Essential Software Tools every Travel Agency should Use
If you’re still relying on spreadsheets and outdated tools (or worse, pen-and-paper!) to manage your travel agency, it’s time to upgrade! There are a plethora of wonderful tech tools out there that can help you simplify operations, increase your productivity and elevate your customer experience.
In this article, we have curated a list of the must-have tools for your agency to effectively manage different areas of your business.
Online Booking Platform
With the rise in online bookings over the last few years (a trend that will intensify post-COVID), it’s important for agencies to invest in an online booking engine to enable your clients to book your live inventory on your website. Here’s what we recommend:
Emperia is a leading booking platform allowing travel agencies to sell their live inventory to B2C customers and B2B agents under their own brand online. It’s ideal for agencies that have their own inventory, as it allows you to integrate all your third-party XML suppliers to provide aggregated content for flights, hotels, activities, and ground transportation on your website. You can also manage and sell your own contracts for hotels, activities, fixed tours, and car rentals on the same platform.
It includes a powerful back-office module to help you manage rates, allocations, promotions, customers, downline agents, accounting reconciliation, and get detailed business reports. Emperia supports multiple languages and currencies.
Price: From $999 (Special offer for COVID)
White Label Solutions
If you do not have your own inventory of flights, hotels or other services, you can go for a white label solution to sell travel services to B2C customers online. The downside of white labels is that the customer is redirected to the OTA/White label provider’s website for booking, and you have no control over the pricing, look-and-feel or the features. The vouchers and tickets don’t carry your branding. Also, you are limited to selling to B2C clients as this option isn’t suitable if you have sub-agents. With that in mind, here are the options we recommend:
Smaller agents that do not have access to hotel inventory via APIs or direct contracts can join Booking.com’s Hotel Affiliate Program to sell hotel rooms on their website.
By integrating booking.com’s search widget into your website, you will be able to allow your customers to search from over 2.5 million properties and you can earn a favorable commission on every booking.
TBO is a great option for small agents in the Indian Subcontinent, allowing them to sell TBO’s inventory of hotels, flights, holidays, and bus on their own website at competitive prices.
Agents have the freedom to choose all or selected products to be integrated into their portal. TBO also provides reporting to help agents track bookings, sales, performance, and other data.
Travelpayouts is another popular option for small/home-based agents looking to sell flights and hotels through their website. The white label widget can be easily integrated into the agent website and visitors will be able to search live inventory on the site itself, before being redirected for booking.
Travelpayouts provides all the details and how-to-guides agents need for registration and installation in the knowledge base section of their site.
If you thought the only purpose of a CRM is to keep track of customers’ birthdays, think again! CRM is an essential tool that helps you personalize your services and makes it extremely easy to manage your inquiries, leads, and clients in one place. Here are our top recommendations in this category:
With over 150,000 users, Zoho has grown into a mature and extremely popular platform for companies of all shapes and sizes. Zoho’s CRM has all the standard features you need to manage your sales pipeline and engage with your customers.
It also has some great features to make remote working under the current circumstances easier, such as online meetings and webinars for prospects & clients, an interface to collaborate with your internal team for status updates and discussions, as well as mobile-enabled conversational AI that provides you smart lead and deal predictions.
Cost: From $12/user/month
HubSpot is another popular CRM, with over 78,000 customers in more than 120 countries, including travel brands like TUI and Flight Center. It has a clean, user-friendly interface to simplify contact, deal & task management, document sharing, in-app calling, meeting scheduling etc.
It also has several in-built email templates with email tracking and automation. The great thing about HubSpot is the ability to start free with basic features, and upgrade to higher paid plans as your business grows.
Cost: Free to start with
Designed mainly for small and mid-sized businesses, Intuit Quickbooks is a fully web-based accounting tool that helps you manage all your business finances in one place.
It replaces spreadsheets and takes care of all your accounts receivable/payable, billing and invoicing, expense tracking, bank reconciliation, payroll, taxation management, reporting dashboards, and everything else you need from accounting software.
As it’s web-based it doesn’t need to be installed on your local PC, and can be managed from anywhere on web and mobile.
Price: From $12.50/user/month
FreshBooks is another popular accounting software targeted at self-employed professionals, small business owners and startups. It is also available on a monthly subscription, with different plans to suit different needs.
FreshBooks offers the usual accounting features such as invoicing, expense management, price quotes, bank reconciliation and reports. Additionally, it provides project management and time tracking based on client/project, which is not available in QuickBooks.
Price: From $7.50/user/month
Tour Building & Itinerary Management
If you sell FIT tours based on inquiries from your B2C clients and agents, you need a modern tool that helps you create and manage professional-looking customized itineraries/proposals with ease. Here’s what we recommend:
TourWiz is a cloud-based itinerary management tool that is designed to replace the use of spreadsheets and word documents to create content-rich itineraries and proposals with your own branding in minutes.
