What’s piqued our interest most this year are the relevance of technology in the travel trade and the trends driving international tourism. Got some time now to reflect, time to read, plot and plan for the next milestone? Let’s take stock of how much you’ve learnt, what your brand has incorporated into your growth strategies, and explore how to continue the good work you’ve done.

How has your content adapted to trends?

The subtle undercurrent threading many trends during 2018 is that of social conscience driving travel decisions. This was the year of Protecting Culture & Heritage, which popularised voluntourism to an extent and in a more general sense, instilled greater sensitivity in travellers to the impact of tourism on destinations and their residents. Travel has always been very personal and your sophisticated traveller is only taking matters deeper, to more personalised level. The unique, quirky, off-beaten track and off-peak travel times, and ‘new’ locations that lend themselves to exclusivity, can be found or developed in as many destinations as the world is wide. Have you identified opportunities for these and other trends in your area?

Events and Festivals

If there’s a party, a celebration of life – human, animal or plant – of culture & lifestyle, of what we do for fun, in worship or to nourish ourselves, there will be an event or a festival to mark its significance.

 

Solo Travel

Local living & local interactions are top of their wish list, with wellness & relaxation a close second, followed by adventure & forever the need to give back with ecotourism activities.

 

Family Travel

If we’re to grow our business & encourage healthy tourism, this investment in family-friendly travel will, after all, serve entire generations of future travellers who earned their travel stripes on vacation with their parents.

 

Road tripping

Making it easier means the information you make available constitutes the ultimate road trip guide for your traveller. Market your road trip routes based on the iconic status of your destination with content that makes the experience accessible.

Urban, photography and wellness travel were all big trends in 2018. Also niche travel, which is just a bottomless treasure chest of opportunities waiting to be explored – we’ll dig a little deeper into those next year. How to propose Wellness to a Solo traveller.

As for the consumption of travel content, the trend that suggests better engagement is detailed, interactive content: the lure of the clickable link; the hunger of the digital mouse; the power of choice. The prospect of a sale is directly proportional to the length of time a prospective client interacts with travel content. They’ll stay if they’re interested in what you say and they’ll dig deeper for longer if you involve them in choosing content that’s relevant to them.How has your service improved in response to traveller demands?

Respond first and make it count! With the right content in your sales arsenal, you already stand a better chance than your competitors to make an enduring impression, but in the age of instant gratification, you want to be the brand that gets back to a prospective client first. To be first is to be fast. Have you improved on your enquiry turnaround time?

If you can build an itinerary in minutes – a thorough, detailed, visually-appealing proposal – you can use the time you save to consult with the client and build their profile. Remind them there’s a caring, committed travel professional at the other end of your quote.

Changes will come and so will the questions – prompt service at this stage is equally vital. A chat option on the client itinerary takes care of that.

You’re winning if you’ve personalised the experience with bells and whistles that speak to the client’s specific needs and interests.

If you can quickly amend, add alternative accommodation options, propose components you think the client would like but doesn’t know to ask for, even reverse an itinerary, you’re still going to impress the client with your speed.

Once they confirm, take your service a level higher with an itinerary app that provides your client’s travel info in a user-friendly layout on/offline. It’s as simple as getting them to download the app (from Google Play Store for Android or Apple App Store for iOS) and then giving them the mobile code for their itinerary.

They get destination info, maps, directions, contact details for their accommodation and other service providers, local push notifications that alert them of upcoming events on their trip, as well as a means to contact their consultant.

To find out the weather, currency, optional or recommended activities and attractions in-destination, or any other practical info included in the itinerary, they need only consult this 1 source.

👈🏽See it for yourself: download the app onto your device and enter the code 2Q9LWP.

You’re even giving them bragging rights with the ability to share their amazing trip on social mediaIsn’t this exactly the kind of service travellers tell each other about when they want to recommend a good brand?

How have you used tech to develop your business?

