Travel Agent Software Needs to Keep Pace

Travel Agent Software Needs to Keep Pace

Technology has changed the way the world interacts and selling travel is no exception. The travel agent software available today has automated and customized the entire booking process while providing comprehensive and innovative solutions for travel agents to serve their customers better. There are solutions available today for travel agents that will make the entire shopping and booking process quicker and easier for themselves as well as for their customers.

For example, currently planning and booking a cruise can be a long process and generally involves multiple online and offline steps. It starts with online research which may involve cruise line websites, cruise reviews, online travel companies and social media applications. Many of today’s consumers shopping for a cruise seek advice from friends and family before they visit and/or talk to a traditional travel agent or call a cruise line representative. And online is no longer limited to using a desktop or laptop with many initial cruise searches were conducted on mobile devices. Integrating the online and offline research, shopping and booking experience is critical since many consumers will switch between various devices as they research and eventually purchase products.

The challenge is to integrate consumer online planning and research with the offline expertise of a traditional travel agent. One way to accomplish this goal is for the travel agency to deploy an online booking engine. This may sound counter intuitive for traditional agents who want to keep the booking offline, but allowing the consumer to plan online with an agency sponsored booking tool may represent one of the most important ways to integrate online and offline activity and capture the customer’s business.

Travel agent software must be easily integrated with the entire process and provide consistency in the shopping experience. Applications should have the most up to date availability and pricing along with detailed descriptions with pictures & images to assist both agents and consumers during the research, shopping and booking process. And for those looking to expand their reach into new markets, the ideal solution must also provide for localization of language, currency and market requirements.

Easy to use travel agent software should be built in a way that automates processes and reduces the amount of time it takes to make a booking. Many are designed to be so easy to use that they require minimal training and can have agents selling quickly. The application should be easy to use and contain the relevant information that a travel professional needs to research the options available. For example, finding the right hotel based on an individual customer’s specific needs is an important part of planning any trip, but can be overwhelming with so many options available. To help simplify the process and select the right hotel for a client, many hotel booking engines integrate links to media files & rich content to assist during the shopping process.

Finding travel agent software with the right combination of options for your business can be a critical decision. Finding a technology partner that will help you reach today’s mobile consumer where and how they shop for travel can be just as important.

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Travel Technology Needs Integration Capabilities

Travel Technology Needs Integration Capabilities

Customer Loyalty programs, new distribution technology and strategic alliances are all playing a significant role in today’s competitive marketplace. Loyalty programs have been used by the travel and tourism industry for years and remain an important marketing tool for Suppliers to attract and retain their best repeat customers. These programs have become an integral part of many the marketing plan for many businesses and can drive consumer behavior significantly.

With VIP special discounts and travel benefits being some of the most popular rewards offered by many industries, travel technology solutions that seamlessly integrate with company loyalty program can be a great benefit and good way to ensure your customers receive the best deals possible. Lucrative discount offers as well as value add offers loyal consumers have earned can be seamlessly integrated into their travel booking. Loyalty program integration with an online booking engine can come in the form of gift cards, travel rewards, discounts or even actual merchandise with the integration being seamless to the end user and relatively quick to set up.

Businesses have been quick to learn that moving sales to E-commerce saves them time and money. Online sales are typically the most cost effective way to serve customers today and innovative new technology helps software solution providers design and develop flexible & fully scalable applications that easily grow with any size business. As the use of mobile devices has exploded over the past few years, easy to use mobile ready solutions have become an important extension of any online retailer. Airline reservations were the first to gain popularity with online booking solutions, so it makes sense that an air mobile app is quickly becoming an important selling tool in today’s mobile society. These state of the art air mobile apps use all the powerful administrative features that an online booking engine has to offer combined with the ease and mobility of a smart phone.

And with the price competitive marketplace that exists today, Supplier availability and fares can fluctuate by the minute. Airfare wars, last minute hotel room discounts or free cabin upgrades on cruises can all change the offer. Travel technology solutions that leverage the live connections large Global Distribution Systems (GDS) like Amadeus, Sabre or Travelport have with airlines are able to provide the latest fare availability and complete an airline booking in real time.

