20 minutes may not sound like a lot of time. It’s a quick lunch or a long shower, but it doesn’t seem like enough time to worry about how efficiently it’s been spent. But multiply that 20 minutes five thousand times and you begin to see the way that best use of 20 minutes compounded over a month or a year can turn into real time and real money. If a small travel agency spends 20 minutes manually processing each of the 5,000 airline tickets it sells in a month, that 20 minute process takes up nearly 2,000 hours worth of work—the work of several employees.
Even in today’s increasingly digitized travel industry, this is still all too common of a scenario, especially for smaller travel agencies or travel companies. Yes, it’s true these tasks are important and a large part of a travel agency’s operations. Of course, tickets need to be processed—just as travel policies need to be enforced, invoices need to be managed, and 3rd party bookings need to be recorded. Just because these tasks are crucial, however, does not mean that they still need to be done by hand. Agencies utilizing a travel ERP solution ought to be able to automate these processes and many others, thereby saving time and money while freeing up employees to focus on providing value and completing more useful tasks.
It goes without saying that in today’s fast-paced, global travel industry, the ability to conserve time, resources, and personnel is key to leveraging a competitive advantage in a crowded field. With this in mind, here are 5 common processes travel agencies can automate using a travel ERP system.
- 3rd Party Bookings. Rather than depending on human intervention for tracking bookings that have been made using 3rd party systems, an effective ERP system can automatically process these external bookings and integrate them with your larger database of bookings. Since travel ERP software is already aimed at helping integrate different types of information (bookings, for instance) from different sources, this is a key area where manual workflows can be made obsolete.
- Customer Profiles. When it comes to corporate clients, there can be a lot of information to keep track of. Data about travel policies, service fees, and discounts need to be made available to anyone attempting to work with a given client, or else the resulting transactions will be chaotic, slow, and inefficient. Luckily, a travel ERP system can automatically track corporate policies and other relevant information in order to create a unique client profile that users can refer to as needed. The value added in cases like these can be significant, as having automatically tracked information so readily available can have a positive impact on many different workflows.
- Invoicing. Invoicing is yet another area where travel ERP process automation can help to prevent the delays and inefficiencies caused by manual workflows. By automatically culling information from a series of connected databases, it is possible to generate and process invoices with virtually no need for human intervention. Not only can this add value, but it can also reduce the possibility of human errors, as users will at most need to check invoices for correctness.
- Reports and Alerts. One of the most time consuming activities that a mid-office worker can undertake is creating reports. In order to present information about key performance indicators in a useful and readable way, it is necessary not just to access and digest large amounts of data, but also to fuss with formatting and visuals—all of which could instead be done by ERP software. Not only that, but travel ERP software can send e-mail alerts on its own, freeing up travel agencies to expend their resources in more meaningful and creative ways.
- Credit Limit Management. If an agency’s corporate clients have credit limits that need to be monitored, sophisticated ERP software can not only monitor that credit limit, but can integrate credit monitoring with other areas like billing, invoicing, and enforcing travel policies. In this way, ERP software can add tremendous value by creating new workflows that promote automation as a means to integration. Yes, automatic credit limit management will directly save man-hours and therefore money—but it can also make the work that cannot be automated more efficient, enabling users to go about their daily tasks with a renewed sense of the impact that their work can have for their agency.
In the past, much of the work done by travel agencies had to been done painstakingly by hand. Not only did the old way of doing things take considerable time and resources, it also left agencies open to the consequences of human error. And while much of the work done by modern agencies requires the flexibility and creativity of a live person, that doesn’t mean that no new efficiencies can be found.
By adopting travel ERP software, agencies can begin to automate processes like invoicing, credit limit management, and reporting—helping to work toward a new business reality defined by error-free efficiency and sophisticated automatic workflows. Any agency wondering how to get the most out of travel ERP software should consider this type of process automation to be a significant value proposition.