Get out of comfort zone
Being placed at the centre of many of the world’s fastest growing markets, the development of large-scale tourism projects, the constant struggle for optimising corporate travel budgets and the evolving consumer behaviour of the millennial traveller, are some of the key trends that our region will need to tackle with.The travel agencies that are still under the impression that these shifting trends will not impact their comfort zone and they will carry on doing business as they have until now, will have to unlearn the traditional approach and take the leap of faith. A business strategy, oriented towards the connected traveller, must be the order of the day.
HOW BUSINESS AS USUAL LOOKS LIKE Your agents spend around 30 minutes to create the offer for a basic travel request from one of your customers. And when I say this, I’m considering the time involved in checking different suppliers’ websites to identify the best options, create the short list and customise the offer before pushing the send button. And we all know that occasionally the client’s answer will be “But how about this other alternative? How much is it?”.Add another 10 minutes to the process. Once the customer decides and the booking is confirmed, it needs to be processed in the back-office system. This step will take around 15 to 20 minutes per booking. If we take into account the entire cycle, 45 minutes is the average time an agent allocates from the moment he or she receives the request up to invoicing the service. At first glance it might seem reasonable. But let’s say that you have a monthly volume of 10,000 bookings. 45 minutes translates into approximately 7,500 hours of work done by more than 40 agents. And this example covers only a fraction of what happens in a travel agency on a daily basis. It goes beyond creating offers, issuing invoices and generating reports. You also need to configure profiles, remarks and business rules, import supplier invoices or different statements, track the receivables and the payables and do the reconciliation. Does it sound familiar? What if you can automate your operational workflow by at least 70%? And ensure a seamless quality control process at the same time. TECHNOLOGICAL BREAKTHROUGH Solving these issues has a direct impact on your bottom line. The high cost is caused mainly by the operational delays and inefficiencies as a direct result of the manual, repetitive, time consuming tasks and human errors. Efficiency is the answer and the main factor driving it is automation through reliable technology. If you are still debating whether it’s cost-effective or if it will make the difference for your business in the long-run, the quantifiable results will persuade you. Hundreds of thousands of euro yearly savings with workforce, improved customer experience, a high level of satisfaction for your team, real time access to relevant data to facilitate the decision- making process, and more time for focusing on growing your business. In an industry largely defined by experience, human interaction and fierce competition the pressure to differentiate while staying profitable has never been more crucial and the drive for innovation has never been more obvious. Bet on a travel technology with proven track record so you can work your way towards a new business reality defined by error-free efficiency and sophisticated automatic processes. And improve your bottom line along this journey. * The writer is dcs plus regional general manager for Middle East & Africa