How small and mid-sized travel agencies can combat large OTAs
While most small and mid-sized travel businesses face tremendous challenges from large OTAs that have built a huge customer base over the last decade or so, they can turn the game on its head by combining the ease of online booking along with the personalization and client care of a bricks and mortar office to their customers.
At a time when many online travel agencies are opening offline stores to boost their revenues, small and mid sized travel agencies can give them a run for their money by offering and marketing their services online, in addition to providing stellar service offline.
Being small in size, they have the agility to quickly adapt to newer technologies in their business. This is the age where businesses are not just rapidly getting online but they are adapting themselves to the ‘mobile first’ concept.
Those travel businesses which fail to embrace online marketing and sales in their day to day activities by using a powerful travel agency software and investing time and effort in digital marketing channels like Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter stand to lose big time. In fact, there are many advantages of being present on both the channels.
Benefits of having an Online Travel Portal:
- Reduced Costs: When you have an efficient software at hand that can automate almost all of your day-to-day activities like bookings, quotation building, accounting, etc. you will need lesser manpower, thus reducing your operational cost.
- Efficiency: The time taken to complete routine tasks is reduced considerably in terms of the man hours involved thus improving efficiency. This back end support will help you improve your productivity by leaps and bounds and will help you focus on your core tasks.
- Visibility: With an online booking portal and good marketing and SEO you can improve your online visibility, maximize your bookings and build a larger customer base.
- Convenience: With a cloud-based online booking system, you can work from anywhere. So even if you are out of office, be it on a holiday or a business trip abroad, you can just log into the system on your laptop/mobile and access all your bookings, inventory and agent reports to stay on top of your business. Moreover, your customers also have an access to your website from anywhere in the world and at any time. The more convenient you make it for your customers the more loyalty and business you can expect from them.
While going online is a must for any travel business today, they must not undermine the importance of a physical presence.
Some of the benefits of having a physical retail office are:
- Personalization: Customized services is something that you specialize in and that separates you from large OTAs. Make the most of this opportunity and offer attractive packages to your customers based on their preferences and past buying behavior. You are there in person to solve the problems and queries of your customers and help them with their itinerary planning.
- Customer Loyalty: You already have a loyal customer base and with an online booking portal, your existing customers can use your services 24×7. It is a general notion that people find it difficult to switch to different things if they get comfortable with a certain way of living. You can capitalize on this fact and make the travel booking experience of your customers better by giving them an online access.
- Accountability: The fact that you are accountable and will take care of any glitches when the customers need you while booking online, or facing any other problem makes them feel comfortable with your services.
The fact that you offer customized services is the cherry on the cake. You can advertise your packages on your website and tap into a large pool of potential customers. You already have expertise in the travel industry, which will help you offer quick and agile services because people now prefer instant bookings and don’t like to wait for hours and days to get a quotation and booking confirmation.
Thus, you can see that there are numerous benefits of investing in an online business portal . By partnering with an experienced Travel Solutions provider like TravelCarma, you can compete with large OTAs and survive in this highly competitive travel industry using our suite of online booking solutions.
In this era when a lot of people, particularly the millennials, prefer DIY travel services over fixed packages, allowing your customers to build their own trips through your online portal will surely get you a better business and a better ROI.
If they have any queries and issues, or require any guidance regarding their itinerary, they can always approach you via phone calls or in person. This is something that will give you an edge over large corporations and will help you withstand competition from them, even with relatively low investments.