The travel landscape has become much more complex over recent years. Today’s traveler is becoming increasingly demanding – they seek more choice, personalization, flexibility and connectivity than ever before. And it means that travel agents must constantly demonstrate the added value they offer as well as provide excellent customer service. So how should they go about it?
The typical traveler of 2016 – whether they travel for leisure or business – wants the ability to self-serve and manage their own bookings, which means that mobile technology and apps are becoming increasingly important. As such, one third of the bookings in major countries around the world are now coming from mobile devices and in app bookings took off last year, accounting for 35-40% of mobile bookings. This means that today’s travelers are super connected, including during their trip, with 46% valuing free in-room Wi-Fi as a must-have amenity. Before a trip, travelers tend to base their plans on online reviews and rankings and, after a trip, they will probably share their experience online, including on social media. A total of 42% of stories that were shared to Facebook users’ timelines in 2012 were travel experiences, making it the top story being shared by users . There are also currently a staggering 200+ million reviews written across the internet.
On the face of it, therefore, the travel agency could seem slightly redundant! Or perhaps not. It may seem increasingly difficult to pinpoint a unique selling point for your travel agency in the face of such overwhelming statistics, but travel agents can still add value for their customers by providing a ‘personal touch’. Something that should never be underestimated and will always be relevant. Great advice from an experienced and trusted agent can prove to be far more valuable than an anonymous comment on a travel review site. And this is why it’s so important for agencies to invest in their people.
When you combine this personal touch with the broadest possible choice in travel content and smart tools that empower agents to sell that content more effectively, it becomes a winning combination. It means an agent can recommend a flight at the right time, a hotel in the right spot with great amenities and the right ground transportation to get there. And it’s why Travelport continues to invest so heavily in providing that unrivaled content to its agency customers.
In addition, we’ve invested in our mobile offering to allow our customers to interact directly with travelers, which is becoming increasingly significant in this hyper connected world. Whether that’s the new MTT-powered mobile app for Etihad or Travelport ViewTrip, the mobile itinerary management tool accessible whilst on the move, we’re enabling our customers to remain relevant and add value in an increasingly complicated world. Additionally, Travelport has further invested in Locomote, which empowers companies to fully manage their business travel including bookings and changes, duty of care, authorization, budgets and expenses from any device, anywhere in the world. We have invested in these digital assets as part of our bid to service the fast-growing digital economy in the global travel industry.
Written by Paul Broughton, Managing Director for UK and Ireland at Travelport
Sources: Criteo  (Q2 2015) Criteo  TripAdvisor Insights 2016  Tnooz in Rezdy research 2016  TrustYou statistic in Rezdy research 2016