Let’s face it: The travel industry is built on responding to disruption. Whether it’s inclement weather forcing cancellations of flights, hotel accommodations, or tours, or overbookings due to sudden spikes in demand, travel companies must be agile enough to handle these and other temporary breakdowns in calculated, efficient ways to retain customers and continue operations in as normal a way as possible.
While these are mainly customer-facing concerns, some of the most damaging disruptions stem from operational breakdowns where travel agents lack powerful enough booking engines and systems to adapt to sudden modifications in bookings or conditions. Unexpected disruptions aside, today’s travel agents should be leveraging integrated, intelligent travel booking systems to enhance productivity, increase transparency across the value chain, and position the best products and services for their customers.
But how exactly can travel agents benefit from deploying integrated travel booking systems? What value propositions do such systems provide in giving agents the responsiveness and agility necessary to compete in today’s global travel landscape? While these are important questions, it’s first perhaps more important to understand the fundamentals of a travel booking system and its importance in streamlining operational processes.
The Basics of A Travel Booking System
From a B2C standpoint, a travel booking system allows agents to provide enhanced levels of customer service to travelers through quick search response capabilities, closely tracked bookings and reservations, and simple payment platforms that provide multiple payment options. However, the true value proposition of a travel booking system for travel agents resides in the ability to allow agents to optimize offerings to travelers through enhanced operational processes relative to suppliers, distribution networks, and reseller networks.
An integrated travel booking system has two main functionalities for agents in optimizing operational processes:
- First, a travel booking system integrates all suppliers contracted by a certain agency into one place where agents can view, review, analyze, modify, and select the appropriate services in real-time based on the needs of customers.
- A travel booking engine provides agents with a variety of distribution channels for selling travel services, including its reseller network, B2C via the agency’s website, or via a B2B corporate setting.
These two primary functions provide travel agents with a larger window through which they can offer a wider array of products and services to a more diverse customer pool. This not only helps diversify an agency’s client base - which is a key driver in promoting growth as today’s travel industry becomes more and more fractured in terms of market segments - but it also allows agencies to expand their horizons in service of creating new partnerships with suppliers, distributors, and others major travel industry players.
Travel booking systems also help agents reduce errors in the booking process. By providing agents with enhanced visibility into current pricing, inventory, supplier states, and varied distribution channels, agents are better able to track and analyze bookings or reservation patterns across the value chain to determine the products and services of most interest to customers. In addition, errors can be easily corrected through user-centered interfaces where multiple players across the chain of custody can access, review, and modify offerings. These errors can then be reviewed and analyzed and real-time modifications can be made to ensure such errors do not repeat in the future.
Benefits of A Travel Booking System
Now that we understand the primary functions of a travel booking system and how agents can deploy them to combat errors and increase efficiency and productivity, we can examine a few of the concrete benefits agencies can experience by incorporating a travel booking system into their operational platform. For travel agents, a travel booking systems provides:
Price comparison and sorting. Agents can not only compare supplier prices in real-time based on a criteria of needs and desires, but they can also sort prices based on a number of parameters to reduce search times and increase productivity. The ability to sources prices quickly and accurately means agents can provide a higher level of customer service to travelers who demand speed and reliability from their agents.
Digital alerts and warnings. As we discussed earlier, disruptions are just part of the travel industry - however, that doesn’t mean disruptions have to dominate the travel industry. When errors or disruptions occurs, a travel booking engine generates and distributes email alerts and warning to agents who can access and troubleshoot problem areas in real-time to ensure the flow of products and services remain consistent.
Mapping and point of interest capabilities. Imagine an agent wants to source offerings for customers near a certain attraction or point of interest. Travel booking engines allow agents to search, source, and select products and services from suppliers based on location or proximity to major attractions, hotels, neighborhoods, or points of interest. This allows agents to provide customers with bookings specifically catered to their wants and needs.
Advanced reporting tools. You can’t truly understand where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been. As such, agents can’t gauge the potential of future offerings if they don’t understand the success of failure of past offerings. Travel booking systems offer agents a number of dynamic reporting templates based on specific definitions for enhanced insight into operational success and achievement. In addition, agents can extract comprehensive reports and data analysis based on selected sources.