Travel is not merely an industry, it is an emotion, it is a feeling, and, just like any deep emotion or feeling, people takes it slow and easy and lets it seep in. This is why travel is associated with leisure. There is no hurry. There is no immediate deadline to be met. Or, so, it has been till recent past.
The last couple of decades witnessed major changes and shifting of the paradigm in the travel industry. The urgency with which changes took place and the speed of delivery of service that is being aimed at in the travel and tourism industry is anything but leisurely.
Technological advancement restating priorities in travel and tourism industry
Ever since the introduction of Internet access to information across the globe has become easier. It has also become highly affordable across the world. However, a major change came with the introduction of the Smartphone. The handheld device with the power and functionality of a mini computer made it possible for information to be mobile as well.
Today, a person looking for flight tickets simply needs to log into any one of the travel planning websites and access the airline reservation system. A few clicks later he/she will have the ticket confirmed. Similar is the case with various hotel reservation systems. This convenience and mobility have transformed user experience. A mobile application is able to perform the job of travel agents. Thus, faster response time and better customer service have become priorities for the travel agencies.
Disruptive forces are gathering momentum
While some will state these as disruptive forces, others might see them as stronger competitors. Whatever be it, fact remains that the travel booking software is a major threat to the traditional travel agencies. The past 20 years saw a decline of 50% in the number of bookings happening through the travel agencies. The reason is the availability of online travel booking software that transformed the way booking of flight tickets and hotel reservations are made.
While the internet indeed played as a disruptive force threatening the business of the travel agencies, the next big threat came in the form of the Smartphone. Allowing people from across the globe access to the Internet on the go, the Smartphone has opened up the horizon that was not presumed to be possible earlier.
Today people can access the airline booking system directly with the help of a mobile based application. The process is faster, more secured and simpler. Most importantly, it is accessible by a vast majority traveling via airlines, if not all.
The tourism industry is looking at a boom that is unprecedented. Yet, there are a fast declining number of people opting for the travel agents for the purpose of reservation of travel and accommodation, a key component in the tourism service segment. The force that has been gaining momentum is both constructive as well as destructive. It is a time the tourism industry take note and make arrangement to harbor the positives of the force for their own benefit.
Wielding the force
In the past decade, the travel agencies are trying to cope up with the challenge being presented, first by the Internet and thereafter by the Smartphone providing greater access to the Internet. Rising popularity of travel software for tour operators is certainly a sign that the travel agencies are restructuring themselves, and that too at a fast pace.
Today most of the major travel agencies have their very own mobile applications. Mobile applications not only allow a better and greater reach and penetration but also important insights into the needs and wants of the users. Thus allows the creation of customized deals and providing promotional offers best suiting the needs of an individual.
As a tourist, with all the available features via the mobile application ad web-based portals, we will always wish to receive personalized service and best customer support. This can only be guaranteed through the integration of information technology with the existing services provided by the travel agencies. And, if the recent trend is to be believed, the travel agencies are certainly heading that way.
A road yet to be built and traversed
Even though the initiative has been taken and change is occurring, the road is yet to be built. Personalized travel agency software is the need of the hour. It must be able to handle the requests of the tourists and make special arrangements as per requirement and availability. While technology is progressing at a fast pace, human intervention still holds good. There is a reason why 70% of the total tourists still rely on travel agents for taking care of their travel planning. There are areas where human intervention will get the better result as compared to an automated system.
Functioning of the leisure industry isn’t leisurely anymore. The travel industry is in the fast lane and unless they continue to keep gearing up, they will fall behind once big data makes it possible for automated systems to be as competent as human agents.
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