Digital trends for Travel Agents in 2018

Learn why travel agencies have to adapt to offer a seamless online experience
January 30, 2018

The travel industry is rapidly changing. With the growth of the internet and the emergence of a whole new trend of millennial-travel, Online Travel Agencies have become the dominant marketing channel in this industry. Even though the travel booking sites might be taking the biggest share of the market value, one thing remains irreplaceable with traditional agencies: the human agent.

Travellers today are realizing that despite the rise of OTAs, travel agents remain a strong option as far as personalized service is concerned, where a human being will listen to their needs and desires and can get a customized recommendation for travel that is beyond issuing tickets and vouchers. Therefore, travel agents must offer the highest service standards along with the convenience of online bookings to win the millennial customers.

Customers today are behaving differently and travelling to other locations than they were a few years ago. Mobile has empowered them beyond anything we can possibly have imagined.

These days, millennials are the prime group using travel services and buying trips. Younger people travel more and they do so more often. In a market previously dominated by older buyers, it is now young people who are leading the way and shaping the future of travel sales. Travel for younger generations is more experience-based and this age group has less financial responsibility so, they have more disposable income.

This group always likes to get more for their money, consequently, Millennials do not mind to book their trips in travel agencies if they offered them something valuable. Humans still have a future in travel, but they ought to get increasingly specialized and savvy about how to connect with the smartphone-enabled traveller.

In an increasingly digital world, travel agencies have to adapt to offer a seamless online experience. Failing to do that and they will be quickly overlooked and left behind. Travellers are getting smarter, so Travel Agents need to be too — go from offline to online!

Top challenges that travel agents are currently facing:

Do not fear! Most of these challenges can be surpassed and turned into opportunities.

Getting noticed and staying ahead

Travel agencies’ customers are loyal to using their services because they realise that agencies might get them a better value. They take the “burden” off the group leader by arranging and inputting everything. Agencies tell would-be travellers about destinations or extra-activities they may not be aware of, as well as room upgrades at a better cost than expected.

In fact, Travel Agencies can fulfill customers vacations with options they would never have thought of. But, for that, customers need to know they exist. Indeed, marketing is one of the biggest challenges agencies currently face. Furthermore, the ever-growing competition of online travel site (OTAs), emphasises another problem travel agents face: staying ahead of online travel agents. For that, they need to continue building trust in people that a human can help better than a computer.

>> See also: Ultimate Guide to Quickly Boost Your Hotel’s Customer Care

More choice than ever and decreasing customer loyalty

Indeed, potential travellers are certainly not short on options when it comes to researching and arranging their trips. With more deals, agencies and service offerings than one could ever fully consider, shopping for travel services has become a true adventure. But then again too much choice ends up being harmful to travel agencies that get less publicity.

At the same time, with more holiday bargains on the internet than one can possibly imagine, along with a host of small agencies and big hitters competing for the attention of travellers, loyalty is a rare thing in today’s market. If agencies do not offer something original, authentic and worth returning to, customers will have no problem taking their business elsewhere.

Greater Traveller Independence and the fact that travelling isn’t as mysterious as it used to be

Nowadays, travellers are keen to get out and explore independently. They are savvy enough to know what they want and how to get it, and no longer need to have everything arranged for. Gone are the days when travellers would head down to their local travel agent to ask questions about an exotic land far away. Travel companies must adapt and offer something more insightful than the generic information which can be found all over the internet.

Digital trends for travel agents

Currently, the role of travel agencies is changing. It is certainly true that people know what they want more than ever before, but at the same time, digital trends have opened a door to many travel agencies becoming more specialised, offering tailored trips to their customers. The key is to adapt and play with your strengths. So, here are some travel trends for 2018 every travel agency should know about:

Virtual Reality

VR allows the possibility of giving holidaymakers the chance to “try before you buy” in a way that has previously been impossible. You try on clothes to see how they look before taking your credit card out, but you have to take a travel company’s word for it that their beach resort really does offer “pristine white sand beaches”. It is a recent trend, but in the near future, one will be able to look around the resort, see their room and check out just how big the pool is!

Artificial Intelligence

Travel sites have long been studying with the idea of implementing real-time messaging platforms and personalized automation technology — that is chatbots. They have the potential to really change how people search for travel.

Messaging apps are connecting travellers with human travel agents and they are already beginning to make a mark in the industry. People are looking to book trips in the easiest ways possible and this is where chatbots can help travel agencies.

Virtual is almost a requirement in today’s world, so let me tell a little bit more about HiJiffy, a SaaS that built a chatbot which improves your clients’ engagement and increases your users’ retainment with and AI-powered travel agent in Facebook Messenger.

In fact, we had more than 200 monthly users chatting with a travel agency and 45% came through the website’s widget.

So, let me explain how does our solution work: we start with a set of your customers’ frequently asked questions. Whenever the bot finds it relevant, it can transfer the communication to a human agent. On your Facebook Messenger, clients can communicate any inquiries, suggestions or complaints and if they want to they can insert all the information necessary to request a quote.

In addition, our solution allows you to re-engage with your clients, send them the right message at the right time with our smart notification system.‍

>> Read also: Hotel Technology 2020: What will the hotel of the future be like?
Head of Business Development @HiJiffy

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