Showing posts with label Travel Technology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travel Technology. Show all posts

1. Online Booking Behavior

  • 59% of Asian leisure travelers want to book travel products “whenever they can” and “wherever they can”
2. Travelers Reviews

  • 95% of respondents read reviews before to booking.
  • Leisure travelers read an average of 6-7 reviews before booking;business travelers read an average of 5.
  • Leisure travelers spend an average of 30 minutes reading reviews before booking; 10% of travelers spend more than one hour reading reviews.
  • 70% of travelers look at up to 20 reviews in the planning phase.
  • At the end of February 2014, TripAdvisor has 150 million reviews – this is a 50% increase year-on-year, with around 50 million added during 2013. This works out to 90 reviews submitted every minute!
3. Social Media

  •  71% of Asian leisure travelers consider personal recommendations for a trip “very important” in the decision-making process.
  • 50% of travel companies have said that direct bookings have been generated from social media.
  • Holiday pictures are the most shared content on and after vacation.
  •  34% of Asian leisure travelers are actively looking for social recommendations and feedback on ideas via social networks such as Facebook and TripAdvisor.
  • 42% of stories shared to users’ Facebook timelines in 2012 were travel experiences, making it the top story being shared by users.
4. Video

  • 44% of Asian leisure travelers are watching videos about a destination during the research phase.
The report is available here at

The study was conducted using an online survey panel of 510 travelers, all of whom traveled during the last 12 months for leisure, business, or both. Respondents were evaluated two different presentations of reviews and described their user experience with each, rating their confidence level in making a booking decision.

About Moxiter

Moxiter provides a travel technology to help DMCs, Tour operators and Travel agents grow their businesses and connect with the world making it simple, fast and incredibly efficient to run your back-office and operations, handle payments, manage contracts, dynamically create vacation packages and itineraries, distribute inventory globally and operate a direct-to-consumer online booking site.

Try our Moxiter Software: Signup Moxiter Trial

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Adopt Modern Technology to scale your Travel Business

   You have a successful business and except for the finer day to day challenges, there are not many glitches in operating you travel business. But have you thought how much you have scaled your till now and how that has impacted your revenue growth. How much more business are you doing compared to the last season. How good a competitor you are, when compared to your peers and other online set ups. Do you empathise with the bandwagon that is vocal about how advent of OTA’s has impacted their travel business and how a large portion of travel queries are from 'window-shoppers' for comparing quotes from online players?

If you are thinking now, it would be better to start thinking about a technology support that can be the back-bone of your travel business. Every operator is unique and so are their needs and business models. The functional areas differ from B2B to B2C; from operators selling Hotels to packages to airline ticket. So the system that you choose for yourself should be unique and best suited to your business model.

When I say 'go online', the first thing coming to your mind would be a website that featuring all the travel products that you serve but is that all you need? No, you need something much broader, much better and something that understands your business as good as you. Bring yourself to the stage where modern world sees you as artists/designer of travel dreams versus petty booking agents. And the secret sauce for that is a robust modern travel technology that helps you manage your contracted inventories, suppliers, external agents and your customer’s requirements. Considering various factors and benefits and several face to face discussion with tour operators, I'm summarising a few pre-requisites for a similar solution for your travel business outlook:

  • Adaptability
  • Scalability and Flexibility
  • Security
  • Costing
  • Support availability 
Adaptability – The Travel Technology Solution for one, should be highly adaptable and should require minimum infrastructure at your end. Cloud based or SAAS should be the first priority for any small and medium sized operator. This needs minimum infrastructure and upgrades are done automatically with minimal downtime. Also consider the time taken for training and adaptability of the system by your existing employees.

Scalability and Flexibility - The one reason for adopting a system is to scale your business. Is the software compatible for the new requirements as business grows? You may choose an indigenous system that meets your immediate requirements, but would you bet on it 3 years down the line against this highly competitive market? Will the system be capable of carrying out the desired operations? Make sure to choose the system that is created by experts and gets upgraded according to the needs of the hour.

