory – Multi-source inventory aggregation
  3. Preformatted APIs that other agencies can consume

If you are a Niche Travel Agency (MICE or Specialized travel service provider) the type of niche travel agency software that you should be using is:-

What are your Key differentiators that need to be kept in mind while selecting your niche travel agency software?

  1. Your own contracted and negotiated inventory of specials – themes, travel products, merchandise, etc.
  2. The ability to create a unique experience from booking to fulfillment
  3. Inventory management tools to store and manage special inventory
  4. Creating Offer pages and promotions

I hope you found the above information useful; this is a brief guide to help you find your way around the often complex and fragmented domain of travel technology.

To Use or Not to Use a Travel Agent?

This is a question that needs to be asked and answered. Like most things in life there are pros and cons. Here we briefly explore the question and the possible answer. Many have written that the professional travel agents days are numbered because of the proliferation of online travel booking options and the increasing ability and capability for online research.

Interestingly the successful travel agents have evolved from being simply booking people to travel consultants. They can now provide valuable advice. Online bookings are relatively simple to use but generally do not provide significant after-sales service should any aspect of the travel not follow the plan. This means that if you are visiting unfamiliar places along unfamiliar routes doing unfamiliar things, it makes a lot of sense to link with someone who you can talk with.

Here are some facts to consider:

Contrary to popular belief, travel agents will save you money some of the time, if the entire holiday cost is considered. They have access to exclusive deals from time to time and ta times have access to bulk buying. Generally, experts say that consumers get better value for money when buying through a travel agent. However, people with lots of free time and who are high flexibility in travel dates may get better deals online where there are “last-minute” needs to either fill a tour, a cruise or a holiday package.

Travel consultants will save you time. There is so much information available online and searching it takes time. They will have access to tools that help selecting and processing requests. Experts estimate that it takes 30 to 40 hours to fully research, plan and book a family trip online.

Travel agents often have special relationships with providers and vendors and can offer extras, like on-board credit on cruises or free breakfasts or free upgrade at hotels. In these cases the cost is the same as self-booking but the value is higher to most people.

Many travel agents enjoy preparing a complicated itinerary. However, some may charge a fee for the services – Check first.

Some will provide “inside information” on many aspects of your travel plans, like selecting accommodation, airlines with cheap stopovers, and tours with a special difference. The “inside information” is often quite valuable to the traveler.

They can assist with information on visa, vaccinations, travel insurance and other risk mitigation strategies.

In conclusion, the good travel consultant continues to thrive, even with the growth of online booking portals. If you are planning travel soon, consult a travel agent and see the difference.

Why Should You Not Travel Alone?

Travelling is a fun activity. We all love to travel. We travel various places in order to get away from our hasty and busy life. Everyone gets tired of the everyday monotonous life. We all travel to get pleasure and get refreshed. Travelling is essential to all. It helps in reducing the tension and makes people happy. People get new experience and knowledge from their travel. Some people love to travel in a group whereas some people love to travel alone. Travelling in a group gives us the feeling of safety and security. Travelling alone gives the feeling of freedom.

Mostly we don’t meet with the problem when we are in city areas. The problem starts arising as we start moving off route. No one can predict when the problem arrives. It comes when it wants. Problems may differ as per the places we go. The travel is uncertain it may or may not arise during the trip. So it is better to take precautions before travelling. We should always travel with your family, friends, colleagues, etc. We may not find a travel partner for our every journey. If travelling with a travel partner is not possible then it is better to travel along with a guide or search any other travel companion.

Travelling alone may create various problems like:

1. We can get attacked by the wild animals when we travel alone along the dense forest. If we travel in a group or with travel partner there is less chance of animal attacking us. In case if we get attacked there will be the companion to help us. But if we travel alone no one will be there for help. So it is better to travel with the travel companion.

2. We can get serious health problems like acute mountain sickness, HACE, HAPE, etc when we travel in the high altitude (when we go for trekking and mountain climbing).

3. We can get a serious injury that can lead us to death.

4. We can get stuck in some dangerous problems.

5. We may lose our way.

6. In some destinations, we can get kidnapped by the local rebellions as captive,

7. We can get robbed, etc.

8. Hospitals may not be available in the off routes minor health problems can become fatal. If there is no one to care about.

The movie 127 hours (based on the true story of Aron Lee Ralston) directed by Danny Boyle also insists the traveller not to travel alone. Aron is the survivor from a canyoneering accident. He fell into a crevice in southeastern Utah. His hand stuck in the boulder. He then tried to get his right hand out of it but couldn’t. With a dull pocketknife, he cut off his right forearm to free it from the boulder. He had been trapped there for five days and seven hours. He wouldn’t have to cut his forearm had he gone for the trek with a companion. So, we should always inform our family member and friends where we are travelling. We should always search a travel partner. It is the inspiring real-life story. Everyone should watch it.

Never ever travel alone.

What Is A Travel Agent, Tour Operator, Or Online Travel Agency?

Every great travel company has to determine what type of travel company they want to be. Below we discuss the different ways travel is sold and the associated business operation name/description.

1.) Tour Operator – Traditional company that contracts hotel rooms, transportation, and additional excursions/events for its guests. Tour operators market directly to their guests and allow travel agents to re-sell their tour packages for a commission. The tour operator is the vendor and the travel agent is the sales agent selling to the general public. Start-up capital needed – minimum $20,000.00

2. Traditional Travel Agency – A traditional travel agency arranges travel for their guests and re-sell tour operators products. An example of a travel agency business model is Liberty Travel They re-sell prearranged hotel and flight packages arranged by tour operators. Traditional travel agencies normally sell face-to-face with their clients, over the phone, or via email. Start-up capital needed – minimum $6,000.00

3. Online Travel Agency and/or OTA – These agencies are 100% online. They contract hotels directly or through a third party wholesaler. They then use a direct connection with the airlines to package flights and hotels together. Typically they offer a contact/call center to aid people booking online, however in most cases they book 75% of their business online. Examples of this model include Expedia.com, Booking.com & CheapCaribbean.com. These companies started very small and have grown to be massive companies, and seem to be the largest sale of travel related products worldwide. Start-up capital needed – minimum $100,000.00

4. Travel Affiliate Programs – This is the newest model, with the least amount of capital required to start, and zero direct customer interaction. Online travel agencies and tour operators pay affiliate websites to advertise their travel deals/specials and when a potential customer visits the affiliate travel website and clicks on an offer, the tour operator or online travel agency pays the travel affiliate between $0.10 – $4.00 for the “click” when a potential guest leaves the affiliate site to be taken to the tour operator or online travel agencies website. Some tour operators and online travel agencies offer up to 10% commission if a guest gets to their websites via an ad they clicked on located on your travel affiliate site and completes and pays for a reservation. Start-up costs – $0 – $4000.00

We’re not partial to one model over any other. However we should point out that the affiliate model is the best way for someone with limited resources, who wants no customer service liability, a simple (nearly hands off) approach, and the fastest way to earn money. If money is your motivator and you want to earn it quickly, the affiliate model is the way to go.

In our next articles we’ll talk about developing your travel business idea and which of the four models might work best for you.

Learn more at http://www.yourtravelstartup.com/travel-start-up-blog