Advances in technologies have changed the way we travel, the way we make bookings and the way we share our travel experiences. But, which are the top 5 technologies that have really shaken up the travel industry?
Namibian-based travel agency Trip Travel turned 60 this year and shared with us the top 5 technologies that have revolutionised the travel industry during the past 60 years.
The first technology to revolutionise the travel industry in Namibia was the introduction of computers. In 1986, Trip Travel moved to a new office, which allowed the travel agency to install a top-of-the-range network of computers, something that was completely new to the industry at the time.
“I remember writing out coupons by hand for every ticket we sold in the 90’s,” says travel consultant Shirley Acton. “We started doing the bookings on computers, but you still could not travel without the handwritten ticket supplied by your agent.”
The GDS and e-Ticketing
“Fares and rules were standardised across the world in the early 90s,” Shirley remembers. “We had these thick books from which we would work out the mileage for each flight in order to calculate the client’s fare.”
Shirley explains if a client visited numerous countries in Europe using different airlines, consultants would need to manually work out the fare for the trip. She adds: “Once or twice a year the government would inform us that there would for instance be a 3% increase on the fare between Johannesburg and London, and then we would sit until late that evening informing our clients and writing out their tickets for them so that they could get the benefit of issuing their tickets before the increase became effective.”
Herbert Burmeister, Trip Travel COO, says that signing up with Amadeus has made the world of difference to the agency. “To be able to have the live inventory of airlines, hotels and car rental companies on Amadeus has definitely made a huge difference in the lives of travel agents. We wouldn’t be anywhere near as efficient if we didn’t have that live inventory.”
The Internet has brought a wealth of information to travel agents, simplifying their work and allowing them to access up-to-date travel updates for their clients. However, the Internet has also seen the emergence of online bookings and travellers trying to bypass the travel agent.
“While it is true that online bookings are ever increasing,” says the current Managing Director Rodrick Engelbrecht, “we believe that there is still a great need for travel professionals in our times. Our consultants are well trained and very experienced in all the little details that make up a successful business or leisure trip, and they do their best in order to save our clients time and money.
Trip Travel’s Ilsje Du Plooy explains that eTicketing and Internet Sales of tickets have indeed been ‘game changers’ in the industry. Also online check-in has made a huge difference in the lives of travellers.
Mobile technology and apps such as Check My Trip
Although Herbert explains that the mobile technology hasn’t made a huge impact in the lives of travel agents yet, it certainly has changed the way in which clients are travelling. He says: “With Check My Trip, travellers can have all the details of their trip on their mobile phone.”
Thanks to the smartphone, travellers now also have constant access to their e-mails and messaging when they are travelling, says Herbert. This has greatly improved the communication between the travel agent and the client. Also Duty of Care has improved thanks to the smartphone, as travellers can now be reached easily in cases of emergency.
Technologies that allow travel agents to work from anywhere
During the last few years, technologies have emerged to allow travel agents to work from home, while still being able to issue flight tickets. Amadeus’ Remote Ticketing Solution has allowed Trip Travel some flexibility, explains Herbert. He says: “Consultants are no longer bound to the office.”
Another solution introduced by Amadeus is Selling Platform Connect, which allows travel agents to access the GDS from their mobile devices from anywhere. They can be watching their children’s sports competitions and still book a flight ticket for their clients from their phones.
These five technologies have completely transformed the travel industry in the past 60 years. It will be interesting and exciting to see what technologies the next 60 years will bring….