Security - How secure is your software stack. You know as a travel agent or operator how many years of hard work and relationship building went in getting those contracted rates. Do you think the data is stored in a hacker-proof server leaving no loop holes for any unwanted events. Make sure that the system provider guarantees the best security and data backup options.

Costing - The most important question lies here - What is the ROI or return of investment if I adopt a system? The system should not burn a hole in your pocket and should be capable enough to meet all the requirements without creating an immediate financial burden and should give options to scale feature wise as your operations grow.

Support - You really do not want to wait for a day for someone to come and fix the system while you miss on prospective business. The support should be round the clock and you should have a rep at your beck and call to make sure you do not get stuck listening to IVR melodies.

The system that you choose should not be aimed at changing your strategies or shift you from your current style of business. It should help you in betterment of your existing process and help you streamline your operations to a high profitivity level. It should be scalable and must have 24x7 support from the supplier.

Travel Technology Outlook 2015

Travel industry is changing drastically with the advent of travel technology. For the last few years, it has established a niche platform for the travel operators and assists them to enrich their efficiency with relevant products and services and thereby enhance their business performance. Travel technology outlook in the year 2015 can be regarded as the prospective tool for the travel industry.

If you are one of those tour operators who wants to get par with technology then you must try to focus on the following tech trends:

1) Travel metasearch: With the expansion of online travel booking there is an increase in customer search layer and marketing funnel. Online Travel Agents can be benefitted by Travel Metasearch, which will help them to invest in cost per click to divert customer bookings to their own websites. Travel metasearch has achieved growth in 2014 with an expected growth in 2015.

  • It has been analysed that whoever has the best skill to convert clicks to bookings will have greater capacity to outstrip the other competitors.
  • Travel metasearch can maintain an outstanding relationship with the OTA partners. Its technology enables them to sell more inventory than anyone else through its dynamic pooled inventory distribution design.
  • Seeking the benefits of travel metasearch, Priceline, Expedia, Trivago and Kayak have invested in meta-search channels.
  • Travel meta-search provides opportunity for direct booking in contrast to online search by large online travel agents which is often considered as “battle for eyeballs.”
  • Its results, in improving the customer experience and conversion rates.

2) Email marketing: As the number of e-mail users is increasing globally, so it has created platforms for the marketers to fully implement e-mail targeting and personalization strategies. Success in the e-mail marketing space is dependent upon the quality of the content.

The E-consultancy email census report of 2014 projects 20%, 22% and 24% of dealers, has identified three important points to focus on this year by 2015.

  • Analytics.
  • Specific data quality and
  • Distribute appropriate communications.

3) Social Media: People realized that social media like Facebook, Twitter etc. serves as a business and marketing channel in recent times.

Social media is a channel where consumers are the king. They are located in the opening, central and the last part of the purchase path.
  • Promoting products with a team made up of social media and digital marketing members can optimize your advertising cost through targeting millions of brands on a Facebook Page.

4) Mobile Booking: Mobile travel bookings are projected to rise across the world. One of the largest segments of e-ticketing through e- mobile booking is expected to see a flow in 2015.
  • According to a consulting firm, in the year 2015, the US is projected to comprise one quarter of the online travel market as it advances from just 2 % in 2011.
  • Asia Pacific marks more than 20 % of travel bookings made on a mobile device along with Brazil and Germany which is less than 10 %.
  • On a global basis, mobile bookings are growing faster than desktop booking that ensures 20 % against 2 % over the first six months of 2014.
  • Smartphones and tablets account for 21 % of hotel bookings, while a peer-to-peer apartment rental is the category with highest mobile penetration of 34 % globally.

5) Google Glass: Despite of the fact that technology in its current form is trolling consumers the airport truly seems excited to be using Google Glass. The airport authority created an app that allows the Google Glass wearer to quickly call up flight information according to the gate rather than call to report.

