Travel Agent Headaches? eRoam to the Rescue!

First, the good news. According to US travel group Travel Experts as quoted in Travel Weekly, some of their members have seen a tenfold increase in bookings in the last two months, suggesting that traveller confidence is returning as destinations continue to open.

The bad news? Agents are still experiencing the same old problems. Travel Experts member agencies are still struggling with long phone wait times, slow email responses from suppliers, shortage of rental cars, high airfares, and difficulty with booking cruises in particular, all of which means they are slow in getting back to their clients with quotes and not converting as much business as they should.

If only there were a way to avoid all this…wait, there is! And it’s called eRoam. With eRoam’s huge global marketplace (over 100,000 destinations) of travel products, including hotels, tours & activities, flights, transfers, car rental, ferries, trains, cruises and more, agents can get live pricing and availability in seconds – no need for phone calls or emails. eRoam’s flights module compares fares across multiple carriers to find the lowest fares, whilst our cruise module (coming in Q3 2021) offers the biggest selection of live cruise fares & availability on the market. And our car rental module gives you access to hundreds of vehicle providers across the globe.

This means that agents can put together detailed, complex quotes in minutes rather than hours/days, delighting their clients and increasing their conversion rates. To find out more, contact us now for a demo and a free trial!

The State of Travel Booking in 2021 Pt 2: Our Tips

 

A couple of days ago we looked at Skyscanner’s Horizons report into the state of travel booking in 2021, and extracted our key takeaways. In Part 2 of this blog, we present our tips for making sure your travel business is capitalising on this year’s booking trends, as our industry begins to reawaken from its COVID-induced coma…

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Skyscanner Survey Reveals State of Travel Booking in 2021 – Pt1

Travel metasearch engine Skyscanner’s new report ‘Skyscanner Horizons – The Return of Travel‘ was published last week, and with the tourism industry starting to stir back into life following the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s a very timely insight into how travellers are booking their first trips in 2021. You can click the link above to download the full report, but we’ve summarised our five key takeaways in this post. In part 2, we’ll share our tips for benefiting from these trends.

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Letter From America: Bob’s Thoughts on US Travel Recovery

In his first post for the eRoam blog, our US Commercial Director Bob Gilbert shares his thoughts on the outlook for post-COVID tourism recovery…

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VIDEO: eRoam for Travel Agents & Advisors

Hot off the editing suite, here’s our brand new eRoam explainer video to show travel agents and advisors just how quick and easy it is to use our huge global marketplace to build complex itineraries and quotes in over 100,000 worldwide destinations. Choose your destinations, dates, number of passengers and traveller preferences, confirm your choices, and bingo – the system automatically generates the perfect itinerary in seconds. To learn more, watch the video then contact us for a demo!

 

 

 

How Vacation Deprivation Can Bring Jollification to Your Organisation

 

The concept of vacation deprivation syndrome (VDS) – ie not getting enough holidays or travel – has existed for many years now, and has been the subject of an annual Expedia survey for the last few years. It’s usually applied to people who work too much and don’t get enough annual leave, especially Americans, but with COVID19 still restricting foreign travel, it’s currently affecting us all.

Because whilst we may have more time on our hands than usual, we can’t really go anywhere, as foreign travel is an impossibility in most parts of the world. But whilst most of us can at least travel around their own countries, and are doing so in large numbers, pity those poor Singaporeans, stuck in their tiny city state without even the option of travelling to another domestic destination. So it’s no wonder that, in the 2020 Expedia Vacation Deprivation study, Singaporeans (along with Italians) were found to be the nation suffering most from VDS, with 71% of those surveyed bemoaning their lack of travel options. Close behind were France and South Korea at 70% and Malaysia with 68%. The feeling was particularly strong with younger travellers, with 85% of 18-34 year olds suffering from particularly itchy feet.

The survey also found that such was the pent up demand that 67% of Singaporeans were planning to allocate more in 2021 to their travel budget than in previous years, with a few reservations: 33% will only book fully refundable trips, 21% will only be booking at the last minute, and 20% want to go to quiet, socially distanced destinations.

So with travellers desperate to escape and start exploring again, how can your company exploit the symptoms of VDS?

  • Make people dream. Provide drool-worthy travel content in the form of images, videos, stories and travel packages
  • Focus on the last two quarters of 2021 which is when people will realistically be able – and willing – to travel overseas
  • Push unique experiences and luxury travel to entice those with larger budgets
  • Offer clearly defined cancellation and refund policies, along with trip insurance
  • Offer great early bird deals to get people booking now, but also don’t forget those last-minute travellers
  • Promote domestic destinations – get people travelling now!
  • Promote quiet, remote destinations and private accommodation to enable travellers to avoid crowds

…and of course, use the right technology to build compelling travel itineraries from a worldwide range of literally millions of different travel products including accommodation, flights, tours/activities, transportation and more – which is where eRoam comes in. We specialise in helping travel companies offer better products and better service using our affordable, cutting edge and easy-to-implement technology. Contact us now for a demo and a free trial to see how we can help you turn VDS into $$$!

 

 

I Choose You: 5 Tips to Make Online Travel Bookers Stick Around

Expedia’s 2015 survey into online travel booking habits gave us one of our industry’s best-known stats – that the average online travel booker visits 38 different sites before making a purchase. Google Travel describe it as “travel snacking” – dipping in and out of the internet to compare prices, find destination information, look at accommodation options, check visa requirements and so on.