Unlike other solutions in the market, it gives you access to global content for flights, hotels, sightseeing and car rentals within the app, so you don’t have to waste time scanning multiple websites and manually cutting & pasting details onto excel sheets to prepare a quote/itinerary.
Once you select the items you want to add, the system automatically generates the complete itinerary/quote with photos that can be mailed to the client in one click. This way you can build proposals in a fraction of the time it would take you otherwise. Plus, all your itineraries/proposals are saved on the cloud and can be tracked and modified on any device from anywhere, anytime.
Pricing: Free trial available
Going live with your travel portal is just half the battle. You need to leverage digital marketing to build a strong digital presence that will help you maximize traffic, leads and customers. Here are some of the must-use tools we recommend for managing your online marketing efforts:
The online travel buying journey for most people begins with a Google search. Therefore, it’s important for you to analyze search trends to optimize your website and publish relevant content for SEO. Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest makes keyword research super easy and provides tons of useful insights for keywords related to your business and industry that you can use to optimize your on-page and off-page content.
You just need to enter a keyword, along with the search country, eg. “Goa honeymoon packages”, and search country, eg. India, and the tool will show you the search volume of that keyword, its SEO difficulty, paid search difficulty and cost-per-click if you want to run paid campaigns.
It even suggests keywords around the parent keyword that you can include in your content to rank for long-tail keywords, eg – “Goa honeymoon packages for 5 days, Goa honeymoon packages with flight” etc. (see screenshot below)
Price: From Free
Online travel is a battlefield, and it’s important to have intel on your key competitors to make sure you are two steps ahead of them. SEMrush is probably the best tool for doing that, providing you an in-depth look into your competitor’s online presence, including how much web traffic they get, how much of it organic and how much is paid, which keywords they rank for, their top backlinks and much more!
Price: From $83/user/month
An email marketing software is an essential tool for travel agencies to promote their services, keep customers engaged, and generate online bookings. Mailchimp is our recommendation for your email marketing needs, as it has everything you need, at an affordable price.
It offers tons of customizable templates with a drag-and-drop builder, a content studio, marketing automation, list management, and in-depth reporting analytics. It also provides landing pages in case you want to run any promotional campaigns.
Price: Free up to 2000 contacts
Managing your social media posts can get complicated, particularly if you actively post on multiple platforms. Buffer simplifies this by consolidating your social media accounts and allowing you to manage all the posts from one screen.
With Buffer, you can create posts, publish them immediately on social media accounts with a single click, or schedule them to be automatically published at a future time and date. You can also track the performance of all your posts based on metrics like impressions, clicks, likes, shares/retweets etc.
Price: Free up to 3 social accounts and 10 scheduled posts
Whether it’s email campaigns or social media posts, you need strong visuals to attract people’s attention. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t Pro designers. That’s why you need Canva – a Web-based design tool that allows you to create stunning visuals in just a few clicks.
With Canva you can design professional-looking ad banners, brochures, presentations, infographics and even branded videos for your travel agency that will grab your audience’s attention and drive more engagement.
Price: Free to start with
Other Useful Tools
If you book airline tickets for clients, SeatGuru is the best tool for seat selection, offering a much better seat selection interface than OTAs and in many cases even the airline’s own website. You just enter the flight no and it shows you a detailed aircraft seat map, color-coded to show good seats, bad seats, mixed reviews standard seat, be aware seat etc.
It also shows traveler reviews and photos and in-flight amenities (charging outlets, Wi-fi access etc). With this tool, you can match client preferences with what’s available in the aircraft to book the best seats for them!
There’s a lot of valuable flight-related data that is not available to agents through GDSs, OTAs, or even Airlines. FlightStats by Cirium is an extremely useful tool that provides a lot of information that is useful for both travelers and agents managing travel on behalf of clients.
This includes real-time flight tracking(on a map), historical flight status(on-time performance, terminal, gate and baggage, delay calculations, etc), airport conditions and delays, etc, airport performance report, etc.
This data can help you not only before booking flights for clients but also during the journey to track their flights and make in-trip flight and ground transportation amendments based on real-time data. This is particularly useful for TMCs and travel agents serving corporate clients where everything has to be meticulously planned and duty of care is essential.
Price: Free to start with
We hope you found this post useful. If you did, do subscribe to our blog to receive future posts right in your inbox! Are there any other tools you use for your agency that are worth including in this list? Do let us know in the comments below.
Here’s a quick recap of the tools mentioned in this post:
We provide a wide range of online solutions that can help you build itineraries and proposals, manage and distribute your inventory, take live bookings online, automate your back-office operations and much more. Visit our website to know more:VISIT OUR SITE