Four ways tour operators can make it in the 21st century

Bernhard Steffens

Head of Tour Operators, Travel Channels, Amadeus

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Today’s travelers have access to many packaged holiday offers on a variety of channels. But they’re not just looking for a direct flight to seven nights at a beach resort in Punta Cana or Mallorca. 21st century travelers are craving unique travel experiences that they can buy easily, and at good value.

Done right, packages are like a three-course menu at your favorite restaurant. You go to just one place to eat an entire meal instead of going to three different restaurants to eat three different dishes. You get convenience, you often save money and you have someone to take responsibility if something goes wrong. And that’s exactly what many travelers around the world want.

To cater to this traveler, tour operators must evolve how they create and sell their packages. They have to be flexible enough to offer more than a simple air & hotel package – they need to be able to offer something unique. They have to be nimble, creating tailor-made packages on the fly, according to a traveler’s desires, with an attractive (and competitive) price tag. And they have to do this efficiently – controlling resources carefully to maintain healthy profit margins.

With that in mind, we’ve identified four key steps tour operators can take to be successful in the 21st century marketplace.

1.     Unify content providers and processes

By having a single access point to all travel content, from multiple suppliers, whether owned, pre-purchased or live online, tour operators can reduce the cost of building and maintaining multiple direct connections and accelerate their ability to bring new products to market.  

To give you an example, Amadeus One Inventory, our management solution helping tour operators integrate, automate and optimize their businesses, today provides one customer a single integration to 70 bedbanks and hotel chains.

By unifying connections, customers can overcome three major challenges: 

·       Reduce the complexity of their tech environment: they don’t have to develop and maintain dozens of connections with suppliers’ systems, each of which might use a different protocol.

·       Eliminate duplicated content: most bedbanks’ hotel portfolios are quite similar. Unifying content helps simplify the task of sorting through hundreds of thousands of properties and rooms, identify the same hotel offers and de-duplicate them.

·       Improve their performance: a unified content hub facilitates system maintenance and can provide an elastic architecture that maximizes availability and response time.

2.     Make it simpler to build more profitable packages

Building packages shouldn’t be left up to product management. In this fast-paced 21st world, travel consultants need the right information and tools to be able to create and manage tailored packages, almost automatically, in response to customer desires. If we unite product and booking information with intuitive package creation capabilities, front-line agents can offer customers exactly what they’re looking for, quickly and efficiently. A travel consultant should be able to create a dynamic package in under five minutes and go from quotation to booking in just three clicks. That time saved means more personalized service – and more time spent selling.

And all of this should happen on systems that allow product and sales teams to implement and enforce business rules, manage allotments, change pricing and steer sales to higher-margin products and partners.

3.     Grow their distribution reach

With rising competition, travel operators need to get their products in front of potential customers on their preferred channels, whether it’s through agents, over the phone or online. They must secure their distribution reach to test and expand into new high-growth markets. And, they need the tools that allow them to do this profitably.

Increasing brand exposure shouldn’t be left up to chance. Tour operators must implement supporting tools for each channel that will allow them to target consumers. To maximize conversion in the B2C, internet booking engines create an online and mobile experience to sell their content beyond high street stores. By incorporating traffic acquisition and digital marketing synchronization tools to support online stores, they’ll drive traffic to their content more effectively and capture more sales opportunities. And for B2B, front-office tools for agents and call centers will increase their content’s exposure and help drive sales even further.


4.     Optimize processes, costs and decision-making

By embracing technology that automatically captures saving opportunities and delivers better data, travel operators can make smarter products, more informed marketing decisions and better negotiate with suppliers.

Throughout their day-to-day, tour operators have many opportunities to automate complex manual tasks that reduce errors and increase productivity. On average, consultants can spend 6 minutes to manually manage a schedule change, 16 minutes to reissue a ticket, and up to 110 minutes to create a new travel package. Automation removes the need for a consultant to spend time on complex manual tasks, allowing customer-facing activities to acquire a more human touch. And optimizing many of these processes helps a business improve productivity and profitability, as their consultants dedicate their time to selling rather than manually inputting data. Automation can also be used to unlock additional revenue opportunities that exist throughout the value chain.

Add access to data analytics, and travel operators can visualize demand and react instantly, making better, more strategic decisions based on traveler, supplier and competitor information.

Predicting what packaged travel will look like in a few years is hard. But some of the things tour operators can do to attract the 21st century traveler while increasing their revenues are clear.

Amadeus recently evolved its Travel Channels business and defined Tour Operators as one of its customer segments: that’s the business unit that I run. Our team seeks to offer the technology and content tour operators need to build differentiated packages, accelerate their operations and sell through more profitable channels. We’re excited to continue offering our solutions and grow our business with the 2,000+ tour operator customers we work with. To find out more about our solution portfolio, click here.

This is all part of our Live Travel Space, which combines the Amadeus Travel Platform technology with our people’s expertise, substantial investments and strong customer relationships.

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This article is also available in these languages: Español, German