Exploring the Nexus of Travel and Technology – Types and Components of Travel Software

How can different types of travel businesses create specializations by choosing the right components of technology?

The internet is rife with advice on why you should digitize your business. It is assumed that software is ubiquitous in today’s business world. However, for the fence-sitters who are yet to digitize their business, what is it that you need to know about travel technology and travel software that will assist you to make a well informed choice of continuing without technology or leveraging technology?

The first step is to understand the types of Travel Software that are being used, and by whom?

Injecting technology components into the basic technology platform or travel agency booking engine can give your agency the ability to create unique specializations.

How can different types of travel businesses create specializations by choosing the right components of technology?
Here’s how…

If you are an OTA or a Self-Service Booking provider, you will typically use an online B2C Portal or travel agency booking engine with the following basic components:

What should be your key differentiators while selecting your travel agency booking engine?

  1. Platform’s ability to quickly search the most relevant content
  2. Ability to window dress – launch offers and deals quickly and monetize them
  3. Automated management of multiple supplier contracts, policies, clauses, etc.
  4. A highly sophisticated BI (Business Intelligence) & Analytics system to understand your consumer behavior and market trends
  5. A robust CRM system and
  6. A good marketing/lead management portal

A Tour Operator essentially requires a B2C Portal or a tour operator booking engine and can also choose to take a B2B route, but your technology potion is little different from the OTA mix, you need a package builder.

What should be your major differentiators?

  1. A package builder that should enable your tour operator booking engine to manage package durations, categories and blackout dates
  2. A feedback and request based flow that will give your customers the option of negotiating and customizing tour itineraries
  3. Rates, offers and discounts management system
  4. Customer Relationship Management System and
  5. Most importantly, every enquiry counts – Workflow systems that let you track, how efficiently your business caters to customers who show interest

BI & analytics is important. However, you don’t need such heavy-duty systems used by OTAs.

If you are a DMC, you need a platform or travel software for DMCs that help you distribute your inventory to agencies across diverse markets and at the same time, helps you manage ground and last mile operations.

What should be your Key differentiators while short listing travel software for a DMC?

  1. Global distribution – Ability to create multi-market distribution networks
  2. Multi-lingual & Multi-currency booking support
  3. Capture all information pertaining to last mile operations
  4. Strong auto cancellation and cash flow management

You can literally, do without a BI system, and rely on your networking and online trend research abilities.

If you are a Consortia or a Host Agency, it is important for you to find the best travel consortia software to build your ecosystem of affiliates and agents, and help them establish their own brands.

What should be your Key differentiators while choosing the right travel consortia software?

  1. Strong supplier management capability to distribute benefits to each member agency
  2. Technology for quick onboarding of affiliate and member agencies for host agencies
  3. MIS and reporting – Closely monitor performance across affiliates and suppliers
  4. Making members grow: Easily enable members to create their own brand identity
  5. Inbuilt communication tools – member motivation and retention

As a Consolidator, the accuracy and competitiveness of your inventory, decide your success. Your consolidator travel software needs to go the extra mile to ensure that your content is accurate and aggregated from diverse sources. We live in the world of electronic distribution so having a highly preferment API that agencies can consume is a must.

What should be your Key Differentiators while selecting your consolidator travel software?

  1. Accuracy of the content – Automated content aggregation and standardization
  2. The Richness of your inventory – Multi-source inventory aggregation
  3. Preformatted APIs that other agencies can consume

If you are a Niche Travel Agency (MICE or Specialized travel service provider) the type of niche travel agency software that you should be using is:-

What are your Key differentiators that need to be kept in mind while selecting your niche travel agency software?

  1. Your own contracted and negotiated inventory of specials – themes, travel products, merchandise, etc.
  2. The ability to create a unique experience from booking to fulfillment
  3. Inventory management tools to store and manage special inventory
  4. Creating Offer pages and promotions

I hope you found the above information useful; this is a brief guide to help you find your way around the often complex and fragmented domain of travel technology.

Personal Travel Concierge and Their Role on All Inclusive Travel Deals

One of the best things about traveling these days is because it has become more convenient than ever. When it comes to all inclusive travel deals, you can do practically everything with the click of a mouse. It has even become possible for you to see the photos of the places you’ll visit, or the hotel room where you will stay. Technology has made it so efficient that one would think that it could easily be done without the aid of humans. This is where most people are wrong. It is true that technology has made traveling efficient, but humans still play a big role on it. Think of the role of humans as project managers, and the technology, the suppliers.

This mutual dependence of humans and technology has also paved the way for the rise of Personal Travel Concierges, whose role is indispensable in the travel industry. If we are looking for people to organize travel plans on behalf of travelers, a constant line of communication must be present. This ensures that everything will go as planned. The list that follows identifies and highlights the roles of personal travel concierges.

Personal travel concierges walk you through the different permutations of your travel plans. Of course, the main objective is to arrive at an arrangement that maximizes the traveler’s budget and time during the travel, but more often than not, vacationers have specific preferences, and the travel concierge makes sure that these expectations are met.