So if you’re selling travel online, you have a LOT of competition! With every click, your potential clients are being exposed to alternative booking options, with even small travel blogs offering affiliate links to OTAs. How can you make sure that these flighty online bookers choose you? Here are our tips… Read more

A Blank Slate: Seven Ways to Reset Your Business

 

At some point, I suspect everyone who has run their own business has wished they could hit the reset button. Maybe the business hasn’t evolved in the way you planned; maybe you don’t have the right clients, or you have the right clients but you’re not giving them the right level of service; maybe your team doesn’t have the right dynamic; maybe you picked the wrong tech solutions; maybe you’ve simply abandoned your original ideals in order to make revenue. However, once your business is established, starting afresh is simply unfeasible – you can’t simply dump your clients, get rid of your whole tech stack or fire your entire team, and doing it incrementally takes a lot of time. If only you were able to start again with a blank slate… Read more

Holidays at Home: How Travel Companies Can Ride the Domestic Tourism Boom

The year may have changed, but COVID-19 is still with us – and spreading faster in some countries – and so it looks as if international travel restrictions will remain in place for some time to come. But one positive side effect has been the growth in many destinations of domestic travel, as people who would normally holiday abroad rediscover the delights of their own countries, unencumbered by foreign tour groups or huge visitor numbers.

So with domestic travel undergoing something of a boom in many regions, how can struggling travel companies more used to selling outbound trips or marketing to inbound travellers pivot and make some much-needed revenue from domestic tourism? Here are our tips. Read more

COVID-19 and Travel: Digital Transformation Now More Important Than Ever

 

A few weeks ago, travel news website Skift teamed up with Amazon Web Services to canvass the views of 1,000 tourism & hospitality executives on digital transformation in their business and how COVID-19 has changed their strategy when it comes to technology and cloud-based solutions. You can download the original report here – meanwhile, here are our takeaways…

COVID-19 Has Increased the Pace of Digital Transformation

We’ve been saying it for weeks – whereas a few months ago digital transformation was seen as a nice-to-have rather than an essential for many travel companies, COVID-19 and its decimation of our industry has changed attitudes across the board. 57% of those surveyed said that the pandemic would have a significant impact on their digital transformation strategy in the short term, whilst 78% said the pandemic has made it more important for them to proceed with their digital transformation strategies.

IMAGE: AWS/SKIFT

IMAGE: AWS/SKIFT

IMAGE: AWS/SKIFT

IMAGE: AWS/SKIFT

 

Digital transformation can help companies be more responsive and more agile during crises, and can also help them rapidly pivot their product offering to move away from international to domestic travel whilst borders remain closed. We predict that those companies that come out of the crisis stronger and ready to do business will be those who already have their technology stack in place.

Few Travel Companies Are Ahead of the Curve

We didn’t really need telling about this next bit, but it was still good to see the numbers! Of those surveyed, only 28% felt they were ahead of the competition when it came to digital transformation, with 71% saying they were either keeping up or behind. We’re pretty sure that it’s the 28% who will be leading the way when travel bounces back, as it undoubtedly will.

IMAGE: AWS/SKIFT

IMAGE: AWS/SKIFT

There are several reasons why travel companies feel unable to get to grips with new tech. For larger companies, rolling out new tech across large teams and different offices is a huge undertaking. Also, keeping up to date with the rapid pace of change and the growing range of solutions can be a headache. many travel companies have legacy systems that are a key part of the business and which need to be integrated with new solutions, which takes further time and money. And of course introducing new tech, whatever size your company is, requires some upheaval, change management and staff training.

The Customer Experience Remains Top Priority

Whatever the stage of their digital transformation journey, one thing that pretty much all respondents conveyed was that delighting and retaining customers is key to their success. “Provide consistent and high-quality customer experiences”, “Deepen customer relationships” and “Increase customer retention” were three of the top four stated business priorities for 2020, and the only way to achieve these at scale is to use technology.

Customers are more digitally-savvy than ever before, more so after COVID-19 and the resultant increase in the use of Zoom calls, food ordering apps, track & trace solutions etc. People are more comfortable with tech than ever and they don’t just desire it from the travel industry – they now expect it. They’re also used to the quick, immediate booking process provided by OTAs and the old DMC model of taking hours/days to respond to a quote enquiry is on its last legs.

Travel Is Underusing Data Analytics

With digital transformation comes lots & lots of lovely, usable customer data – indeed, digital analytics is the number one area companies are planning to invest in in the next 12 months, with nearly 75% saying data analytics is very important or critical to the success of their business.

IMAGE: AWS/SKIFT

IMAGE: AWS/SKIFT

 

However, the desire does not currently match the reality! More than half of the respondents said their company’s data strategy was average or worse, with only a third claiming to be successful at using customer data analysis to make better business decisions.

The Cloud is Where It’s At!

Of the companies surveyed, 88% are either in the cloud already or planning to move their, with a mere 12% holding out and keeping their software in-house. The top three reasons for going cloud-based were better business flexibility and agility, easier scalability, and an enhanced customer experience. A mere 3% disagreed with the idea that cloud computing helps improve the customer experience and optimise the company’s operations.

With its lower costs, greater flexibility, scalability and security, and easier implementation, there is no doubt that the cloud is here to stay, and it’s not a question of if your travel business will move, but when.

 


eRoam is at the forefront of helping travel businesses digitally transform themselves to deal with the unique challenges 2020 has presented. Our cloud-based solution is affordable, easy to implement and simple to use, and helps companies provide a much better customer experience and harvest valuable behavioural data. To try eRoam for yourself, click here to sign up for a free trial.