Asian travel agents are embracing the technological revolution sweeping the industry, and implementing new solutions with increasing speed, according to a new survey. The ‘Technology and The Travel Agent’ study, undertaken by Abacus, found that an overwhelming number of agents now believe that it is no longer enough to implement new technology, but to do so quickly, so as not to get left behind.
According to the Abacus poll, 96.4% of agents polled agreed that technology has completely revolutionised the way they conduct their business. Not surprisingly the internet was indicated by 87.3% of agents polled as having had the biggest impact. Mobile, social networking and location-based services were also highlighted as key factors. The survey also revealed that enhanced communication (74.5%), speed of business (72.7%), convenience (72.7%), productivity (63.6%) and marketing (60%) were the primary ways that technology has enhanced travel businesses.
Interesting, the overwhelming majority (98.2%) believe that quick adoption of technology is now important in order to stay competitive. Of the total, 80.7% of agents said a swift uptake of new solutions was ‘very important’, compared with 17.5% saying it was ‘important’. Just 1.8% believed it was ‘somewhat important’.
“Competition has been intensifying as digitalisation, wireless communication and high bandwidth networks are bringing transparent and ubiquitous access to information across all networks,” said Robert Bailey, President & CEO of Abacus International. “Mobile systems are becoming more portable yet gaining in power, bringing information directly to the individual. Information technology has become indispensable not only in lowering costs for businesses, such as through improved inventory management, better scheduling and better customer service, but also in managing operations and overall distribution for agents.”
When asked about the internet, more than three quarters (79.6%) of agents indicated that the web will continue to influence and drive their agencies through increased speed, efficiency and productivity of Internet travel bookings as well as internet ticketless reservations.
Brett Henry, Abacus’ VP Marketing & VP India, said; “Not only in speed and information, the Internet has completely transformed how agents conduct their businesses today and in the future, especially as many of the newer technologies are Internet-based.
“Abacus solutions have historically been developed with the constantly changing technologies in mind, and the Internet has been able to spur on many of the advances we have made, including Abacus WebStart, Abacus WebConnect and other ticketing solutions such as Abacus TicketingExpress. Without the advent of the Internet, travel bookings and trip planning would certainly be much more challenging,” added Henry.
Many of the agents in the Abacus poll also affirmed that mobile technology has made their lives easier and changed how they stay competitive in today’s travel landscape. The majority 55.6% indicated mobile as a top technology impacting the future.
“Flight and trip changes cause a great deal of stress to thousands of passengers each year. Mobile provides an intelligent platform by which agents can communicate with their customers at crucial times,” said Bailey. “New technology and solutions catering to the changing mobile environment are keys to our core business, as we want to help the agents effectively resolve any traveller changes or issues they may face, wherever the agent may be.”
From the poll, 57.4% of agents highlighted the importance of social networks in order to remain competitive in the travel landscape. Many of the agents indicated that social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have proved highly successful in reaching out to their existing customers as well as attracting new ones.