A century ago, a day like this, all a computer could do was book a flight for a client and keep that in records. Fast forward to present day and technology has opened doors to so much development in how things are in the travel agencies…unbelievable!
See also: Evolution of GDS (Global Distribution System)
Technology can improve everything we do, or make it much, much harder. It can be the travel agent’s best friend or make things ridiculously frustrating. With most package travel plans and cruises still booked through an agency, the impact of technology is felt on a daily basis. Not to mention (but we will) the use of the Internet by travelers, which has both a positive and a negative impact on travel agencies.
The high-speed Internet allows for fast communication with all of an agency’s travel partners, so booking a trip takes just minutes, not hours. Productivity is increased, customer satisfaction is improved, and partners receive reservations fast, so they can plan their staffing accordingly.
The downside of high-speed Internet is that customers are now acting as their own travel agents. Internet booking engines can do pricing comparisons in a matter of seconds, and travel plans for surrounding dates and locations can be checked quickly.
One additional challenge travel agencies now face is that some customers will do their research online first, then come book with an agent. Being able to address this modern-day consumer, requires some skill to recognize the existing knowledge of your customer and still enhance it all while completing their reservation. People love having an expert help sort out the complexities of multiple stops and multiple modes of transportation. It became imperative for traditional travel agencies to modify and alter their strategies in order to adapt and survive in the changing markets. The modern-day e-Commerce driven environment helps them enhance their personalization, content, and efficiency. More than half of the travel agents believe that despite all its problems, technology has actually proved to be a boon since it helps to influence the personal touch and manage travel transactions.
Despite constant pressure from third parties and direct vendors having more access to the modern day traveler, travel agency business is neither dead nor in the state of dying. In fact, travel agents are still responsible for almost 77% of the total cruise bookings, 55% of air travel bookings and 73% of travel package bookings. According to travel agents, the growth and advancements in technology have helped to enhance communication, convenience, productivity, the speed of business and marketing.
One of the biggest changes that technology seems to have induced is that travel agents can now keep in touch with their clientele using a variety of mediums (mobile devices are a must) at all times. Accessing all of the venues, airlines, hotels, etc. quickly, at any time, gets your customer the trip of their dreams and on their way.
See also: The Story behind Travelport Mobile Agent, a great mobile app dedicated to Travel Agents
Technology will always evolve, but the most successful travel agencies will be the ones that evolve along with it, instead of feeling forced out. The rise of the machine in the early 20th century left many feeling like they would be forced out of work, but as we now know, this was not the case. The same is true of technology – it should not be feared, but rather taken out for a drink and a negotiation meeting.