Travel technology solutions must provide the ability to easily control business rules such as price adjustments, value add offers or targeted promotions. The flexibility to control business rules a variety of ways can be critical, so here is where you want to make sure the application has the flexibility you’ll need. For example price adjustments should have the flexibility to be calculated as a fixed dollar amount ($) -or- a percentage (%) of the fare and apply to certain sales channels or affiliate groups. Business Rules should be easy to define and include filters for a specific suppliers, or product.

As competing for customers becomes increasingly competitive, travel technology solutions should include features like loyalty program integration, mobile ready applications and secure, live connections to supplier content. Finding an online booking engine with the right combination of options for your business can be a critical decision. Finding a technology partner that will help you reach today’s mobile consumer where and how they shop for travel can be just as important.

Time To Upgrade Your Flight Reservation System

Time To Upgrade Your Flight Reservation System

It is no secret that just about every industry has been focusing more resources on e-commerce solutions as more people rely on the internet for just about everything. However many travel companies have had their own, unique challenges developing and enhancing their flight reservation system. Some are still using solutions built with legacy technology and are unable to easily add new content or make simple changes to their User Interface. The architecture used by these legacy systems is not at all as advanced or flexible as that of today’s distributed and layered applications. Many legacy systems hardcode business policies using inflexible, predefined process flows. This makes any integration with customer relationship management systems and Internet-based business applications difficult and sometimes simply impossible. And if falling behind from a technical standpoint isn’t bad enough, it has become increasingly difficult for companies to find developers who want to maintain applications written in languages that are not widely used in today’s technology.

The internet revolution is usually a key driving force behind a company’s decision to switch away from a legacy system. E-commerce sales can save a business time and money making it the most cost effective method for many to deliver products to customers. The “state of the art” technology available today can help a software solution provider design and develop a flight reservation system that is flexible & fully scalable. Some can even provide the ability to customize the application to maintain a company’s own unique brand identity.

Experience has shown that some of the best software solutions are the result of collaboration. Software Developers, Suppliers and Users can all provide valuable input to help design and develop the ultimate travel booking engine. Each of these entities play an important role in the process and any flight reservation system should meet each of their individual needs. To serve today’s growing number of consumers who use their mobile device to purchase travel products as well as those that switch between devices during the research and booking process, many companies are building applications that use responsive technology. Now, regardless of the type of device a customer uses to access a website, online applications built using responsive technology can automatically adjust the screen layout based on the type of device being used. And for those looking to have a dedicated Mobile App, there are several companies designing and developing custom mobile Apps. Some offer mobile applications as an optional “add-on” to an existing Booking Engine while others develop the Apps independently. Either approach can provide the online consumer the ease and mobility of using their smart phone or tablet. Mobile technology is not just for big brand names either.

Travel technology companies can now provide any size travel agency affordable applications built on the latest technology with the powerful tools to they need to compete with any size travel business. Finding a flight reservation system with the right combination of options for your travel business can be a critical decision. Finding a technology partner that will help you reach today’s mobile consumer where and how they shop for travel can be just as important.

Hotels Transform To Capture Millennial Travelers

Hotels Transform To Capture Millennial Travelers

The population born between the early 1980s and 1990s, referred to as the millennial generation, now represent a significant percentage of leisure travelers. This generation grew up in a digital world and use their mobile devices for just about everything. They prefer to spend most of their discretionary dollars on experiences as oppose to owning material products. They search for relevant information on social media while researching options and look for customized, memorable experiences which they are willing to pay for. The emergence of home-sharing and new formats of hospitality have added a new dimension to the way this generation travels. These are all factors that Suppliers are considering when evaluating ways to attract today’s consumer to their hotel and something to consider when choosing a hotel booking engine for your business.

The hotel industry has undergone a transformation as iconic brands and new trendy boutique hotels try and compete for today’s traveler. Hotel properties have been upgrading their guest experience to meet this demand with contemporary room designs, new public spaces and modern amenities. Just about every aspect of a hotel property is being scrutinized today, whether that be the colors used, the lighting or just overall aesthetics. New technology is being deployed to address the entire guest experience including the research, reservation and check-in processes as well as intuitive in-room technology and post stay follow up.

