Owning and running a travel agency is no joke.
Trust me when I say this as we have interacted with a lot of agents and operators before coming up with the idea of Travel Genie.
Running a travel business can take over every aspect of your life as you need to be 24*7 online or on your phone co-ordinating with your agents/customers.
These are hard times facing the travel industry, as well as for those trying to make a breakthrough into this industry.
The traditional reasons as to why would you visit a travel agency are growing less and less year on year.
You would be asking yourself :
Why should I visit a tour operator when Google answers all my questions?
Why rely on some third party agency when I can conveniently get all details related to my destination, make bookings/accommodations online?
And believe me, You’re not wrong in asking these questions!
These are just a couple of questions you, as a traveller, will be asking.
And for the same reasons travel agents need to keep evolving to stay put!
Would you rather walk up to a tour operator’s office than make a booking online? The answer is a firm “NO”.
Travellers are getting smarter and so you need to be too!
Here are 5 biggest issues facing tour operators and travel agents.
1. More Choice
A lot of travel agents believe that the most important problem concerning them are tour operators rising out of nowhere.
You will agree :
More people are travelling today than at any point in human history. That being said, travellers today have more avenues to make a booking than ever before.
Customers do not fall short of options when it comes to researching and organising their trips.
With more deals, agencies and service offerings than you could consider, shopping for travel has become about running through the noise rather than discovering something veritable.
More choices lead to decreasing customer loyalty.
If you’re not offering something original and worth returning to, customers have no problem in moving away.
Because of the growth of online travel agents, another problem for travel agents will be staying ahead of the competition of the ever growing online travel sites.
Zac from Holiday Tours & Packages says, “Continuing to build trust in people that travel agents can help better than a computer can is the need of the hour”.
2. Price Transparency
Most of us are tech savvy and know our way round the internet. Google has helped us lead a very simplified life.
All you have to do is “SEARCH”!
That being said, travellers today are not naive. They know how to shop around and find the best deal.
Fooling them into paying over the odds when there are so many potential options out there is impossible.
With OTA’s blossoming, it has made an already competitive market more competitive, meaning that they will have to stand out in less obvious ways than just trying to overpower their competitors.
Agencies have no choice but to stay afloat and face the competition whilst offering better value for money services than their competitors.
3. Building Trust & Getting Noticed
We are the part of a competition intensive industry and building a brand is one of the most hard things to do.
Numerous small home based agencies or OTAs just entering the market don’t usually stand a chance among the handful of players who dominate that market segment.
We checked with a couple of agents and this is what one of them had to say :
“Our clients are loyal after they use our services because we get them a better value. We make them aware of destinations and activities they haven’t heard of, as well as room upgrades that may not be as high as they would’ve anticipated. We can tweak their vacation with options they never thought of. But they need to know we are here, so marketing is our biggest challenge.”
“The ability to go online has made people believe that they can embark on their journey on their own, not aware that they are loosing out on numerous offers by not going through us” – says another agent.
On the flip side :
Travellers are aware that there are a couple of OTAs with an invisibility cloak.
The hoodwinked traveller asks, “Ever tried contacting your OTA if your booking went haywire? OTAs should have a hotline to sort out problems, not disappear after they’ve taken your cash.”
Building a trust factor is of utmost importance in the online space. Travellers have numerous options available and they wouldn’t give it a second thought before moving on if they don’t like your services.
4. Travel Isn’t Mysterious Anymore
Gone are the days when you would walk down to your travel agent and ask for the details to an exotic location you would like to visit.
And why would you need to do that?
You’re getting all your answers online!
Consider this :
You are planning to travel to Dubai for the first time and don’t know where to start.
10-15 years ago you would have had no choice but to visit an agent and blindly believe what he says.
But now all you have to do is go online and search, and there it is! Boom! Thousands of results giving you all the details of places to visit, accommodations and much more.
What’s more is that you can get all your visa details online – right from applying for a visa to getting it delivered to your doorstep!
Companies offering travel services need to move on and offer something more insightful than the usual old generic information available on the internet.
Why else would you approach them, right ?!
Travellers now-a-days understand what they want and need a trip tailored to meet their expectations.
5. Continuous Adaptability & Mobile Optimised Solutions
Let’s get this out of the way :
If your agency doesn’t have a mobile solution, then you are loosing out on the competition.
The world is moving towards miniaturisation and mobile solutions are the need of the hour.
Majority of bookings in emerging markets happen on mobile devices , so your agency software needs to be able to keep up with that.
Some quick stats :
About 88% of people admit to shop more if their mobile device provides them with real time information.
Here’s one more, 63% of people are expected to shop more on mobile devices in the coming years.
Well, what does all this add up to?
If you aren’t able to deliver with your mobile solutions then you’re going to be loosing out on major chunk of sales.
Your agency should be able to deliver a smooth, stress-free, superlative experience via mobile.
All said and done! What can be done to keep up with the intense competition in the travel industry space?
Emerging markets pose both challenges and opportunities. In order to connect with them, you need to speak their language.
You have to localise your marketplace based on who is searching and from where.
Our Genie’s travel software ensures full language compatibility that you can use to get up close with your clients.
Travel Agents must also look to stay relevant year on year. They must try to do this by mailing their clients regularly, whether it be a regular mail offering for a cruise, all-inclusive vacations or just telling them something exciting that’s going on with their business.
Clients need to be regularly reminded that you’re there to assist them!
We live in world where every taste is catered to, be in within or outside the travel industry. This clearly means that you can use your niche to exploit any gap you think exists in the marketplace.
So there you have it – just a few challenges facing the travel industry at the moment.
But if you’re keen to start of with an agency, don’t hesitate – go all out, for many challenges can be turned head on to opportunities!
What’s encouraging is that the travel industry continues to grow, which means an ever growing consumer base for you to tap into.
It’s certainly true that the customer is more aware now and knows what he wants, but this only means that it has opened a door for tour operators to offer more specialised solutions to travellers keen on something precisely to their tastes.
We, at Travel Genie, are always there to cater to your agency needs.
Our unique management software will help you sky-rocket your sales and establish your travel agency as a major player in the travel industry space.
Do not hesitate to try the free demo and get in touch for further queries!
Finally, don’t forget to leave your thoughts below on any issues that you have faced whilst being a new player in the market.