Though it may sound magical to you but it’s true.
  • Glass was being deployed around the airport and on the runway, being used to both track the passenger’s journey through the terminal and for getting information to operations folks on the ground.
  • The use of glass worked for the airport that made information efficiency and it will certainly help other sectors of the travel industry to set free ground resources in the coming years.
Conclusion: Travel technology will undoubtedly carve out a niche for itself in specialized global travel market in 2015.It will certainly trigger the individual DMC to incorporate the ultimate technology trend to expand business in this competitive era.

Online payment options for Destination Management Company

You have a thriving travel business and have also setup your online presence? Great! It must be heart-warming to see queries coming in magically through your website. The next thing to do is setup a way to accept online payments from your clients. If you are new to travel technology, you could leave this to experts ( or try it on your own. In either case it is only better to have some know-how of it before taking the plunge. 

There may be many questions, in your mind, about the various online payment solutions and you need to analyse clearly on what would be the best payment option for you. As per reports, website s having more than four payment options are likely to have higher sales figure by 12% as compared to those offering only one. This means multiple payment options can enhance more online payment processing and in return mullah for you.

Following are the keys to identify the right online payment solution:

  • Merchant account: Setting a merchant account is the first step towards receiving payments. Merchant account is a bank account that allows a customer to receive payment through credit and debit card.
  • Payment gateway: Payment gateway is a processor which helps in secured transaction of credit card information between the merchant and the customer and also between the merchant and the payment processor.
  • Payment processor: This processor assures secured information and anti-fraud measures between the customer and the merchant.
  • PCI compliance: Payment mode is set in such a way that meets the rules and regulations as per Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).
  • ACH payments: It must have ACH (Automated Clearing House) payments options to support electronic credit and debit transfers, allowing customers for transaction through bank accounts for any type of bill or purchase.

Following are the global leaders of online payment solutions.

PayPal: PayPal is considered as the most popular payment options, processing about 11.5 million payments per day in recent times. It’s a secured digital payment revolution processing with 162 million active wallets and which are available in 203 markets. PayPal gives people better ways to connect with their money. It offers an easy solution to send money without sharing financial information and with the flexibility to pay using their PayPal account balances, bank accounts, PayPal Credit and credit cards. It allows customers to get paid in more than 100 currencies, withdraw funds to their bank accounts in 57 currencies and hold balances in their PayPal accounts in 26 currencies.
Fee: PayPal takes 2.9% and $0.30 per-transaction and has no setup or monthly fees.

Dwolla:  This new online payment option is the competitor to PayPal. It has common features like the PayPal. Recently, it has supported payments to over $ 1 million per day.

Fee: There are no transaction charges less than$10 but it charges$0.25 over $10.

Google Wallet:  Google wallet is the new name for Google Checkout. It is regarded as the updated mode of payment option to send and receive money.

In competition with Paypal, Google introduced Google wallet as online payment solution. Google wallet permits users for safe, simple and has quick transfer to and from your bank account. The options like credit card processing and the ability to send out invoices are the common features of google wallet and PayPal.
Fee: Google Wallet/checkout fees start at 2.9% and $0.30 per transaction for sales less than $3,000. The percentage they charge depends on their monthly sales volume.

WePay:  This is a payment processor which assists internet users and merchants to accept online payments with credit cards and bank account. WePay is also trying to focus on specific user with their newly added e-store page tool and help customers to take payments conveniently.
Fee: WePay charges a 2.9% transaction fee (with a $0.50 minimum) for credit card transactions and $0.30 for bank payments. It does not have any setup or monthly costs.

Authorize.Net: This is one of the popular payment gateways with over 300,000 merchants on its site who utilizes Authorize.Net to accept payment. It is one of the common payment modes for e- commerce website and also the travel portal. For five consecutive years, it has seized the Achievement in Customer Excellence (ACE) award.
Fee: It takes a $0.10 per transaction fee.Authorize.Net has a $99 setup fee and monthly costs of $20.

