Since its inception in 1983, the internet has revolutionised the travel industry and the way consumers choose to search for and book holidays. Research by ABTA shows that a whopping 76% of people used the internet to book a trip in 2016, with just 21% booking over the telephone and even fewer in person.
In other words, showcasing deals and packages in a shop window no longer cuts the mustard for the modern-day traveller and adopting new technology is essential to reach travellers in the ever-growing online market.
Travel companies must have a strong online presence for the chance to compete with the most successful brands in the industry. Websites and social media accounts are helpful, but do not provide the instant service that consumers crave, resulting in reduced conversion rates and loss of business altogether.
The most simple and efficient way to solve this problem is by implementing a booking system into your website. Here’s why…
The door is always open
Gone are the days of rushing to the local travel agents on your lunch-break or making countless calls to a representative to build and book your travel packages.
Mobile usage is on the rise and travellers love having the freedom to shop around at any time, in any place. However, many people (including travel agents) work 9-5 jobs and can’t use this time to browse the web for the latest travel deals.
A main advantage of an internet booking engine for consumers is the freedom to research and book their trips outside of normal office hours, without the need for an agent to process and confirm it.
Booking systems work around the clock, picking up all the customers that have been missed by those without an engine and relieving the stress of planning travel for those of us with busy schedules.
Booking engine… or robo-colleague?
Processing bookings manually is difficult and time-consuming. We bet there have been times you wished for someone (or something) to share the workload with. With an internet booking engine, there is.
Imagine having a colleague that jots down all the necessary information during the reservation process, ensures that bookings don’t overlap, automatically sends out confirmation e-mails and updates availability once the booking has been processed. Booking engines do all this and more, saving agents heaps of valuable time to focus on face-to-face and over-the-phone reservations.
Configure your booking engine to support your business goals and let the system do the rest for you; minimum effort, maximum reward!
One word: structure
Storing all customer data in one structured system comes with many benefits for a travel company. The information obtained during the booking process can be used to create a more personalised user experience through packages and promotions, tailored to individual customer needs.
Moreover, a structured system can be a great marketing tool, allowing agents to target previous customers through various channels with information they will find both relevant and interesting based on their previous bookings and increasing the chances of repeat customers.
By building purpose-built packages and special offers to link to from other mediums, online travel booking systems are the first step to building a loyal customer base.
Give customers the service they expect
Being able to assist multiple customers at once is not always possible without the help of a booking system, especially when each customer expects a different level of service. What unites each customer is that they do not want to be kept waiting!
By offering customers an alternative channel to search and book their trips, you can satisfy the customer that craves efficiency while your hands are tied dealing with customers that enjoy the human touch when it comes to making travel arrangements.
The immediate service that an engine provides, not to mention the extra time it allows you to give first class customer service, can help you meet customer needs and reduce the chances of receiving negative feedback.
Not as many pennies as you think
Often misconstrued as an expensive alternative to hiring a human travel agent, online travel booking systems are actually a cost-effective extension of a travel agent’s business offering.
Working around the clock and instantly processing transactions, a typical booking engine solution requires a one-time setup fee, with monthly payments starting from less than a week’s pay for an employee on an average salary.
Nowadays, and with so many benefits to reap, it’s surprising that not all travel companies have a booking engine in place. But this is changing fast as the amount of online travel bookers increases year on year and agents understand the benefits to productivity, conversion rates, and, most importantly, growth.
Are you ready to target the online market? Find out how.
Enjoyed this article? Sign up to our blog to receive regular content straight to your inbox from Billian HQ!