In the first of a new exclusive feature, Traveltek chief commercial officer Cressida Sergeant explains the benefits of getting on board with new technology.
Cruise technology is the most unsexy part of the industry. For suppliers and agents, it’s like spending money on guttering. To use the decorating analogy, your marketing is your wallpaper and internal décor.
You can, of course, keep spending more on décor and ignore the guttering. However, when the guttering leaks you have a real problem.
When you put your technology on a list of cost and importance, it might be near the bottom, but I can assure you when Traveltek suffers (a thankfully, rare) outage, I hear from our clients within minutes. Tech is the life blood of any travel business and if it isn’t, it should be.
Cruise line technology has greatly improved in the last few years and there is more to come very soon. Most people I speak to still seem apprehensive learning about technology, but never be afraid to ask questions.
We really need to do a better job of educating our industry on the benefits of technology and how it can bring value to many travel agents.
In the tech world we are bad for acronyms and expecting people to understand what they mean, so let’s start making this easier for agents. If you are still using spreadsheets and paper documentation, it is time to address this. Investment in simple systems and improving your basic workflows could really save you time.
Technology to make life easier
Some of the things worth considering include thinking about your search and book technology. The benefit of this is having an aggregated search for all cruise lines rather than going into individual systems.
This search is driven by an API – or application programming interface to you and I – which is essentially a clever way for two or more software systems to talk to each other.
An API allows the cruise line to pass their data through a technology provider and display this on a customer website or booking tool, to display price and content. A bookable API will also help you transact this booking online. You may want to invest in a CRM (customer relationship management) system, and there are plenty on the market to choose from.
Your CRM choice will depend on a number of things, such as the attributes and benefits you are looking for and of course the budget you have to spend.
For agents struggling under the workload of admin, you should investigate RPA (robotic process automation) as a possible solution. RPA uses artificial intelligence, which means you have a robot worker that you train to do repetitive tasks.
This could be matching finance invoices, or automating booking documentation, and this is available today with many cruise lines.
Although this may seem an investment, a robot doesn’t take a holiday, get sick or resign after six months, just as you have trained them up. The RPA also allows you to scale up effectively. So, it might be unsexy, but it’s worth it.
- Think about your business processes and add technology to achieve efficiency and scale
- If you have a question, ask it – there is no such thing as a stupid question
- Technology doesn’t have to be expensive and can be done in modules. Think about your biggest pain point first and start from there