In case of emergency, personal travel concierges sees to it that this is easily resolved. Missing luggage, lost passport, or even a missing party member could be solved by personal travel concierges. If not, they can at least get in touch with the right people who can help you solve the emergency.

Unlike traditional concierges or travel agents, a personal travel concierge is assigned to a limited number of travelers. The implication of this is that they are more likely to focus on your needs, and the possibility of oversight is lessened. They are at your beck and call from the moment you book your trip up to the time that your trip is over, or even until after that.

In a nutshell, the assumption that we are already as close as we can get to the day when humans will totally be replaced by computers is very erroneous. The existence of personal travel concierges on all inclusive travel deals, or any travel deal for that matter, is a manifestation of that.

Work Less and Travel More

For any number of reasons people, and perhaps yourself, believe international travel is expensive. This is a common misconception. Never forget, travel can be as cheap or as expensive as you want to make it. The cheaper you make it the longer you can stay away. Cheap doesn’t have to mean nasty and constantly skimping on things, another misconception.

Pause for a moment and conjure up images in your mind of where in the world would you rather be right now. Then think to yourself what is stopping you from going there. At this point most people will say money, money is stopping me, not having enough, bills to pay, etc. What is really stopping you is you. Your decisions or your excuses.

Excuses are the primary reason none of us achieve what we are capable of.

Sure you can’t just up and go right now because of money, bills and commitments you may have but if you start planning now, re adjusting your priorities, habits, spending now and make a commitment to yourself, your dreams can and will become reality. Just set a date say twelve months from now and draw up a simple plan that will guide you financially and that will help you to remain focused upon your goal. Planning and sticking to the plan is the key. So many people don’t do this, then they wonder why or make excuses as why they failed. Without sticking to a plan you will lose your way, your focus will slip as will your savings and your dream to travel will remain exactly that.

The following is a quick outline of some travel tips on how you may structure your plan.

Take control of your spending – Sounds obvious enough, but how? Work out exactly how much you spend on everything, rent, bills, food, insurances etc. Hopefully it is less than you earn for the remainder you must put aside for your trip.

Now that you know where all your money is going (sometimes this can be a shock) it’s time to see where you can make some spending adjustments that won’t impact too much on your life style. In other words stop buying crap you don’t really need to get by like new cloths, DVDs, computer games, TV’s or whatever. Remember the more you save now, the more you will have for travelling which means you can stay away longer or live it up more when on the road.

You must make your upcoming travels your priority. Until you do, you won’t save enough, you won’t make the necessary adjustments to your spending, and you won’t make it to the airport. Make it a priority, because like I said your travels will open your eyes and change your life.

Set a date and stick to it – Again obvious enough but many people make their goals a moving target then wonder why they don’t reach them. Fix a date that will be appropriate to your financial situation and then stick to it. Write it down and stick it on your fridge or something. This way you see it every day and in turn helps to keep you motivated and focused.

Don’t leave it to the last minute to book your flight. The longer you leave it the more expensive it will get. If you can, book at least six to eight months out from your set date of departure.

Make a list of things you must do before departure – By this I mean financial cut backs you can make, bills that will need to be paid up and maybe even closed depending on how long you intend to travel. Mail redirects, notify bank of your travel plans, copy your travel documents etc (these things are covered later)

Make a list of things to buy/pack – Obvious this one I know though a good packing list will prevent you from loading yourself up with stuff you don’t need or maybe only use once. The lighter you travel the easier it will be. Revise this packing list so as you can cut back to the bare essentials. Think of the part of the world you are visiting and then pack accordingly. Common sense should tell you what to pack and what not to.

Begin planning your trip – Write out a list of places/countries you must see, must do experiences and how much time roughly to spend at each. A short term traveller will likely plan out the entire trip to the day and pre book. A long term backpacker will not need to be so exact with their travel plans as time is not such an issue and their travels will generally evolve as they go.

Stay focused – Read up about your destination. Not only does this give you some vital information it will also help keep you focused and excited about your upcoming adventure and do not leave buying all your travel gear till the last minute. Not only could you forget something, though you should not if you made a list, actually seeing your new travel gear building up gets you pumped up for hitting the road, which in turn helps keep you focused and on target.

The hardest part is often making the decision to jet off on a long overseas adventure, the second hardest part is keeping your resolve, sticking to the plan, being strict on yourself with your spending, doing the extra overtime (if available) for the extra holiday money and possibly as it was for me, throwing in a well paid job that I actually did not mind doing. But guess what… it was worth it. That seven months of travel changed my life and to top it off within a week of my return home to Australia I got my old job back and so I started saving all over again.

Most decisions have their risks attached to them. They seem daunting to begin with and they feed your doubts, though never let the concerns of money stop you from either going or worry about not having much, if any cash left after when you get back for it is your travels that lay before you, here and now that matter and who knows what opportunities await you both on your travels and beyond all thanks to taking a risk and embarking on an awesome holiday.

Remember, the biggest risk in life is not taking a risk.

The following would have to be one of my favourite travel related quotes:

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step – Confucius

I look forward to sharing more travel tips with you in future articles