What is the secret to the survival of travel agencies?
According to the website, IBISworld.com, the industry of travel agencies has maintained annual growth of 3.3% in the last 5 years, generating employment for more than 238,000 people, involving more than 62,000 businesses, and with a total income in 2019 of 41 billion dollars. Not any industry can boast these numbers; travel continues to be a good business. Of course, this is no coincidence: travel agencies have needed to reinvent themselves after the rise of do-it-yourself websites, like expedia.com or priceline.com, where the consumer does a big part of the work that traditional travel agencies have done.
Even so, human contact remains one of the most esteemed values for its clients. According to the experts in technology for travel, Travelport Locomote, having a face-to-face relationship in order to understand the traveler’s needs and collaborate with him in planning and coordinating the trip has yet to be substituted by technology. Nor has the personal relationships that travel agencies establish with hotels, airlines, cruises, and other services involved in a trip. A proactive travel agent might call the general manager of the hotel a customer is staying in the night before to get him a room upgrade and have him looked after in a special and personalized way upon his arrival.
DCS plus, another group of experts in technology for travel, points out that the biggest challenge that travel agencies face is being able to count on IT platforms that allow the flexibility and agility to operate in real time: “Because so many business processes in today’s travel industry transact almost instantaneously, powerful booking engines, travel ERP systems, and automation software for repetitive processes are key drivers in helping agencies achieve the speed, transparency, and visibility necessary to compete with OTAs and other travel management companies.”
And given the huge volume of information that the industry operates, the lack of technology translates to investments in the millions. A recent study by eNett, specialists in payment solutions for the industry, shows that approximately 40% of travel agencies still liquidate and reconcile payments manually. This work, which is indispensable for the industry, adds up worldwide to 1.5 billion dollars in costs per year. Correct reconciliation of data is not only indispensable to have precise financial information, but also to guarantee the life cycle of transactions.
A common problem when reconciling information is having multiple sources of data that need to be compared, in order to identify the differences and work on investigating the exceptions. A powerful engine of transformation and data-mapping like Conciliac’s allows you to easily solve this problem. Incoming bills from different suppliers with various different file formats can be collected and compared with the internal IT system in a matter of seconds, allowing the data to be prepared for analysis. Once this data is standardized and ready, Conciliac offers a set of tools that allow complex rules to be defined, which are capable of processing a large volume of transactions in minutes and leave the exceptions clearly visible. The construction of one-to-many rules (where one record must coincide with the sum of several records from another source) can be done easily with Conciliac with the help of powerful graphics that guide the user step-by-step, making him an expert in a short time. Best of all, it is a non-invasive application, which does not require touching other existing internal and external systems. Nor does it require sophisticated computer equipment: Conciliac can be installed on analysts’ computers in most cases, and is usually implemented and working in a couple of days at the most. Conciliac has immensely helped many travel agencies improve processes such as commissions, reservations, payments to service providers, etc.
The challenges that the travel industry faces moving forward are not easy: it is vital for travel agencies to generate an impeccable customer service experience. And to do that, they must be able to be wholly dedicated to the customer, and leave the automatization of its processes to efficient and scalable technology like Conciliac.
Author: Conciliac Team
Nick Ostdick, “3 Business Process Challenges for Travel Agents”, 2016, dcs plus
Ross Fastuca, “The Travel Agency Industry: Past, Present and Future”, Travelport Locomote
“The True Cost of Payments”, 2016, eNett, redefining payments
“Travel Agencies Industry in the US – Market Research Report”, July 2019, IBISworld