And hotels are not the only place technology is constantly being upgraded to serve today’s traveler. To serve the growing number of consumers using their mobile device to purchase travel products today, many sellers of travel are building mobile ready booking engines. So, no matter what type of device a customer uses to access a travel website, applications are available that can automatically adjust the screen size and layout to fit the type of device being used. The internet has become such a valuable and convenient resource to research just about anything and travel is no exception. Recent trends indicate that many travelers start their research using their mobile device, so having a mobile ready hotel booking engine can be critical.

Establishing a connection with the consumer and being part of their entire experiential journey can ensure alternative options don’t build an emotional connection with them better. Make sure your hotel booking engine has the information and tools they’ll need during the research and shopping process. Have detailed descriptions of the hotel along with pictures and information like nearby attractions, access to public transportation and restaurants. Travel businesses have been quick to learn that moving sales to E-commerce saves them time and money. An online booking engine is typically the most cost-effective way to serve customers today and the innovative technology available helps software solution providers design and develop flexible & fully scalable applications that easily grow with any size business. Some even provide the ability to customize the application to maintain a company’s own unique brand identity.

Finding a hotel booking engine with the right combination of options for your business can be a critical decision. Finding a technology partner that will help you reach today’s mobile consumer where and how they shop for travel can be just as important.

Travel Booking Solutions Should Be Integrated Online and Offline

Travel Booking Solutions Should Be Integrated Online and Offline

Whether consumers book their travel arrangements online or simply start their research there, today’s travel related business needs to be ready to assist them throughout the entire process. And all signs indicate consumer use of smartphones will continue to increase as more people are constantly connected to social media, so finding travel booking solutions with mobile technology is becoming increasingly important.

Integrating the online and offline research, shopping and booking experience is critical since many consumers will switch between various devices as they research and eventually purchase products online. Mobile devices enable consumers to be online anywhere at any time, allowing today’s consumer to start their research using their smartphone and then switch to a tablet or laptop to complete their purchase. While others may choose to start their research and shopping online before calling their travel agent to confirm their cruise booking. Regardless of the how a consumer ultimately makes their travel purchase, travel booking solutions need to integrate the online and offline process, provide the consumer with up to date availability and pricing and include detailed descriptions with pictures & images to assist during the research, shopping and booking process.

Applications should be easy to use and reduce the amount of time required to complete a transaction. The best travel booking solutions are flexible and easily customized to support each client’s own brand identity or unique selling style. While some technology providers may host the application, the header, footer as well as the look and feel should all be easily customizable to provide a seamless online experience. Multiple selling channels should be easily managed using a single application and designed to quickly set up additional users and affiliated websites. Whether your customer books directly with a travel agent (B2B) -or- they prefer to shop and book online (B2C), your Booking Engine needs the ability to service them quickly and easily.

Many travel booking solutions are built using secure, scalable online booking platforms that are designed to meet the demands of suppliers, traditional or online travel agencies as well as consumers. And with the pace at which fares or schedules can change, real-time connectivity with suppliers can help you ensure that the most accurate and up to the minute schedule, availability and pricing are provided. Business management tools can help provide you the controls needed to easily manage your business. Revenue Management tools include the ability to mark up or mark down a product’s selling price and even the ability to search multiple provider content sources for the best price. Display biasing capabilities and the ability to highlight value-add offers in the availability display can give your business full control of what your customers are presented. Robust reporting tools are also available that allow for quick and easy business tracking.

Finding a travel booking solution with the right combination of options for your business can be a critical decision. Finding a technology partner that will help you reach today’s mobile consumer where and how they shop for travel can be just as important.

The Right Booking Engine Makes Selling Cruises Easier

The Right Booking Engine Makes Selling Cruises Easier

It’s no secret that online bookings for cruise vacations have lagged behind other areas of the travel industry, but this has been changing as the overall population becomes more comfortable and, in some cases, totally dependent on using technology. The online revolution has changed the way consumers research and shop for everything and cruise vacations are no exception. Whether consumers book their cruise online or simply start their research there, today’s business needs to be ready to assist them throughout the entire process or risk losing them to a competitor. And all signs indicate consumer use of smart phones will continue to increase as more people are constantly connected to social media, making mobile technology increasingly important.

