Amadeus recently attended the annual conference of the Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA), which was held in Cape Town from 20 to 23 May.
The theme of the conference, Travel Mirror, reflected the fact that like a mirror, reality never gives us back more than we put into it. In an ever-changing world, our relevance and value has to be constantly assessed, reviewed and reinforced.
To help travel agents deal with the ever-changing reality of the 21st century, ASATA released a new whitepaper, The 21st Century Travel Agent. In this whitepaper, ASATA outlined several recommendations for travel agents. One of these recommendations stipulates that travel agents should embrace technology.
Until now, travel agents have responded defensively to the online and mobile technologies, according to ASATA. Constrained by their historical physical retail store operating model, travel agents see themselves as being in competition with online travel booking engines and travel service providers for the travel booking transaction. This needs to change.
Travel agents need to start seeing the opportunities that these technologies present, ASATA told delegates, referring to Amadeus Managed Travel 3.0. “Where technology will be the influencing factor in travel management, it will be the travellers who will determine their requirements and how those are met.”
The Connected Traveller will move from channel to channel, expecting the same offers, prices and service whatever channel they choose. Travel Agents could leverage technology to pursue an ‘omni-channel’ strategy that delivers a personalised, 24/7 experience to the leisure traveller from the start of the travel process to the end.
Technology and mobile communication will allow travel agents to generate additional revenue from new offers that meet the needs of the travellers. Travel agents will also be able to use technology to promote and market their services via social media as well as use technologies to access detailed product and destination information.
The message was clear: evolution through technology and training will ensure travel agencies’ continual survival and their ability to overcome the challenges they are facing. So, if you want to be a successful travel agent in the 21st century: it’s time to embrace technology!