Why I believe an itinerary APP for travel agents is the way forward?
The title may sound bold and one may be tempted to dismiss it as an individual opinion opposed to a logical evaluation of current trends. However, through the course of this blog I intend to put up a compelling argument as to why an on-journey travel itinerary APP will be the go-to customer facing tool for travel agents and tour operators in the coming decade.
Let us explore how travel technology has evolved over the years
From the days of manual trip planning, where a travel agent would spend hours trying to issue a ticket and the only place to find hotel numbers was the yellow pages…..to now, where its all available at a press of a button, the travel industry has come a long way indeed. In the last 20 years, we have seen significant innovation in the booking stage of travel – from creation of airline GDS, OTAs, Mobile Apps for booking, DIY trip planner apps and the different innovations that have developed around them. Online distribution, whether B2B or B2C, gave rise to a host of new technologies – inventory management tools, digital payments, AI assisted bookings, meta aggregation, decentralized distribution through use of APIs. As more and more travel products went online, the support technologies to facilitate its respective distribution and consumption went up as well. While it did significantly improve buying experience for the traveller, on-journey travel experience remained unchanged.
Emergence of new age hybrid travel companies
In recent years, we have heard terms like omni-channel being used by tour operators– that speaks of distribution channels covering both offline and online mediums. In other words, many offline tour operators, over the course, decided to set up a strong online presence hoping to cash in on the trend. Static websites turned dynamic and dynamic turned into full-fledged OTAs.
Fast forward to 2019, OTAs were booming and many ringing the death knells of offline tour operators. They consistently lost market-share to their larger cousins but felt no pressure to change considering the size of the overall market kept increasing by a rate of 10-15% YOY and the growing demand from tier 2 and 3 cities.
Lead generation happened through a combination of direct purchases or digital marketing activities (SMO, Adwords etc) and availability of a large market made it relatively easy to generate new leads at reasonable prices.
However, with the increasing cost of digital mediums for lead generation coupled with the impact of COVID, has made it challenging for travel agents to acquire new customers.
On top of that, the impatient and exposed traveller wants more than the routine – be it in the form of recommendations, quick responses, on-ground support, travel guide, convenience so forth. COVID has made the world virtual and that would only accelerate adoption of digital technologies. However, travellers would still require help with travel plans and on-ground support to feel reassured
Thus, the emergence of a new-age hybrid travel agent. These agencies bring in the best of the old school human touch with the use of modern technology to augment their existing capabilities. They are the Tony Stark (Iron Man) of the travel world and use travel technology as their armour of choice
Augment your capabilities through a travel itinerary APP
I think you know where this is going and would recognize the importance of any technology that may help deliver a delightful customer experience. A travel itinerary APP is one such tool that makes it super easy to seamlessly manage communication and save time, while making things convenient for the end traveller.
Here’s how Travelexic’s travel itinerary app enables its partners i.e Tour and MICE operators to elevate the end customer experience, thereby increasing retention rates and bringing down the overall cost of acquisition:
The global trend of paperless travel begun a while back through travel apps such as Tripit pro and Tripcase. Tripit pro focused on business trips alone. They offered the business traveller – real time flight status alerts and convenient access to all their bookings in one place.
Today, we deliver a superior experience to a modern-day leisure traveller through the Travelexic travel itinerary app. The travel app replaces age old practice of carrying print outs of your confirmation emails, travel tickets etc. The traveller can view his/her detailed travel plans on his mobile. Furthermore, its fully dynamic and controlled by his travel agent
Align with the new normal:
The new normal will involve minimizing contact and self-scanning of E-boarding passes while flying.
Travelexics’ travel itinerary app enables seamless web check-in for easy issuance of Eboarding passes. Travelexic, much like Tripit pro before it, gives travellers easy access to their master itinerary and real time flight status alerts. The express hotel check-in functionality lets you manage all check-in formalities remotely.
Dedicated channel of communication:
Travel agents and tour operators have long struggled with maintaining an effective communication channel with the end traveller. Its either hard to track (divided between multiple mediums: whatsapp, email, sms), inefficient or outright broken once the travel ends.
A dedicated channel lets you (the travel experts) seamlessly communicate through trip planning and VISA processing. Also, engage the traveller while they are on journey. We even connect the traveller to his/her airline through real time flight status alerts.
Additionally, unlike other white-labelled travel apps for travel agents, we stay active post tour and Travelexic travel itinerary app can be used to engage the traveller post tour, push targeted notifications, and generate repeat business.
Other handy tools for travellers:
Travellers usually end up consulting multiple sources for information on weather, currency exchange rate, dos and dont’s, destination travel information etc. Travelexic’s itinerary app offers tools such as explore city offering nearby places to eat, shop and see along with travel recommendations.
Travel app also comes with a currency converter, intelligent weather forecast, digital briefcase, travel history, important contacts, feedback collection module. Embedded buttons to share anything from a payment link, custom forms etc.
Increase brand recall:
Having ‘top of the mind’ presence with your customer base can be infinitely beneficial for your business.
For one, the product association will ensure they always reach out to you when they require travel. Travelexic itinerary APP can be fully branded right down to the font and icon colours, background image and footer colour. We ensure it stays this way well after the tour.
Engagement during and post tour:
A Forbes article reported that customer centric companies were 60% more profitable compared to the one’s that weren’t. Travellers want to be attended to, guided, taken care off and feel valued. The social and economic value to delighting your customers is immense.
Travelexic agency web dashboard can be used to engage the traveller through a variety of notification types including text, video, image and actionable. In the pre-departure stage, the handlers may use this tool to upsell activities, forex and relevant travel related information such as VISA document pendency, VISA application status.
Post and during travel, notifications maybe pre-scheduled to deliver a delightful experience through daily activity reminders, day wise agenda, surprise updates and freebies.
A Harvard study suggests that people are 70% more likely to refer brands if they have a strong loyalty programme. Our travelCRM aka ‘Traveller 360’ coupled with the notification module in the travelexic travel itinerary APP can be leveraged to build your own loyalty programme.
Build your own ecosystem and focus on lifetime value:
The most successful businesses today have found a way of building an effective ecosystem around them. Travelexic lets you create an ecosystem around your business that can be used for cross selling, upselling and continual improvement through feedback.
Travelexic is available on the google play store and the apple app store. We are a free travel app for the end traveller and currently offer no in-APP purchases.
The app requires an internet connection for trip information, to receive real time communication/updates from the handler and flight status alerts. However, the itinerary and travel guide maybe accessed offline once itinerary has been fully downloaded.
We are very convenient for the end traveller and, unlike Tripit pro, one doesn’t require any action from the traveller.
The importance of having a travel itinerary APP has only grown since the industry was hit by COVID and getting the attention of your customer requires more than mere words. If anything, it requires commitment to the goal of being customer centric and no technology reflects that better than a travel itinerary app.