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Pandemic - an opportunity for the travel agency to reinvent their business model through digitization.

The covid pandemic forced the closure of countless travel agencies, tour operators, and travel management companies, as its effect echoed across the entire travel sector. The surviving travel companies are staring at huge losses and uncertainty over future revenue, thanks to the pandemic-induced paradigm shift in customer priorities and travel policies.

But all hope isn't lost.

Even as the travel restrictions started kicking in around two years ago, many travel agents began experimenting with varying degrees of digitization and met with great success.

From the success of those agencies and our expertise on the matter, we have compiled a list of reasons why you should also consider embracing digitization and completely reinvent your business model.

  • Harness the power of NDC

    By leveraging the New Distribution Capability from the IATA, travel agents can access new, rich, and creative content to provide travelers with tailor-made offers on their preferred channel.

    Notably, it also presents travel agents with the ability to put forward detailed information to passengers in the form of images & videos alongside dynamic pricing and specially negotiated/ bundled offers.

    Consequently, travel agents can sell more, bringing in optimal revenue from ancillaries as well.

  • Eliminate unproductive tasks

    With the power of digitization, your agency can get by even in the wake of the pandemic when you are short-staffed and low on funds. Robust technology, such as AI, can go a long way in eliminating tedious manual work, including creating offers, sending follow-up emails, providing customer support, etc.

    Using a machine learning-based CRM, you also have the option of handling all your inquiries from a single platform. In this way, customers can reach you from the channel of choice, and you can still respond effortlessly with little response time.

    Additionally, there are tools that will automatically notify your passengers about disrupted flights and keep you posted on which of them are yet to cancel/ rebook. With this information, you can reach them with a human agent and get them to cancel/ rebook, so they don't lose their money due to the travel disruption and end up blaming you for their poor experience.

  • Enhanced customer experience

    Nowadays, people no longer reach for a telephone directory to find a good travel agent or even search online. They may just be lounging on their couch and dreaming of a vacation when they command their virtual assistant (Alexa, Siri, etc.) to find them the cheapest possible flight to some place.

    If you digitize your travel agency's operations and ensure that you are reachable across all channels, you stand to gain thousands of potential customers.

    Self-service portals for your customers are another great way to boost customer experience during the pandemic. If you take the initiative to provide customers with a hassle-free portal/ site/ support line for self-service, you will end up with delighted customers.

    Through implementing digitization, you can even gather actionable insights on your customer interactions for making strategic business decisions or improving customer experience.

  • Cater to high yield corporates

    Using digital solutions for your travel agency, you have the option of offering corporates the ability to book business trips conveniently and cost-effectively. You can provide easy bookings via apps or an online site along with a great source of information to compare and get the best prices on flights, hotels, car rentals, etc.

    Another great benefit of implementing digitization is that you no longer have to deal manually with piles of invoices or expense reports. Customers, especially the corporate ones, will appreciate the quickness with which you can process payments, provide discounts, and ensure policy compliance and visibility with an automated expense management solution.

  • Cater to high yield corporates

    Imagine that your travel agency's operations are automated as much as possible. In that case, you can ensure that your employees are engaged only in productive, high-yielding tasks, such as closing huge deals, dealing with demanding customers on the phone, negotiating with vendors for lower prices, etc.

    For simple requests/ inquiries, you now have the option of quickly and cost-effectively handling the customer with an AI-powered chatbot or an updated knowledge base for their reference.

Conclusion

Innovation is critical in times of crisis, especially when it is as devastating as the current one; travel sellers need to adapt to the new situation and rethink their strategy for addressing customer's shifting concerns if they intend to emerge unscathed from the pandemic. By harnessing the power of digitization, travel agents can boost customer experience and consequently thrive in the coming years.  

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