Given the rapid increase in online travel agencies (OTAs) in recent years, customers are spoilt for choice.
Besides, in the wake of the pandemic, customers are increasingly looking for safe travel options and the ability to go on “experiences” rather than trips to make up for all the time they lost in the last two years.
Now that customers value hyper-personalization and safety, OTAs must rethink how they service travelers, bringing ancillary sales into the picture.
Undoubtedly, ancillaries are an excellent way for travel companies to satiate their customers’ needs for curated experiences, bolster revenue, and stay ahead of the competition.
What are travel ancillaries?
An ancillary can be anything a traveler chooses to “add on” to their purchase other than the flight tickets themselves. These extra services make the trip comfortable, secure, and enjoyable.
Nowadays, travel insurance is a hot commodity in the ancillary space, as travelers don’t want to pay for flights they booked if they can’t make the trip due to covid or other illnesses. Travel insurance can even cover the loss of baggage, passport, or other valuables.
A few more ancillaries offered as a value add apart from tickets include visa, foreign exchange services, tour guides, sightseeing, etc.
What type of travel ancillaries should OTAs focus on?
• Airline ancillaries
Don’t restrict yourself to offering tickets to customers. Take your customer experience to the next level by providing seat upgrades, wireless internet access, in-flight meals, beverages, onboard entertainment, baggage check-in, excess baggage, priority check-in, screening, etc. When you do this, you do not just increase customer satisfaction and retention, but you also add massively to the revenue you generate per customer.
Travelers will also pay extra for the convenience of wheelchair assistance, airport lounge access, easy to access parking, transportation between various parts of the airport, etc.
Besides, travel agencies can generate revenue through services, such as passport validation, visa application, travel insurance, exchanging foreign currency, cabs to the airport, and even something as simple as an international mobile sim card.
• Car hires and transfers
Travelers, especially tourists, will be willing to pay for a car rental or two-wheeler to explore the place they are visiting. So, offering the same will go a long way in making your customers’ journey a fulfilling one and bolstering your revenue.
• Tour guides and on the ground services
If your customer has booked flights and a hotel through your travel agency, you can go the extra mile to make their trip worry-free and memorable by offering the services of a tour guide.
Given the increased focus on health and wellbeing nowadays, you can even offer calming spa and massage services as ancillaries, which will enrich the customer’s experience.
Also, several cities offer transit passes that you can provide to your customers, making it easier to explore the place via public transport.
• Loyalty programs
One of the surefire ways to make your customers feel special and bring in additional revenue is by offering loyalty programs, which extend privileges, such as priority boarding, business class upgrades, a free night at a fancy hotel upon staying for 4-5 days, free cancellation, guaranteed cashback, etc.
• Other travel-related products
Travel agencies also can cross-sell travel essentials in partnership with e-commerce sites. You can leverage artificial intelligence to gauge customer needs and smartly recommend things, like binoculars, trip memorabilia, etc.
Doing so will drastically enhance the customers’ trip experience and add to your revenue.
How AgencyAuto can help OTAs generate ancillary revenue
With the AgencyAuto online booking platform, travel companies can effortlessly sell ancillaries along with flights, hotels, and travel packages, ensuring that the revenue per customer is maximized.
Notably, the customers can get all their travel needs met in a single place because of AgencyAuto’s inventory management module, where travel agents can manage all the pricing and availabilities.
Besides, travel agents can offer retail and corporate customers promotions, such as one night free at a hotel, based on their loyalty or other criteria.
Due to the extensive API integrations possible with AgencyAuto, OTAs can provide ancillaries, such as insurance, airport lounge access, transfers, etc., via third-party suppliers.
Importantly, travel agencies can sell ancillaries via multiple sales channels, including b2b, b2c, corporate, and call centers. For all these booking channels, you can also set up business rules via a single interface and generate in-depth reports to gauge the performance of your business.
Now is the perfect time for travel agents to jump on the ancillary bandwagon, given that the ancillary market is projected to reach USD 216720 million by 2028. If travel agents capitalize on this massive opportunity, it will undoubtedly lead to a higher return on investment and customer satisfaction.
If you want to stay ahead of the competition by offering ancillaries to your customers, reach us at [email protected]