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Why Mobility is a Must-Have in a Travel Agent’s Life
Why Mobility is a Must-Have in a Travel Agent’s Life
Perhaps you have an established travel agency or are thinking of starting one. You have a nice office with plenty of clients and you really don’t know why you should go mobile. If your customers want to use mobile devices, then they are probably already doing online booking, right? Wrong. To be a successful travel agent you need to be mobile.
In the 21st century it is an essential part of your business model and will become more so as time goes on. There is a huge need for travel agencies to invest in mobile and here’s why: millennials, not seniors, are now the single largest group to hire a travel agent according to Travel Weekly. It is the 80s and 90s kids who grew up with the internet who are most likely to forego self-booking tools and consult with or book through an agency. This is part of the reason why it is so important that you and your travel agents be mobile: because your customers are.
What are millennials looking for?
According to travel agents, millennials are some of the most informed of all customers when they arrive at an agency. They have already done a lot of research and know where they want to go, but they want you to work out the finer details of their trips. One of the major things that young travelers want is a more ethnic touch. They want to really feel like they are getting into a culture. These are things that they cannot find themselves. They want to go off the beaten path and truly feel like they are getting a cultural experience.
However, they will want to meet with and communicate with you on their terms. So mobility is a huge advantage to you since it will let you meet with them on the go, talk trip details, and, especially in the case of texting, it leaves a digital paper trial. Which leads us into….
So what does all this have to do with your agency going mobile? For starters, nearly all millennials text and texting as a form of communication between customers and agents is on the rise. This matters because young people moving rapidly between school, family, work, or other activities may not find that time to come to the office and sit down to talk about travel.
Do not despair, as this is actually great news for you. Texting is improving travel agents’ lives. With the rise in customer texting, it actually lets you work with several clients at the same time, responding to texts as they come in. You also get the benefit of greater free time since you can turn normally unproductive time like waiting for an appointment to show up or riding the bus into work into productive time by texting your clients about the specifics of their trips. Some agents even plan trips for customers start to finish through texting.
For the agent who only keeps regular office hours, you are potentially missing out on a gold mine. Online self-booking tools are available day and night so anyone can go anywhere and book trips anytime. If you don’t offer the same kind of flexibility then you will be missing out on many potential clients, particularly the younger ones who are more apt to be up late planning their vacations. Again, this is a huge benefit to you since it allows you to work with more customers at more times of the day by embracing the same mobile, free flowing lifestyle as your largest customer base.
The interfaces of texting or mobile calling offer a more user friendly approach over face to face that the younger generation loves. They can be waiting for a class to start and texting you about some thoughts they have on their trip. Young people really do value what you have to say, and they are turning to you as the professional to plan activities or come up with ideas. They trust and expect you to know more about where they are going and what they should do than they do. By going mobile, it allows you more time to plan as well as not be caught off guard by questions. Since their question was texted, you can look up the answer and get back to them with an air of professionalism.
Other ways to be a Mobile Agent
Being a mobile agent is not only about texting your customers but also having access to your working systems via your mobile devices. Probably the most critical one on mobile is the access to the GDS. It allows you to do last minute changes, booking on the go, manage the queues or use the time on the train to issue some tickets. It’s really a live changer!
Some travel agents are “semi-mobile”, the ones that carry the laptop everywhere, but let’s face it: that’s not being mobile. Being truly mobile is having the capability of doing everything from the comfort of your smartphone or tablet. It’s taking advantage of those moments you could not do anything else like waiting for a doctor appointment or drinking a coffee at Starbucks. Being mobile is all about optimizing your live and that reflects on the service you provide to your customers.
Some example of being GDS mobile are Sabre Red Mobile for Sabre and Travelport Mobile Agent for all three Travelport GDS: Galileo, Apollo and Worldspan.
Using Travelport Mobile Agent as an example, it allows you to do the full booking process, ticket, queue management, send out itineraries to your customers, and perform changes, cancelations, and so on. Basically everything you normally do on the Travelport Smartpoint desktop product, but instead of being stuck to the office computer, it’s right there on your pocket or your purse, ready for you when you need it. It’s the comfort of knowing that if one of those millennial sends you a text, you can immediately access your GDS account and perform the change and confirm it back to the customer. It’s a five stars service that your customers will appreciate and for you personally it’s a job well done instead of a worry that will only be solved on the office.
One interesting fact about Travelport Mobile Agent according to its creators is that it had a huge impact on both the professional productivity but also on the personal side of the users. It was so big of an impact that a few years ago, they collected some of the experiences shared by the users and made a song. It’s called 'Now I have my GDS' and is freely available on video and mp3. Watch it here.
Being able to go mobile is an advantage you can grasp easily over your competitors and set yourself apart with minimal effort and maximum gain. The millennial market is only now beginning to be tapped, and being able to meet them where they are will give you a chance to gain new clients that will be loyal for years to come. Solutions like Travelport Mobile Agent can be your best ally in this new venture with its compatibility and usefulness, improving travel agents’ lives and making sure they can meet the demands of this ever-changing world.