This is the time to re-view your internal processes
Dear Colleagues and friends,
This year has been a really tough year with COVID-19 affecting our lives as well as our businesses, like no crisis before, as far as we can remember.
Local travel is down by up to 80%, regional and international travel is down by 99% due to the travel restrictions – it has never been as difficult as it is now. And to add to this, there are the dooms-day-prophets, that will tell you this is the new norm. Yes, the pandemic has some serious implications to the travel industry, we have learnt that lesson the hard way, financially.
However, the travel industry is already hard-at-work adapting to the changes driven by the pandemic. e.g. United Airlines has just recently started a project between New York and London operating flights carrying only passengers that have been speed tested prior to boarding. This speed testing could be a paramount step to reviving our industry. More and more of these tests are being produced and could make safe travel possible again. As the travel trade is vital to the world-economy, we should start gearing ourselves up for the slow return of global travel; and it is going to happen.
There are things we can do now to prepare for the slow return of our business, while we have time on our hands. Things that would help us manage our business more efficiently and make us more productive and hence more profitable.
This is the time to look at how technology can improve our productivity and create new revenue streams. But what would we want to change or improve?
Well the most common lesson we have all learnt during lockdown is that our business needs to have an online presence. So, if you haven’t got a booking tool on your website yet, I would suggest you look into it. You may ask: What about my off-line existing customers? Valid question! Your business should invest in a video conferencing system of your own, with branding, security, recording, archiving and tech support at a low cost, rather than using the free public versions with no security; and communicate online with your existing customers as much as you can.
So, you have implemented an online booking tool on your website (make sure it is mobile enabled) but you cannot just have your online bookings drop on the floor. We tend to create short-term solutions when it comes to operations in our travel agencies (often patch solutions on patch solutions) due to being too busy to map the process out and acquire a complete end-to-end solution. I can hear you say: “You must be crazy I am too busy to review the front, mid and BACKOFFICE”. No, you are not right now!
How do we go about it?
We divide the mapping into groups:
- Front Office – travel consultants or website dealing directly with the customer
- Mid Office – invoicing, customer management, digital travel documentation etc.
- Back Office – accounting, company reporting, customer reporting, automated BSP & Bank reconciliation etc.
What you want to remember to incorporate into this mapping is the following per category:
- Front Office – Incorporate multi-GDS, Ability to integrate non-GDS content
- Mid office – completely integrated into the front and back office, to ensure automation
- Back Office – automated BSP and Bank statement reconciliation. Strong reporting tool
I believe this type of automation can be achieved without having to spend huge money and it will add serious financial and productivity benefits to your business. How do I know? Well, our management team is made-up of a 3rd generation travel agent and we have more than 50 years of travel agent technology implementation experience. And we have decided not to charge for our end-to-end solution for the next 6 months.
I believe travel will pick-up soon again; if we all just keep working on improving our service delivery in anticipation for the return of business and smartly managing the virus to encourage people to travel.
How can we support you in your initiatives?
travelcenter.africa® has the full range of solutions as discussed above www.travelcenter.africa
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