The internet has provided a lot of benefits to all industries, especially in the travel business. The convenience of being able to book directly online radically changes the traditional way of booking through travel channels or as we all know them as travel agencies. They are now in a situation where the internet becomes both their advantage and disadvantage. To stay in business, they have to seek out other options and methods that will keep their credibility and purpose; i.e., help their business continue to thrive.
It’s as clear as black and white that travel agencies can no longer rely on their usual way of running their business. They need to join the competition because they cannot beat the internet. Their best option is to make it work to their advantage and avoid its adverse effects to prevent a backfire on their business.
So, travel agencies took the first step, which was to use the internet to promote their business and market their travel websites. This was the best course of action they could have taken.
The travel sector is an immeasurably spread out and compound industry. It is integrally interconnected with other related industries such as hotels, restaurants, airlines, gift shops, travel agencies, vehicle rentals, and it can also host other business ventures. Basically, the travel industry is the kind of service-oriented business that takes care of both people and other enterprises. Joining the internet realm is something that this industry is working to closely and continuously leverage with its tons of business benefits.
The Role of Travel Agencies
Classified as a service industry, a travel agency is responsible for the advertisement for tourism. Their role is to systematize travel services from clients like airlines, railways, shipping companies, car rentals, bus companies, hotels, and restaurants.
Their vital role is to assist in people’s travel plans, provide options, and arrange their package and holiday trips. As part of their service packaging, the agency presents budget plans as well as suggestions and advice about the best places to visit or stay, the best tourist attractions, happenings, and events.
They also offer and sell lodging, transportation, and entertainment admissions to groups or individuals who wanted an exciting and grand getaway. They take full responsibility in making travel arrangements for both local and international clients.
Within the tourism enterprise, travel is deemed to be the leg of the business. At the same time, travel agents are considered to be its backbone. They’re the experts of hospitality and create a platform that will cater to the travel needs of everyone who requires professional assistance. Their fundamental role is to provide information, reservation, distribution, and travel services.
They cater to the following services:
- Arrange traveler’s transportation via sea, air, bus, cruise, rail, and car both local and abroad.
- Set itineraries, group, and individual tours, and prepared package tours.
- Prepares accommodation in resorts, hotels, motels with sightseeing and meals.
- Sets up passenger transfers and luggage assistance from terminals and hotels. In addition to this, they also organize special events like theater or concert tickets and/or music festivals.
- They also handle and explain further details regarding travel and luggage insurances, foreign currency exchanges, travelers’ cheques, and personal documentation requirements such as health certificates, visas, and other travel papers.
- They can also accommodate special travels like religious pilgrimages, business travels and conventions, educational trips and incentives, gourmet tours, adventure, sporting trips, and other travel activities.
Travel Agencies And The Internet: Working Together
‘If you can’t beat them, join them.’ (1) This is the mantra travel agencies are using upon discovering the strategy to use the internet to their advantage. They are using the platform to help them market their online travel services and to get in touch with clients and travelers through their respective website or social media platform which works well for both parties. There are travel agencies who can provide services that other travel competitors cannot dispense just like customized services and complex travel requests, arrangements, and agendas.
There are travel agencies in this day and age that aim to prioritize building rapport and stable connection with clients as opposed to making the most of their sales. They carry out this practice by providing high-standards and customized services. This program is similar to the method the majority of travel agencies in Japan adopt.
A Discreet And Personalized Competition
Because the internet has the power to accommodate and provide almost every bit of information and meet the requirements of various institutions and business industries, travel agencies reap its benefits and opportunities by reaching out to online communities and establish what online travel sites cannot do – to build a more personal relationship with customers and potential clients. This game plan can help them use all the beneficial impact of the internet and prevent the traditional travel business from losing its value. They also maximize the power of the internet to effectively market their brand and services, create new travel and exclusive packages and products, and present clients with a competitive, yet friendly travel plans, packages, and deals. This is their indirect way of indirectly competing with the internet for the business to stay alive.
Traditional Travel Agencies Over Online Travel Agencies
Online booking has been taken over by Online Travel Agencies or OTA. Back in 2017, a report indicated how the online business rapidly increased, be that as it may, their close adversary, the Traditional Travel Agencies was up for the race. Although the traditional travel booking had undergone a major setback in client and other business dealing volume, when people started being expert with computers and the works of the internet, adventure-seekers and nomads started using OTAs. They also utilized other travel sites to help them plan and book their trips independently. However, most recent data proves a sudden turnover of events.
Albeit those OTAs may seem the most preferred travel booking platform, travel agencies and agents can still succeed in this digital period and manage to hit the spot in the market if they know how to play the game.
Ways The Conventional Travel Agency Can Compete
Find your sphere of influence
Journeyers from various fields can confidently pinpoint that the strong-willed-travel agents still have that competitive spirit. And that these techy nomads very well understand that although they can conveniently look for their next travel destination, tickets, hotel, food stops, tourist attractions and what not, a personal travel service provider like travel agents can do it at an even better, quicker, and at a much more affordable rate.
Experts found out that an experienced traveler can save about four hours from their travel research when acquiring assistance from a travel agency and the following niches appear to opt for a travel agency instead.
- Business-related travelers
- Pleasure-seeker travelers
Adapt more convenient payment options
One reasonable scenario why OTAs have thrived in the business is because they guarantee security and convenient payment options. This idea should also be used by travel agencies who still implement the “physical” payment method or via postal service. This outdated process should be reformed, by all means.
It’s a serious matter that traditional travel agencies conform to the latest and more convenient payment methods like mobile payment and online payment techniques. Making this change can guarantee customer gratification and increase their customer experience satisfaction. Presenting mobile payment options can vouch for security, loyalty, and real-time payment process.
Broaden the scope
One of the best reasons for choosing a travel agency is that they already have established professional connections with industries that can grant access to the best destinations and accommodations. They can even widen their influence through other international agencies to be given other perks and to strengthen their business offers.
These business relationships are highly beneficial to both parties as they can refer customers to each other when necessary and with commissions, share clients, and can even increase their customer volume in specific locations and industries.
Present your services and brand
Another way independent travel agencies compete with OTAs is to properly showcase that a professional travel agent can present travelers with better travel packages, destinations, and accommodations. Experienced nomads can easily book a trip online, but only a travel agency can pull everything together until it becomes a complete vacation package.
It is through the expertise of travel agencies that clients save themselves the hassle of doing their own travel destination research and ticket promo search. Their professional guidance and satisfying customer service are what makes the traditional approach much better. A travel agency will process all the necessary paperwork for the customer while suppliers make the payment.
Travel agencies don’t necessarily have to join and follow every system and processes that OTAs have. It’s actually much more beneficial to the business if they integrate the GDS (Global Distribution System) to gain access to airline promos, hotel information, and supply. This system, together with an upgrade to an online payment platform, is the perfect business strategy a traditional travel agency can do to level up with the convenience being offered by OTAs. Now, travel agencies can confidently compete with online travel competitors while taking advantage of the internet to customize and personalize their approach to each customer. This then makes everything more professional and convenient without risking the agency’s credibility and branding.
1. http://freakonomics.com/2009/11/19/quotes-uncovered-who-first-said-if-you-cant-beat-em/ The Yale Book of Quotations, which attempts to trace all famous quotations to their earliest findable occurrence, lists this as a proverb. The earliest citation given, in the form “If you can’t lick ’em, jine ’em,” is from the Atlantic Monthly, February 1932, where it is described as one of Senator James E. Watson‘s “favorite sayings.”