As a travel agent, you may find that running your business and keeping your customers happy is a full-time endeavor. Do you want to run a successful business, provide excellent customer service, and still have some time for yourself? The key is to use new technologies to increase your efficiency, so that you can spend less time in the office, and more time with your family and friends – all while increasing revenues.
Here are four ways that travel agents can increase efficiency and manage their time more effectively:
1. Use a customer relationship management system (CRM)
A customer relationship management system (CRM) is a centralized system that manages all of your customer-related business activities. Most CRMs can be easily integrated with your current IT infrastructure.
One way a CRM can maximize your efficiency is through data processing. The system can store information about staff, clients, business partners, and bookings. Many CRMs enable you to search, view, and edit this information through a user-friendly interface. With a CRM, you no longer need to spend time trawling through files to find the information you need. In addition, it can automatically keep records up-to-date.
A CRM will facilitate customer service tasks, such as call handling for customer enquiries. According to Parature, 97% of consumers say that customer service is an important factor in choosing and remaining loyal to a brand. Streamlining the customer communication process will not only save you time, but it will also increase customer loyalty and satisfaction.
2. Work with a Global Distribution System (GDS)
If you want to find the best options and prices for your clients, a GDS is the way forward. A GDS is a reservation tool that allows travel agents to access travel data, shop for and compare travel options, and make bookings for customers. There are three main global distribution systems available – Travelport, Amadeus, and SABRE.
GDS platforms can save you huge amounts of time and effort. Without a GDS, the process of searching for travel options and completing bookings is complex and lengthy. In contrast, a GDS works in real time, allowing you to make almost instantaneous bookings for your customers. Your customers will appreciate this increased speed almost as much as you will.
3. Work with travel automation software
Manually processing basic tasks eats up a lot of valuable time. Many iterative processes, such as processing airline tickets, can be easily automated with the use of a travel ERP or other travel automation software. On an individual basis, the minutes spent processing each airline ticket might not seem like a lot. However, it can add up to hundreds of hours when you look at how many tickets are processed over a month.
Tasks that are easily automated by a travel ERP include:
- Billing and invoicing
- Client credit limit management
- Creating reports
- Tracking client profiles
- Making external bookings
4. Adopt advanced payment solutions
Worldwide, over 90% of hotel bookings are made online, and mobile travel bookings have grown by 1700% between 2011 and 2015. Accepting online and mobile payments is now a necessity for anyone in the travel industry, especially since there has been a significant rise in online and mobile payments in Africa.
If you want to accept numerous payment methods in a simple, efficient, and secure manner, you’ll need to adopt advanced payment solutions, which can be provided by a PCI DSS Level 1 payment service provider, like Direct Pay Online.
An ideal payment platform will enable you to:
· Process both B2C and B2B payments
The platform should allow you to accept payments from your customers, and also manage your ingoing and outgoing B2B payments. This includes transactions between your business and other service providers, such as hotels, travel agents, bookings engines, and more.
· Accept various payment methods and currencies
A comprehensive payment solution will support payment methods such as credit cards, ewallets, mobile money, and bank transfers. It should also allow you to manage your payments effortlessly, through one central platform, as opposed to using different systems for each payment type. It should also enable you to accept a wide variety of currencies, so you can seamlessly work with travelers from all over the world.
· Use email payment solutions for remote bookings with a phone agent
A payment solution that supports email transactions makes it easy for customers to book offline and pay later. Your phone agent can send a customer a secure link via email, and the customer can then pay at their own convenience. This is extremely beneficial, as your phone agents will no longer need to spend time processing customer payments over the phone, thereby increasing your business’ overall efficiency.
· Use a mobile payment app
This will enable you can accept credit card and mobile payments anywhere, at any time, through a mobile device. You no longer have to be tethered to your desk to handle client booking requests - you can even handle client booking requests from the comfort of your own home!
Save time by using new technologies to manage your travel business. By streamlining processes such as customer service, bookings, and payments, you can spend less time in the office and have a more enjoyable work-life balance.