From producing engaging content to reducing paper waste, itinerary management software can have tangible benefits for agents. Andrew Doherty reports.
Gone are the days of relying on pen and paper or a Microsoft Excel document to plan clients’ holidays.
Itinerary management software offers a cost-effective, visually appealing and time-saving alternative, enabling agents to store customer details, personal recommendations and destination guides on their desktop or mobile device. If used correctly, itinerary apps can boost sales and encourage repeat bookings too.
Here we speak with the technology providers specialising in itinerary building tools, as well as an agent who has embraced the technology.
Luxury consortium Virtuoso introduced its first itinerary management tool, Unmapped, four years ago. It has since added two more apps to speed up agents’ workflow.
“Many advisors were using Microsoft Word and engaging in a manual process that wasn’t sustainable in the long run,” says Barbara Joseph, business development manager, agency services at Virtuoso. “All three itinerary management companies went through our advisor testing process and received strong positive feedback. They provide a valuable solution and are fast-emerging as gems in our network.”
In February, the Virtuoso Itinerary Management Productivity study showed more than 3,500 of its advisors had adopted at least one of the three apps, marking a 49% growth this year to date. Those who did boosted revenue by 29%, while 5% of agents increased the number of trips planned after using them.
Joseph says the advantages of itinerary apps are efficiency and time saving.
“The apps guide the advisor through the itinerary creation process step by step, automating formerly time-consuming manual tasks, helping them spot any gaps or errors in the itinerary.
For example, if an agent enters a flight confirmation number, the itinerary is populated with details such as flight timings and seat numbers.”
Joseph says that clients are equally impressed by the apps: “Itinerary management software wows clients, who have information at their fingertips. They’re able to communicate with their advisor and travel companions via real-time messaging before and after the trip.”
UK-based itinerary management app Vamoos, which this June celebrated its fifth anniversary by offering users new features, is seeing a surge in popularity too, says marketing manager Milly Morris.
“Since January, we increased our sales team from three to seven, have taken on some cool clients including Caribtours, Study Trips and Adventurous Ewe, and had 56,000 downloads. Our focus has been on the UK market, but now we are looking to tackle the US, India, Australia and New Zealand.”
The updated content enables users to customise labels and icons, display entire trip details in one swipe and view two holidays at once on the home page. Morris says the app’s USP is its functionality. “Vamoos is completely customisable, meaning agents can add their branding. We also offer interactive maps, live weather reports and an inspiration feature, which sends timed push notifications to clients when they return from a trip to encourage them to make another booking.”
Another organisation capitalising on the popularity of itinerary management software is Protected Trust Services (PTS) – a technology solution combining travel business back-office software, merchant services, Atol and full Package Travel Regulation compliance. While already providing users with an itinerary management tool, PTS will bolster its offering with an enhanced version that will go live in 2020.
“We discussed the new app with our members and acted on the feedback we received,” says PTS managing director Daniel Landen. “Consumer needs today point towards apps rather than sending emails and providing clients with logins.
People are much more dependent on smartphones, and we have tracked the user experience, which has fed the development of the PTS app.”
New features will include a quoting facility with the option for agents to secure and book online, itinerary summaries that will be available offline, the ability to share itinerary content on communications such as WhatsApp and a tool to upsell ancillary products.
“Our system allows members to add their branding, so all itinerary information will show the company logo, full contact details, images, maps and contact details for suppliers. The itinerary is also responsive, so whether the user is on a desktop, mobile or tablet, the itinerary will fit to screen,” adds Landen.
For PTS agents that have an e-commerce merchant payment facility, PTS’s itinerary software offers a link for all clients to pay direct to its trust via a card, reducing the need for agents to chase money.
“The transparency and security of payments is paramount for travel businesses. PTS reconciles money daily, and as such, each client’s account summary is accurate and clear. In current times consumers are becoming more aware of security when booking travel, and the transparency the PTS itinerary offers ensures clients feel fully protected,” says Landen.
With itinerary management software evolving so rapidly, agents may never again need to rely on tools such as Microsoft Word when planning a trip.
Justin Huxter, owner of UK-based Virtuoso agency Cartology Travel, has been using the Axus app since he co-founded the business three years ago
Simple: I chose Axus because it’seasy to use and provides excellent visuals for clients. I particularly like the ability to customise destination descriptions and then save them as a template to use for future bookings. You can also easily drag and drop images into the app, which reshapes and resizes them automatically.
Flexible: We use Axus for everything from a two-week safari to a two-night city break. Agents can input ight information, which alerts clients to delays or cancellations, and can add city guides and provide restaurant recommendations.
Reduces paper: The app enables us to have all travel documents in one place without the need to print physical copies. Any changes made will appear automatically in the client’s app.
Secure: Feedback from customers has been great, from our 30-something honeymooners to 80-year-olds. We send clients a download link, and once installed on their device, all they have to do is create a password, which Axus always remembers.