Amazon Payments

Amazon Payments permit its consumers to receive money using its API (and to send money out via ACH). These days the entire popular crowd funding site uses Amazon payments as their online payment option.
Fee: Amazon payments fees start at 2.9% and $0.30 per transaction for payments over $10.The fee is 5.0% and $0.05 per-transaction for $0.10 per transaction fee.

Stripe:  Stripe is one more payment solution that acts as a merchant account for its providers, helps in handling all PCI compliance and merchant approvals. It provides an excellent payment solution for web developers who would like to integrate a payment system into their projects utilizing Stripe’s robust API.
Fee: Stripe fee is 2.9% and $0.30 per transaction with no setup or monthly fees.

Braintree: It is a popular online payment options because of its features to handle global payment, as well as payment gateway, merchant account, credit card processor and mobile payment processor. It also supports ACH payments and can be used as a payroll system.
Fee: Braintree fee is 2.9% and $0.30 per transaction for qualified cards. There is no set-up or monthly fees.
ProPay offers similar features like PayPal. It has the capacity to receive and send money anywhere in the world and can generate recurring billing and a built-in shopping cart. The added advantage that ProPay has over the others is that it is also accepted by eBay and it can process credit and debit cards on your iOS or Android phones.

A key thing to note is that these global players might not be present in all countries and you will have to check for that beforehand. Through the above information, I have tried to give you a basic familiarity with terminology and various options available in payment industry. If you are going to make a decision soon, I would recommend a detailed discussion with some expert on available payment options in your country.

How to distribute Travel Inventory online?

Today travel operators, big or small, have a desire to move their business online. They know online distribution is the fastest way to sell inventory. It also allows to have direct connectivity with global suppliers. This blog post is lesson 101 on distributing your inventory online.

Following are the steps through which tour operators can sell online -

Step 1 : Get Cloud based Reservation System: Cloud based inventory management systems are on on-demand web-based software applications for travel management companies that allows them to better manage their inventory contracts. Most of the reputed systems, like moxiter, allow you to manage each of your travel products (hotels, transfers, tickets, cruise, etc)
    1. Easy to Adopt.
    2. Access from anywhere.
    3. Save time on rate calculation.
    4. Tracking inventory in real-time.

Step 2 : Digitize contracted rates: Travel agencies have contracted rates for their business which is mostly in PDF format. Once you have got the inventory management system, its time to digitize the contracts that you have with various suppliers. This is the most important step, as you must ensure that the staff responsible for feeding contracts is well-trained for the system and makes absolutely zero error. Going with the optional service of contract-feeding offered by your system provider is recommended.

Step 3: Invite your agent network: With contracts fed and system in-place, its time to get your business online. Invite your agents to try your brand new online reservation system. Travel agents are generally hesitant to change the way of doing business so you will have to clearly outline how it would benefit them.
    1. Receive orders via your site.
    2. Process through your supplier directly.
    3. Efficiently control and manage the system.

Recommended way is to start by inviting 5-10 agents who you have good relations with. Remember that every reservation system needs to be customized according to your business processes and now is the time when you need to get that done. Once satisfied, invite all your travel agents, sit back and relax!

Step 4 : Channel Managers: Your existing business has moved online. Great, now you will reap rewards of efficient operations and short turnaround time. But where is increased direct business? You have a digitized inventory, that is a goldmine you are sitting on. Time to look out for proper channels to sell more or generate new leads. For a B2B Company it is important to channelize inventory through XML, APIs, agent booking tools and also white-label travel booking engine. Options at hand are aggregators and OTAs which come in handy at this point to forge partnerships in geographies you have not existed before.

Step 5 : [optional] B2C website: Your B2B business is soaring and this step is optional. In my interactions with over 150 DMCs, only few have wanted to get into B2C because greater profit-margins come at greater cost. But if you are ambitious and want to have a of your own, here is what you need to do. Get a nice looking B2C website up and running with all the payment options configured. You need to keep in mind that direct customer needs are to be handled with finesse.

I hope you enjoyed reading this. If you have any questions or want to share your experience of moving your business online please drop a comment below.

