As with so many industries in today’s interconnected, global economy, data and analytics are core drivers in leveraging growth, productivity, efficiency, and profitability. A company’s ability to gather, interpret, analyze, and act on data sets is more than a value-added proposition in a complex marketplace network of suppliers, retailers, and customers; rather, using reporting as a way to create actionable business plans is a necessity for long-term, sustainable success. This is perhaps no more true than with travel agents who are consistently required to work with more visibility, transparency, and agility in order to reach as wide as consumer base as possible.
Through advanced metric and reporting platforms like Big Data, advanced analytics, and automation software, travel agents can now more than ever before gain a fundamental understanding as to how every interaction in the buying process impacts each touch point in the value chain. Reporting and data analysis also offer a window into the needs, desires, and requirements of travelers, which travel agents can then use to best position products and services in a competitive field of travel companies.
With this mind, let’s examine some of the most influential benefits of reporting for travel agents and how agents can use these elements to enhance operational and customer-facing tasks.
Sales, pricing, and inventory management
The travel industry is, at heart, a customer-facing business. Suppliers, travel agents, tour operators, and other major players are all working toward providing the traveler with the highest quality product or service that meets as many of a customer’s needs as possible. Robust, accurate data reporting and analysis can enable more precise forecasting or modeling in order to meet the demands of a growing travel marketplace. The ability to track, monitor, and report on rates, inventory, and other variables provides travel agents with a greater level of responsiveness in adapting to cancellations, delays, or other disruptions in the travel booking process. In an industry with such volatile market conditions, data analysis and reporting provides travel agents maneuverability to alter rates, inventory, or special offers in real-time to meet the market’s most current needs.
If the name of the game in the travel industry is conversion, then marketing analytics (combined with a travel agent’s technology platforms) provides agents the avenue to invest in in marketing programs with a greater chance of customer conversion and revenue generation. For example, if a travel agent can gather from data and reporting sets that a targeted customer pool is more likely to complete a booking to a certain destination during a specific season, the agent can then tailor products, services, and offers accordingly to enhance conversion and reach and retain a larger segment of travelers. Data analysis and reporting give agents more power in making sure travel bookings don’t simply languish in a virtual shopping cart or become abandoned bookings entirely.
As we just discussed, data analytics and reporting are key indicators in driving conversion and reducing instances of abandoned bookings. Robust, accurate reporting practices provide agents with a valuable window into who is visiting or engaging with an online platform, when, for how long, and for what purpose. Using this data and reporting, travel agents can engage in or create user personalization practices, customer profiles, and multi-channel marketing campaigns designed to put the right products in front of the right customer at the right time. As the travel industry becomes more reliant upon online capability, mobile capacity, and other methods of connectivity, data and reporting are crucial to cutting the complexity of a constantly shifting business landscape.
For travel agents, an accurate, detailed portrait of a customer base is critical in capturing, retaining, and satisfying that customer base in the short and long-term. Data analysis and reporting provide travel agents the ability to operate with a deeper understanding of their targeted demographics and customer base. This allows agents to provide more effective customer-facing actions based on behavior, differentiating factors between customer pools, and reward values. This level of customer transparency should be a top priority in today’s travel industry as customer pools continue to fragment and become more dependent upon niche interests like culinary travel, experiential travel, and more.