The boom in bookings done once again through travel agencies means many agencies are developing business plans to ensure they grow properly. Within those plans are software solutions that will help ensure the agency can be more efficient and have a better online presence to capture that new traffic. To accomplish this, there are two directions an agency can go, either develop the software on its own or purchase software from a third party. But which of those two options makes the most sense?
It can be a difficult choice deciding what’s best when it comes to acquiring software for travel agencies. Developing your own software can be an advantage when the tasks the program will accomplish are unique to your agency and the program will be the perfect solution for your needs.
If you have someone in your agency who can develop what you need, you can also save money that you would otherwise have to pay to a contractor. On the flip side, outsourcing software development is common and for many, it makes perfect sense, as the knowledge of how to develop software is not easy to acquire and programmers are in high demand.
But, there are often issues with software configurations and interactions with other programs that arise, making it more difficult to operate sometimes. Technology for travel agents should both work properly and make sense for your business. Many agencies have tried to be successful at developing their own programs, but they ended up not succeeding in their efforts. This is true of both programs contracted to another party to develop as well as programs developed in-house.
When it comes to third-party software that has already been developed, it’s easy to know how it works and what it can do for you. Reviews online can guide you when making your buying decisions. You can also easily find out how each program will interact with other programs, so you can both anticipate software conflicts and compatibility obstacles. Case in point – 83% of travel agents worldwide use GDS software solutions because they are effective and dynamic, meeting the current and future needs of travel agents who want to have a social media presence, web capability, mobile access, and overall ability to grow and react to new trends in the future. Agents know how GDS works and what it can do, making it extraordinarily popular.
Mobile software is another aspect of travel interfaces and it will no doubt continue to grow. It is unique unto itself in that it has to be easy to use, adaptable to hundreds of mobile devices and operating system versions, and accessible around the world. Specialised software developers are able to create these mobile apps and websites, and while you might be able to employ such a person who can develop these for you as well as do other things, it can be difficult to find someone with that kind of knowledge base. Plus, he or she will not come cheap.
It’s not just the customer-facing programs that you need, however. Programs like ProTAS help travel agencies with all of the administrative aspects of running their businesses. These programs are designed to help your agency with the financial, back-of-house matters, combining several programs into one to make things more efficient than having an accounting program, a customer database, and an office management program, for instance. You won’t have to try to copy and paste data from one program to another, and you won’t have to spend valuable payroll on this duplication. And, you’ll know your customer information is accurate and stored properly. (ProCon Solution)
When it comes to time to boost your travel agency online presence, you can deploy a social media campaign to reach your customers and interact with potential new customers. Or, you can purchase a program to utilize your customer data to develop new promotions and invite customers to special events based on their habits or create customer loyalty programs for frequent travelers that are targeted to their unique needs. This also lets you take advantage of low-cost carriers on the GDS, which many travelers are opting for these days. You can capture some of that business courtesy of software solutions that have been developed for travel agents specifically.
Third party solutions will often have an integration option that you can either add on or install if it already came as part of your initial buy. Third-party software companies will also help you along the way when you need support or help using your program, something that can be harder to find when you have the program developed. There may be some support provided for a limited amount of time, but it’s usually not a long-term possibility without a separate contract.
Another program you need, and you almost need it to be intuitive to speed up your booking capabilities, is your booking software. Trying to develop your own programs that will work on both desktop and mobile devices can be tricky, and combining web and GDS programs adds another layer of complexity. That’s why obtaining your software from another company will help you reduce the chance of errors as well as ensure that your office solutions are fully integrated.
A pre-developed software suite can improve your customers’ experience, thanks to being able to be seamlessly deployed across all of your platforms, and give your booking process a standard format. Your customers will also know that they can check and change their reservations easily and see those changes in real time.
Yet another component is the size of your business. Whether you have a call center as well as a web solution and physical offices, or you are a small business with only a web option, you need to have reliable software that will not cost you valuable time as well as money. And, the software has to be scalable. This is something that can be written for you and adapted as your business grows, or you can purchase a suite that will expand with you over time.
In the end, the best return on investment you can get is from third-party solutions. You can rest assured that you know how it will work, as it has already been tested before hitting the market. You can also be confident that programs you buy will mesh with your existing programs ahead of time. Also, with existing third-party programs, you can get an analysis done easily on the program to find out what the overall cost versus benefits will be. Though there is nothing wrong with developing your own program which you can be sure will fit your specific travel agency software needs, there is always the risk that it won’t be compatible with other programs you already have or need to use. Trust the experts who do this for a living to help you be the expert at what you do.