The travel industry has undergone major changes in the past few years. While change happens in every sector over time, the change in travel industry was mostly due to the introduction of the Internet and the development of technology in the past few years and the transformation was quite rapid, to say the least. So, what changed in the recent past?
If you have been traveling for long you might have noticed the rising convenience in terms of planning and conducting any travel, be it in a group or as an individual, for business or leisure. The introduction of the Internet and the availability of information with just a few clicks have completely revolutionized the way tour operators and travel agents function.
How did traveling planning and organization change?
When was the last time you went to to make all the arrangements for your upcoming trip? You have probably relied on your travel agent to make all the planning. However, if you are a part of the current generation of tech-savvy individuals, there is a high probability that you simply accessed a tour reservation system to make all the bookings and plan your entire trip. Paying online is fast, easy, secure and in many cases, cheaper than actually paying for the tickets in person.
The introduction of the tour reservation system happened not too long ago. Websites started coming up all across the globe that offers various attractive packages and deals. Most of these websites also offer special discounted rates for hotel bookings all across the globe.
Thus, the tour reservation system has effectively transformed into tour management software where you can plan your travel and find the best rates, all at the same time. In the case of cancellation as well the tour management software works wonder. It makes the process of cancellation easy and hassles free. There are websites that also return the entire amount spent on booking if the cancellation is done well in advance.
The ease of use and the affordability of the Internet led to a revolution in the tours and travel management industry with new players emerging wielding the power of information technology. The use of mobile applications have increased greatly in the past couple of years, and various travel planning and booking apps have made it easier for individuals to access the travel and accommodation database along with special discounted rates for booking through the apps. This trend changed the entire picture bringing in competitors from unknown waters.
Statistically speaking travel agents and tour managers have faced a decline in their business with the introduction of Internet-based applications both on web and mobile. Data from last 20 years show a decline of 50% in the number of booking happening through the travel agents and tour operators. The graph has witnessed a sharper decline in the past 5 years. This certainly seems like doom for the travel agents and tour operators.
Are travel agents and tour operators outdated?
A valid question that comes to mind is that whether travel agency has lost its importance. Is being a travel agent or tour operator simply signing up for a career option that is soon going to perish?
Well, while a part of statistics certainly points towards such a future, another survey offers much hope. Even today 70% of the total travelers opt for tour operators and travel agents. The major reason is the personalized approach and human intervention. While the system has indeed become smart, there is nothing yet that can replace human interaction and intervention.
Typing in a discount code will only get you as much discount, but when it comes to making special arrangements and requesting special rates, it is the human intervention that triumphs over the system. Even in the day of mobile applications and websites, most of the regular travelers want to have their very own travel agent to look after their needs and requirements. There are always those extra benefits every person wishes to receive that a mobile application will not be able to top guarantee.
Future steps for travel agents and tour operators
Even though the statistics do provide some home for the travel agents and tour operators, it is important for them to upgrade as well. Today people want convenience and if they do not receive it from your service they are going to opt for a different one.
Automated system specially meant for tour operators and travel agents is the key to the future. If you do not want your clients to log in to one of the tour management systems you will need to log in to one and develop one for yourself too. Tying up with airlines and hotel chains is no big deal. If you are able to ensure fulfillment of special requests through a call, why not incorporate it into your application as well?