Tim Eijssens—a Commercial Owner on our Travel Agents Team—spent his day as a travel agent. He shares his main takeaways below:
I recently moved to our Travel Agents Team – a team whose aim is to build a full B2B service for Travel Agents. This area of the business is completely new to me. I have worked in hotels and global chains, but never at an actual brick-and-mortar travel agency. Until last week, when I had the opportunity to do just that.
More and more frequently, bookers already know what they want.
Nowadays, it’s really easy to search and compare accommodations online. What I noticed with incoming travel requests is that in most cases, the traveler has already found accommodations and is looking to get feedback on what would best match their budget. Having an experienced agent handling bookings and providing service when needed is what bookers seek from an agency.
Handling bookings still requires a lot of manual work.
Handling bookings all the way from a request to a confirmation takes a lot of manual steps – from personal contact with the booker and looking at specific needs, to searching and comparing the right flight and accommodations, or booking and sending customized confirmations. Looking at process optimizations, I believe there is plenty of room for improvement so that travel agents can fully focus on the core of their business – which is all about providing personal service.
Making decisions about where to search and book is not so straightforward.
I knew that travel agents had their preferred platforms and suppliers for either usability, speed, the right supply, or financial return. So I somewhat assumed that for every specific search, certain suppliers would be primarily used. Surprisingly, searches actually happen on a variety of platforms to compare prices and availability. Making a decision as to where to book could eventually be a preferred supplier, but it all starts with a broad search.
Arranging travel for business or leisure is completely different – but really, completely different.
What I noticed is that bookings for business purposes are more concrete. Travel advice is more about location and budget, instead of personal needs. In addition, contact with business bookers is more focused on transactions and requires speed and clarity. Travel for leisure is more about finding the right type of destination, travel and accommodations. I can imagine that as an agent, this is where you really apply your deep destination knowledge.
Overall, this field trip gave me a lot of insight into the work of travel agents and their needs. But several of my questions have yet to be answered. And that’s the most exciting part – there’s still so much more to learn.
Join Tim as a Commercial Owner if you are as passionate about bringing great travel products to the market.