When should you upgrade your Travel technology platform

Got a minute? Think about the speed at which technology is changing around you. Last year's gadgets already need replacement. Your cherished photographs and videos now appear 'blurry'. When you are running a business and are answerable to a lot of people, you need to be on top of this change. Any one of these can be detrimental to your yearly plans. Within a short span the technology you use for your travel business can become outdated or it somehow fails to cater to your requirements. Well, that should be a good reminder that you have to upgrade your technology infrastructure. It is a challenging job to look for loopholes in your current IT system but here are a few checkpoints for evaluating your tech platform.

Responsive design: Is your company website built on principles of Responsive design? It allows designers and developers to create website that can accommodate a variety of screen size, panning, scrolling and easy navigation. If you are unable to update any of the cited features then you should upgrade your platform because-
  • With the extensive use of smart phones and tablets in recent times, it has become mandatory to use responsive design to project your website and its service on all screen size. 
  • To attract user’s attention you need to implement responsive philosophy where you can create an ideal path for them to follow. 
  • It is easy to gather information on what device is being used for browsing or the visiting time of the day, their location and their visits how long they’ve been on the site. 

Mobile strategy: Mobile has become an integral part of the travel industry. There is a massive growth of mobile device. It is projected that the total number of people using 'apps' on mobiles is going to surpass desktop and laptop by 2015. Things to keep in mind -
  • Out of every five smartphone users two will definitely use their mobile device to make a purchase. 
  • Mobile users want organized information as per their requirement. Without a dedicated mobile app, its not going to happen.

Day Room Booking: Normally customers plan a trip and look for night stay but the scenario has changed to day room booking for the recent time. This concept of day room is very popular within European and American countries where as this concept is in the early stage in Asian countries. You can upgrade your system to support day room booking as this concept can generate more sales for you because-
  • Day room booking is meant for transit customers. 
  • Meant for customers waiting for connecting flights and refreshing. 
  • Meant for Executive meetings - a new MICE segment?. 
  • No booking fees and also you don’t have to pay the tariff for the entire day. 

Booking segmentation: Booking segregation is increasing as an important tool for the travel platform where you have to opt for individual count and the number of days of the vacation. Here children’s age segregation plays a pivotal role on the charges of the booking in the travel portals. If your system is unable to provide lower charges to children then you need to upgrade. Segregation of booking charges is important because children below 5 years are not charged whereas children in the age group of 5 to 10 are charged full or half that differ with the individual company rules and regulation.

The future of the travel industry will flourish with the drastic changes in technology. So simply by redesigning your website and better browsing will help you to an extent but you need a consistent technology upgradation process to compete online. You will also have to adapt the latest in travel technology just to keep the ensure the current business growth and its about time that you incorporate this in your company policy. The best way would be to go for a SaaS travel software platform (like which ensures that you are always ahead of the curve and ready to run with the latest travel technology.
"Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a system for managing a company’s interactions with current and future customers." - Wiki definition. Most of us know what exactly a CRM is. Then why did I repeat it? To emphasize on the word in bold - customers.

As a Travel Business stakeholder, your primary concern is having a universal set of happy & satisfied customers and multiplying that set manifolds over a short period of time. A good CRM system is the first step in that direction.

For Travel businesses, it is a very pertinent question - "When does a company need a CRM"? Very often the question is on the validity of the following hierarchy-
  1. Leads 
  2. Customers and 
  3. CRM System
Which of these should come first? Traditional wisdom would suggest the sequence as outlined above but, traditional businesses are finding it hard to grow fast these days. It is becoming increasingly tough when faced with competition from multiple sales channels. 

For any organisation, a CRM system should always come first. Any lead that you miss without a CRM, is more than just a single customer that you missed; It translates into a habit and results in un-recorded losses. 