If you’re reading this, you already appreciate the technological imperative in the way you sell travel. Tech is a way to harness everything you know and continue to learn about destinations, the trade, suppliers and your clients, in order to develop, sell and promote the best of your brand. What will improve productivity among your staff significantly is if you’ve begun to compile info from 1st hand experience – educationals, site inspections, expertise on preferred suppliers, suitable alternatives, service providers and guides – into a centralised location for easy access to use and edit. If you use the digital consultant portal, this not only puts valuable info for building proposals at everyone’s fingertips, but it also doubles as fast-tracked product training for anyone lacking 1st hand knowledge.

A smarter way to work would’ve been to make detail like that available to everyone who needed it in a format that didn’t stretch the memory – it would serve the client & make us look like we knew our stuff.

You should be saving time and you should be producing consistently good quality proposals, and still maintain brand integrity. If multiple heads are better than 1, what could be easier than organising your collective knowledge in a single location?

Tech aids what you put into your proposals as well as what they look like. You should be differentiating your brand by designing a template, theme and layout that represents your brand identity without needing high level IT intervention; without taking up too much of your time.

In this tale of 2 cities, we present the same Canadian urban experience in 2 unique themes and layouts. Click if you’re curious.

It’s about standing out among the rest, representing your brand and professional image at all times.

Tech empowers you with the means to expand your market if you’re able to translate your itineraries into other languages – increase brand exposure to a larger pool of travellers. With machine translations now helping you to add linguistic variation to your proposals, you should be promoting your experiences further afield than you’ve done traditionally. You could manually translate all your content – nothing wrong with doing that once and saving it for future use, but when the tech exists to make that process easier for you, why stick to the longer, resource-heavy way of doing things?

In the event that your quoting software does well at costing but not so great at publishing, by now you’ve learnt that you have the option to integrate with a system that helps you produce high quality, visually-rich itinerary outputs. You should not be doing double work or let your brand down with below-par presentations or content. A systems integration is easier than you think – here’s more on how you can have the best of both worlds.

Finally, you should be managing your operational functions around upcoming/confirmed bookings better with tech helping you monitor tasks and get them done according to calendar deadlines.

Work needn’t come to a standstill because someone is on leave, nor should time-sensitive tasks suffer.

Have you got those email notifications set up to remind yourself or your colleagues? Your confirmed bookings should get priority when necessary even if you’re not there to see to them. In your absence, a colleague can also easily access details on your bookings to advise your clients. Going on year-end leave? A quick overview of all your upcoming trips provides your team with a nifty, time-saving solution that adds extra kick of efficiency to your customer service.

How have you built your brand (presence)?

Consistency isn’t always top of mind for many travel brands, but think about the impression you create wherever your content is seen. To be trustworthy and professional, a brand to be taken seriously, is to be consistent and reliable. Your brand = your content + your logo + your staff + the service you provide + the degree of relevance to trends + your accessibility.

Have you been promoting your brand online at different stages of the buyer journey?

You should have a presence on social media with shareable itineraries bearing your logo. Have you added your digital itineraries via your Facebook app (did you know you can do that)?

You should share branding of all your collateral with your agents and re-sellers, from itineraries to catalogues – digitally accessible and easy to consume.

Present your staff to the world, add their stories to digital newsletters, blogs and emails in support of your featured collateral. Use those out-of-office email responses to introduce the consultant and add the links to your digital catalogue for good measure. These are all important threads to the digital story of your brand, enabled and distributed via technology.

It keeps your brand visible, memorable and front of mind.

It’s easy to tell a comprehensive story around your brand with the digital tools at your disposal, and just as easy to grow your presence in the global online media. Add a Book Now button to your interactive content and it’s that much easier for prospects to act upon a decision they’ve just made. That’s the final component in your brand story: how tech savvy you are informs travellers that your brand is on top of its game, a credible travel brand to do business with.

If you do nothing else during this year-end lull when most companies take the time to assess the triumphs and shortfalls of the past year, just consider this: Why work harder when you can work smarter and take your brand to new heights? It’s not about reinventing the wheel; just being strategic with how you use tech to lubricate the engine of your business.🚀

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