It’s been a tough 18 months for our industry, hasn’t it?
Covid-19 has put huge pressure on travel agents and tour operators of all sizes. The next 18 months are going to be critical, and it’ll be essential that your sales productivity is at its peak.
Fortunately, there is a wide range of travel agent software that can help—even for traditional, brick-and-mortar travel agencies.
Managing your sales pipeline, reducing admin and improving the customer experience are all steps on the road to becoming more profitable. Let’s take a look at the different software used by travel agents and how it could transform your operations.
The different types of software for travel agencies
Customer relationship and marketing management system
It’s impossible to manage an effective sales pipeline without an appropriate CRM in place.
Your CRM will be at the heart of all your marketing and sales efforts. It will help you to generate more leads, make more sales and retain customers for future business. It will be a comprehensive record of all customer information and past sales, allowing your sales team to easily identify customer preferences, undiscovered deals and trends. A CRM will also offer customer and lead segmentation, allowing you to deliver tailored marketing messages to best suit that person’s interests.
Benefits of a CRM
- Gain a ‘single source of truth’ on all leads and customers, which can be used in the sales process as well as for marketing to those consumers.
- Use customer segmentation for creating tailored marketing materials based on the person’s interests and purchase history.
- Manage your sales pipeline in one place and easily monitor sales team performance. The ability to follow every enquiry, from their first contact through to making a booking, also significantly improves conversion. You’ll no longer have to worry about lost leads or missed opportunities due to a lack of organisation.
- Access to clear reports on marketing, sales and operations, as well as the ability to create your own.
- See big improvements in customer satisfaction thanks to quicker communication, marketing and offers that suit them, and a well-managed complaints process.
Online booking service
This is arguably the single most important travel agency software you need to invest in.
Although people do still book holidays the old fashioned way, particularly for cruise and tour sales, you’re going to be missing out on a huge amount of business if you don’t allow customers to book online.
This doesn’t just mean a website with a contact form. Your online booking service should allow the customer to browse, reserve and pay for their holiday without having to speak to a sales rep.
The most advanced software will even make suggestions for destinations and add-ons based on user behaviour analysis.
Benefits of an online booking service
- Avoid missing out on bookings from customers who want to plan their holiday without talking to a sales rep.
- Streamline the booking process and boost enquiry-to-sale conversion rate.
- Much less admin work required, with customers’ bookings being fed straight into your travel CRM.
- Online booking services can easily process multiple currencies and support different language requirements.
APIs between the online booking system and vendor websites ensure up-to-date information on pricing and availability.
Inventory management, reservation and tour building tools
We don’t need to tell you that tour building is by far the most time-consuming and complex part of a travel agent’s job.
It requires a clear understanding of what the customer is looking for, in-depth knowledge of what you can offer, and the booking, planning, scheduling and pricing of multiple travel products.
This is where your Central Reservation System (CRS) comes in.
Connecting to networks of travel service providers worldwide, a CRS allows a travel agency to access and manage vast inventories of flights, car hire services, hotels, resorts, activities and more—all from one place.
This travel portal enables an agent to build a tour much faster, and find the best deals for the customer.
Benefits of a CRS/travel portal
- Gain access to an enormous range of flights, hotels, car and bus services, activities and resorts from one place.
- Quickly build tour itineraries for customers, including for groups or corporate bookings.
- Find the best deals for the customer and identify options that meet their budget by easily comparing vendors.
- Offer multiple package options based on different prices and suppliers’ inventories, making it more likely to make a sale.
- Retain more satisfied customers thanks to the flexibility of the packages and tours you can offer.
Billing, invoicing and accounting software
Of all the software used by travel agents, this is probably the least exciting, but also one of the most vital.
Worrying about money is the last thing a holidaymaker wants to do. However, when travel agencies make mistakes in the billing process, it can lead to some very stressful situations. This is going to lead to complaints and a big drop in customer retention.
You need to manage all invoices and payments for multiple customers accurately. This might be built into your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, while reservation tools usually provide some accounting functionality. However, you might also need to integrate something like Xero.
Benefits of accounting software
- Reduce billing issues that have a major impact on customer satisfaction and retention.
- More easily ensure compliance with financial regulations and tax obligations.
- Keep track of all business assets, everything owned and what is owed.
Examples of travel agent software solutions
Looking for travel agent software but not sure where to start? Below are five of the best solutions around.
Suitable for both online and traditional travel agencies, Bookinglayer is one of the best reservation systems around. It allows the agent to manage activities, accommodation and more all in one place, while the customer portal enables the customer to view information about their booking.
CRM by Inspiretec
Yep, that’s us.
We have 25 years of industry experience and are trusted worldwide by customers and global travel brands alike.
Our CRM platform, tailored specifically to the travel sector, helps travel agencies to generate enquiries, close more bookings and excel at customer service. Find out more about how CRM by Inspiretec can work for you.
As we mentioned earlier, tour building is one of the most demanding aspects of the job. Tourwriter makes it much easier, with a drag-and-drop itinerary builder, automated supplier confirmations and custom reports.
Xero is one of the most reputable accounting software solutions around. Thanks to its integrations with third-party tourism apps and support of over 160 currencies, it’s ideal for the tourism industry.
Calculating travel agent commission can be complicated, especially in cases where it has to be shared between multiple agents. Fortunately, TravelWorks makes this easy to control, while the platform also boasts a wide range of other features, including reservation management, invoicing and accounting.
Considerations when choosing a travel agency platform
Are you sold on the need to invest in travel agent software? Well, there are still some considerations ahead of choosing which solutions are right for you.
Is there adequate tech support?
Before investing in any software, you need to ensure there’s help on hand when needed, whether that’s training on how to get the best out of the platform, or for when problems arise. Take a look at what times of day support is available and look for comprehensive FAQs or a knowledge base.
Does it have a user-friendly interface?
Not all of your agents will be tech-savvy. With this in mind, your travel agency software needs to be easy to use and speak to them in a language they’re familiar with.
Suits your business
Not all software used by travel agents is perfect for every business. Take advantage of free trials or freemium versions of products to check that they suit how your company operates.
There’s a comprehensive onboarding process
A detailed onboarding process is essential to ensure the successful adoption of a new software in your business. Without the proper training from the start, your agents won’t get the best from the platform and may not fully adopt it. Ask about whether or not a software provider includes this as part of the setup.
Travel agent software doesn’t just make life easier for you as a business but your customers too.
If you fail to invest in the right software solutions, your business will be left behind, so what are you waiting for? Get in touch with us today and find out how we can grow your travel agency.