Technology solutions providers rate how well agencies in the region have gained the high-touch factor through the use of technology in the past year
President, Amadeus Asia-Pacific
The online space in Asia, particularly China, South Korea and India, is where you see the most advanced usage of mobility and mobile devices compared to anywhere else in the world.
The amount of traffic that stems from mobile devices in Asia is over 50 per cent. There is leapfrogging – many companies move from having the majority of their business in traditional (modes) to mobile directly, not necessarily going through the web phrase.
In the more traditional space, some travel agencies have learnt to stay specialised and a few companies have managed to keep the high touch with their clients and keep the knowledge pertinent for those type of customers. Through that, they are able to take a higher share of wallet than if they purely serve clients on the online mode.
Agencies should adopt new technologies and follow the way consumers want to buy. More consumers want to buy via mobile, but also mobile devices allow the delivery of services in different places in different ways.
General manager – Asia, Travelport
Consumers in Asia are very advanced and open to personalised services. However not too many agencies are meeting that demand. They are not investing in that space as sufficiently as they should.
To increase their game in offering personalised service, agencies need to first invest in building up data on their customers and to mine that data for business intelligence insights. They should also be online and mobile-ready because personalised service would most definitely require a fusion of offline, online and mobile touchpoints with the customer.
Travelport has identified these critical needs of our agency partners and have been working on developing the necessary solutions.
Vice president, marketing and sales, Galileo Indonesia
There are two kinds of travel agents, offline and online.
To compete with OTAs, offline travel agents are seeking ways to serve clients better. Many have created their own online sites but as travellers are getting smarter, they need to raise their service standards to be more personalised. (So they use technology such as) Galileo’s Travel Profile, which records a client’s profile and preferences. This way, their clients do not need to depend on a specific travel consultant in the company to get personalised service.
Agents need to continue to step up their services by maximising existing facilities.
For example, airlines today offer travellers to choose meals, seat preferences and additional baggage. Travellers usually go to the airline’s website or contact airline’s office themselves to request for these choice after the tickets have been issued by their travel agent.
Agents need to keep up with the latest airline offerings without continually having to check the airlines’ websites. They need to be able to instantly compare fares, see pictures of the cabins and seats in a single window. This will enable them to suggest options their customers might not have previously considered and offer the best deal for them.
Product manager for Sales IQ, Zoho, India
On a scale of 1-5, I would rate travel agencies 2.5 on the use of technology to increase personalised service.
In the past decade, agencies have moved from printed brochures to artistically-crafted websites, containing a portfolio of pictures of exotic locations. But the website is just the beginning; the real challenge is converting travel enthusiasts to sign up for an actual trip.
For example, website visitors interested in a backpacking trip to the Himalayas should be shown nearby attractions, fun events and offers that would fuel their curiosity. Sadly, it’s not the case right now; they have to dig through multiple pages of information to make their travel plans.
Travel agencies should realise they need to collect useful data like a contact information, geolocation, website and buying behaviour while a customer is on their website.
All this data should be sliced and diced by a software, creating profiles of their customers. Profiling will also enable agencies to send targeted/personalised messaging based on a website visitors’ interests.
Visitors can also make quicker and informed trip decisions. A platform like Zoho SalesIQ can give you this edge.
CEO, Open Destinations, Singapore
We have noticed growth in the number of enquiries from Asian travel companies over the last few years to upgrade to more advanced software. They want to replace their old legacy systems with new technology that will aid them in providing more personalised service and customise their product offering towards their customers.
The consumer is booking more and more last minute, therefore agencies need to have technology that allows them to service this trend. This can be achieved through increasing integrations with suppliers such as flights, hotels and other ground services.
Additional reporting from Paige Lee Pei Qi, Mimi Hudoyo, S Puvaneswary and Rohit Kaul