Managing your tour operator software solution, like nearly all strategy solutions in the travel industry, is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Different companies of different sizes with different business and customer engagement goals require a variety of solutions that are aligned with their scale, potential for growth, resource availability, and market share. Simply put, you wouldn’t pick-up your child from school in a moving van, nor would you attempt to haul a large camper or recreational vehicle with a small sedan. In order to complete certain tasks properly, you need to utilize the tools and methodologies that will ensure success and make it easy for you to repeat that success in the future.
The choices tour operators have in selecting the proper software solutions is no different than deciding what kind of vehicle is best for any given situation. Cost, ease of integration with existing systems - ERP, Global Distribution Systems (GDS), and other optimized solutions - efficiency, agility, and the ability to collaborate with individuals across all points of the value chain are all factors to take into account when selecting a software solution - though, once again, the scale and degree of these factors varies heavily depending on the size of the company and its overall financial and customer-relation goals.
But with so many software solutions currently available or coming to market, it can be difficult to assess which solutions best suit your needs, or how tour operators can apply certain software applications to promote profitability and growth in today’s global travel industry. While scale and individuality are key drivers, here are 4 must-have features tour operators should consider when weighing booking and tour software solutions and strategies.
1). Easy Checkout
If there’s one thing standing between a tour operator and their customer, it’s the checkout structure. Think of it as the final hurdle travelers have to overcome - they’ve done the research on their destination, completed a comparative analysis between other tour operators or travel companies, and are ready to click ‘buy’ and complete their transaction. Making sure your software provides a clear, clean, and easy checkout process is a value proposition that cannot be understated, particularly when it comes to the multitude of payment and transaction options customers have at their disposal. A user-friendly checkout procedure can not only enhance your online reputation management (OPM) status, but it can significantly reduce the number of customer service calls your company fields from confused customers.
In addition, making sure your checkout process is responsive and mobile-friendly is critical in today’s travel sector given how many travelers research and book destinations on a variety of platforms from smartphones to tablets.
2). Look to the Cloud
In 2016, it’s astonishing how there are still travel companies who operate non-cloud-based software solutions, instead opting for less integrated and optimized solutions which can create functional silos for communication and collaboration across a company’s entire value chain. In fact, some argue cloud computing may already be losing its foothold as the industry standard with the next wave coming in the form of cognitive computing, but for now the ability to conduct business on the cloud platform is one of the most crucial drivers in choosing tour operator and booking software.
Think of it this way: Booking software is more or less the gateway to your entire company, without which the ability to function on a competitive level is severely diminished. Cloud-based tour operator software allows for the ease of updates and maintenance, but also provides enhanced agility and flexibility in real-time data reporting, integration with other software like ERP systems, data sharing, and communication. In addition, cloud-based tour operator software creates a centralized location where those within a travel company can access and foster collaborations based on widely accessible data points and metrics.
3). Pricing Flexibility
Money talks - it’s a cliche for a reason. And the capacity to easily adjust or alter pricing and packaging is a massive value proposition for tour operators who are more commonly reliant on spur of the moment discounts, deals, and special offers as a result of the rise of social media platforms and other forms of direct customer engagement. Seasonality, demand, and other factors also play into pricing flexibility, and tour operators need to choose software solutions that allow for the transparency and responsiveness necessary to adjust pricing and packaging as they see fit.
Along with pricing flexibility, the capability to alter or adjust packaging based on supply, season, or competition is also a key driver in the value of a particular tour operator software. Imagine a bout of severe weather has forced the closure of certain attractions or activities at a particular destination. The ability to quickly substitute or remove excursions with real-time visibility into how these modifications may be impacted by producer supply and customer demand is key in maintaining an efficient, streamlined value chain.
4). Integrated Social Elements
In today’s digitized, ever-connected world, you can’t underestimate or ignore the impact of social media platforms for travelers to connect, share, recommend, and evaluate travel companies, websites, or even entire destinations. As such, it’s more important than ever before to integrated your tour operator and booking software with these social elements to promote customer satisfaction and ensure your one-time traveler transforms into a repeat customer. Promoting travelers to review their experiences either on your website or one of your social media platforms via a follow-up email or other automated customer engagement application provides your company instant feedback with very low overhead in terms of the technology needed. This method of integrated social media interaction and automated customer nurturing can differentiate one tour operator from the next in an increasing competitive global marketplace.
Download our case study to find out more how our customer managed to control prices and inventory using AIDA, tour operator solution!