Complexity doesn't mean profitability

Often when business stakeholders say "Spreadsheets are good enough for us", they fail to account for this -
Spreadsheets are fine only till your business has reached a certain threshold.
When a Travel Business is being setup and has just started to grow, it is the perfect time to try out multiple CRM alternatives. When the business volumes start going up, it becomes increasingly difficult to change your business processes. Your commitment to client engagement starts from day one. 

If you have relied on spreadsheets till now, it's time you start measuring -
  • Number of leads generated per month
  • Paying Clients/Leads ratio
  • Growth of leads month-on-month
The numbers don't lie. If the numbers are stable and growth hard to come by, then you have missed out on converting more leads into paying customers. Spreadsheets have cost you dearly.

Cost is a very important consideration for growing Travel Businesses. Thankfully, technology has grown faster and is now more affordable. Gone are the days of complex software installations and associated high maintenance costs. With cloud technology, we now have software being offered as a Service (SaaS model). For starters, the software is hosted on the cloud and all you need as a buyer is internet connectivity. What is in it for your business?
  • Plug & Play - zero installation time
  • Lower setup & maintenance costs
  • Automatic updates

Bottom Line
"Spreadsheets are not tools for client engagement". Depending solely on spreadsheets does more harm than any good over a period of time. Travel Businesses should look at CRMs as an important investment in client engagement.
Becoming a market leader requires selling more of your inventory without the added burden of costs. Right Technology is the key here.

Hit the sweetspot

For any Travel Business, be it a traditional or a start-up, it is imperative to identify their strengths. In these days of "best deals", when everything is available online, Travel Companies are facing the squeeze from their suppliers as well as customers. As a business owner, you aim to sell more month-on-month but how? 

Know your Business
Identify your key targets over the next 3-5 years. Software requirements are different for Tour Operators and Destination Management Companies form those of Travel Agents. It becomes more complex if your business is a hybrid. 
  • Destination Management Company(DMC)/Inbound Tour Operator(ITO) 
    Traditional sales channels, if not saturated, are yielding limited growth opportunities. Following pointers should help you decide the best software for your business:
            Q1.   Do you have your own proprietary inventory contracts?

              Q2.   Do you need to serve a network of agents/clients from your office? 
                Q3.   Do you want to sell more via different channels?

          Following are the answers to the questions above :
          1. A Contract Management System (CMS) that gives you the following
            • Digitized Contracts
            • Up-to-date room rates
            • Ready for direct distribution
          2. Back-office automation system to do the following:
            • Instant Quotations/sales for all requests
            • Serve more requests with the same staff numbers
            • Create packages faster than ever before
          3. You need to harness the power of XMLs
            • Use proprietary XMLs to sell more 
        • Travel Agency
          Traditional sales channels, if not saturated, are yielding limited growth opportunities. Following pointers should help you decide the best software for your business:
                  Q1. Are spreadsheets failing to manage your reservations as volumes go up?

                 Q2. Is your inventory management good enough?

                 Q3. Can you create quick offers/deals & market them fast?

                Following are the answers to these questions:
          1. You need a Reservation Management System
            • Bookings & reservation details available at a click
            • Online access from anywhere
            • Track payments without errors of omission and commission.
          2. Get an online Inventory Management System
            • Online management of multiple supplier contracts (rates, rules & clauses)
            • Manage your allotments and avoid overbooking
            • Track your best sellers for smart contracting
          3. You would need a Quick Package Builder that:
            • Pushes the packages created on your website
            • Allows you to market the same to your partners & clients

        Convert more leads into paying customers
        Regardless of whatever Business you are in, it pays to invest in a tool that helps you convert more leads into paying clients. You need a Customer Relationship Management(CRM) system that helps you attain the following:
            • Auto lead generation from e-mails, your website & social media
            • Track followups and staff efficiency
            • Smart reports to improve your business processes

        Getting your technology requirements correct is the first step towards future growth. Businesses often tend to believe that the current setup is working great and spreadsheets are good enough for their business. But, one should pay attention to this:

        Spreadsheets work great only till the time a business breaks a certain threshold.

        Up next:
        CRM v/s Spreadsheets