If there’s one segment of the travel industry most impacted by trends or fads in today’s travel landscape, it’s tour operators. Because tours, activities, and other excursions can vary widely depending on location, supplier networks, and customer demand, the tour operator facet of the travel industry is a variant rich enterprise which can result in increasing complexity when it comes to sourcing products and services. Plus, the recent push for individualization, personalization, and unique tour and travel experiences means tour operators must deploy powerful software solutions to meet the needs of a fluctuating customer base that craves authenticity in how and where they travel.
As one can imagine, the drive for more intimate, specifically-tailored tours and activities and the growth of new and emerging markets across the globe - not to mention the continued fragmentation of the travel industry’s customer pool - means tour operators must work harder than ever before satisfy customers and grow their businesses.
In order to do this, tour operators must leverage software as a critical differentiator between themselves and their competitors.
As such, any effective tour operator software must contain a number of essential features to help operators break away from the pack and provide the highest quality products and services to their customers on a consistent basis.
Software as a difference maker
One of the most common complications for tour operators in today’s global travel industry is agility and responsiveness. Because so many tour operators function on antiquated business models that don’t account for hyper-local suppliers, products, or services, many operators are ill-equipped to respond to real-time shifts or modifications in the availability of tours, activities, or excursions.
For example, imagine a tour company that offers canoe trips along the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Interested customers can customize their canoe trip by adding on a variety of stops along the way - fishing, hiking, camping, and more. This allows customers to personalize their tour experience and provides the tour company with a fast, efficient, and accurate way to increase sales and profits without much overhead.
Now imagine a second tour company that offers high-end tours of significant cultural sites in Paris. These tours are curated through creating customer profiles based on needs and interests with an aim to engage customers in a personally curated way that is both memorable and meets their expectations. These customer profiles can suggest such activities as walking tours, winery visits, and even dining opportunities based on location, time of day, and other factors.
As you can see with both of these examples, tour operator software that is both agile and responsive is critical for our hypothetical tour companies to function at optimal levels. These tour companies have leveraged local and expertise knowledge with responsive technology to identify travel trends and deploy offers and packages that meet the needs and desires of the modern traveler. In this way, the right technology or software solution is perhaps one of the most significant advantages a tour company can leverage against competition.
Features of tour operator software
In such a crowded, connected industry, it can be easy for tour operators to simply assume their competitor’s travel software is identical to their own. With so many travel software suppliers in the market, this is not an entirely erroneous assumption. Yet even with so many options for travel software, there are a number of features and elements tour operators should be mindful of when deciding to work with given vendor or supplier. Some of these features include:
Individualization and customization: The ability of that tour company to combine a host of other services with that initial service is critical in increasing revenue and enhancing a customer’s travel experience, which can turn a one-time customer into a lasting business relationship. The ability of that tour company to customize bookings to a specific traveler’s needs via integrated, agile software is a critical value proposition for that tour company in staying one step ahead of the competition, which may very well be relying on antiquated software incapable of integrating multiple services or bookings.
Flexibility and scalability: The travel industry is unpredictable. Trends can be hard to pinpoint and disruptions are a part of doing business. As such, tour operator software must flexible enough to mirror industry changes and responsiveness enough to account for unforeseen modifications or shifts without resulting in major disruptions. Because the travel industry can change on a dime, tour operator software must have enough built-in scalability for tour companies to grow their supplier networks, manage inventory and products distribution without needed to holistically alter their existing software platforms.
Transformational elements: Remember back five years ago. Does the travel industry resemble what it looks like today? What are the odds the industry will look anything like it does now five or ten years into the future? Tour operators need software solutions with transformational elements to meet the needs of today’s market, but more important of tomorrow’s market. Product and service modeling to make well-informed sales and marketing decisions. Customized customer alerts driven by automation to keep travelers informed of cancellations, delays, or alterations in bookings. Advanced data and reporting to help tour companies evaluate performance and create accurate sales and marketing plans for future growth.
These are critical functions tour operators must consider when selecting and implementing software solutions to foster productivity and efficiency across all touch points of their value chain.