Deploying the right technology is an essential decision point for travel agency owners. Some of their agents may prefer to use an interface provided by the cruise line, while others may prefer third party tools that provide a single platform for multiple cruise lines. It is essential that an agency owner deploy a cruise booking engine that facilitates the maximum efficiency for User’s booking experience, whether this be a consumer booking online or a professional travel agent.

This includes unique selling features like Agent-friendly features such as a Single Sign-On to the Agent home Page. Live access to cruise line pricing and availability ensure the most accurate information is provided. A cruise booking engine should have rich content such as cabin photos and descriptions integrated throughout the selling process to assist travel agents and consumers alike in selecting the right cabin. The ability to easily compare sailings during the shopping process and provide cabin upgrade options at cabin selection are other features to look for.

Agency post booking management functions should include easy access to a customer’s receipt, so an agent can view and send booking details, print a copy or apply payments. The ability to send a booking related Email allows Agents to communicate with the customer using existing email templates as well as custom text. Tools that cross check a booking with a Supplier can be a valuable in identifying and correcting discrepancies while a Clone Booking function allows the Agent to search the same itinerary for a new booking creating time-efficiency.

Many travel agencies will require a cruise booking engine with backend integration to their CRM and accounting systems to avoid manual retyping of information. Integration with CRM technology can also help streamline the processes, by understanding the customer requirements especially for repeat cruise customers. Some travel agency managers also require administration tools to track the performance of their agents. Flexible tools that can quickly define business rules to adjust a product selling price or promote a special offer are critically important to remain competitive. The ability to bias the availability screen to preferred suppliers can also be a valuable tool and part of a comprehensive third-party cruise booking engine.

Finding a cruise booking engine with the right combination of options for your business can be a critical decision. Finding a technology partner that will help you reach today’s mobile consumer where and how they shop for travel can be just as important.

Cruise Booking Software Is Essential for Online & Offline Sales

Cruise Booking Software - Essential for Online Offline Sales

In today’s connected world, the truth is that the majority of consumers spend hours researching and planning their cruise vacation online using a variety of different devices before completing the transaction. A majority of today’s younger generation cruise passengers, commonly known as “Millennials”, will actually shop and complete their purchase online, while others may start their research online but defer to a travel agent or cruise line sales representative to complete the booking.

Clearly, there is an opportunity to integrate consumer online research tools with the offline expertise of a professional travel agent. With mobile devices enabling consumers to be online anywhere at any time, today’s travel companies require technology that integrates online cruise research with both online and offline booking capability. Researching, planning and booking a cruise vacation is often a long process and frequently involves multiple online and offline steps. The need to merge consumer online and off-line shopping activity has made having online cruise booking software more critical than ever.

Online research may include interaction with a cruise line’s website, reading cruise line reviews or using social media to check with friends. When planning a cruise, for example, many shoppers will seek advice from friends or family, visit a traditional travel agent, or call a cruise line directly. The challenge many travel professionals face is integrating a consumer online planning and research with the offline expertise of a traditional travel agent. One way to start working towards this goal would be the deployment of an online cruise booking tool. This may sound counter intuitive to those traditional agents who want remain relevant and keep cruise booking offline, but allowing the consumer to plan online with an agency’s cruise booking software may represent one of the most important ways to integrate online and offline activity.

Today’s cruise booking engine also needs to include a vast amount cruise line, cruise ship and cabin descriptions linked to media files & rich content such as cabin photos, ship images and deck plans to assist in the shopping process. Live access to Cruise Line content is important to be sure customers and agents alike are provided the most up to date availability and pricing. And for those consumers who prefer to use a Smart Phone or Tablet, any solution should be built using innovative responsive technology that automatically adjusts the layout of the display based on the type of device being used.

Cruise booking software must allow you to easily control business rules such as price adjustments, value add offers and targeted promotions. You’ll need the flexibility to control your business rules a variety of ways, so here is where you need be sure the application has the flexibility you need. Price adjustments should be easy to define with the ability to define filters for a specific cruise line, ship or cabin class. With cruise fares and availability changing so frequently it can be impossible for the most experienced travel agent to keep up with the latest deals. A flexible and easy to use Business Rules feature can help them manage.

Finding cruise booking software that has the functionality and content you need is an important decision for your business. Finding the right technology partner to assist you in reaching your customers where they shop can be even more important.