The future of travel search

Shopping around when it comes to buying travel appears to be the rule of thumb according to a joint Amadeus – PhoCusWright report entitled “Empowering inspiration: the future of travel search”.

Apparently consumers feel like they are making a hasty, potentially regrettable purchase if they don’t shop around. The study looks at how consumers make holiday and travel decisions today and in the future, highlighting that the biggest issue in travel planning remains information overload.

The practice of yield management by travel suppliers has further created “substantial anxiety” about when consumers should book.

Interestingly, many consumers, in fact most in emerging markets, don’t actually have a specific destination in mind when they start their trip planning process. The study says because of this, there’s definitely a need for better roll-ups and condensed snapshots of information such as seasonal temperature/precipitation and price ranges.

Download and read the study here. It’s 45 pages of research but well worth the read…And what’s more it’s free. Thank you Amadeus!

Cutting through the Internet clutter…

Another interesting article about the role travel agents play in helping consumers cut the clutter features this week in the trade press…

This time it’s an Australian retail agency group’s managing director saying consultants must continue to adapt and change the way they interact with their clients if they are to keep up with the “fast changing nature of the travel industry”.

We are repeatedly told that consumers are suffering from an information overload as a result of researching travel online, highlighting the ongoing importance of the role consultants can play in filtering through the masses of content and navigating consumers through it. Consumers, says the article, are becoming “confused” as to what they really want.

Attention to detail, concludes the article, is perhaps even more important now than it has ever been given how many consumers tend to research their destination or activity first and these people are extremely knowledgeable about the ‘big picture’.

What do you think? Are they on the money?

Its Africa Day…..

This is just a heads up….

Africa Day is on Friday 25th of May 2012 which means a public holiday in some countries.  Angola and Nigeria have informed us that their Embassy’s will be closed and no documents processed.

Keep it in mind and tell your clients

Shut Up, Move On!

Sound advice at a challenging time in our industry and no more opportune a time to share it than at this year’s ASATA conference in Mauritius.

Get ready for one of the UK’s leading speakers on the subject of change, workplace relationships and motivation. Paul McGee promises a practical, relevant message that can make an immediate impact on people’s professional and personal lives modeled around his book entitled SUMO (Shut Up, Move On).

Dealing with change, building better relationships, developing a resilient attitude to life, maintaining morale and motivation, dealing with stress, inspiring confidence and releasing potential are just some of the positive results at the heart of SUMO.

McGee will take us through the six principles of SUMO:

1. Changing your t-shirt: Taking responsibility for where you find yourself in life.

2. Develop fruity thinking: The impact and importance of attitude and mindset.

3. Hippo time is OK: Managing your emotions and developing resilience under pressure.

4. Remember the beach ball: Building better relationships with customers and colleagues.

5. Learn Latin: How to overcome procrastination and take positive action.

6. Ditch Doris Day: Forget ‘whatever will be will be’ and take action to create what you want.

You’re probably thinking: ‘Not another motivational speaker’, but Paul comes highly recommended as a catalyst to helping you change the way you think, work and live; taking powerful and positive action in a challenging environment.

If you’re interested in reading more about him, click here

How far can you “p.p.” on behalf of your clients?

Interestingly, the act of “pp’ing” on behalf of your clients seems to be common practice, but is not always appropriate.

The definition from Wikipedia is clear;  Procuration (Lat. procurare, to take care of) is the action of taking care of, hence management, stewardship, agency. The word is applied to the authority or power delegated to a procurator, or agent, as well as to the exercise of such authority expressed frequently by procuration (pro persona), or shortly per pro., or simply p.p.

Essentially, it is a Latin phrase meaning that you are signing the letter on somebody else’s behalf.

In legal terms, this may be disputed as to the level of authority it holds and certainly no where does it state that you can sign credit card charge forms or confirmation of booking forms on behalf of your client.

I am led to believe that consultants ‘have been known’ to send through booking forms to tour operators confirming the necessary details of their clients booking, but “p.p.’ing” them on their clients behalf.  This is not appropriate and poses a risk to both yourself and the tour operator.

Remember nothing replaces an original signature better than the original signature.

Think before you solicit your employer’s clients

I heard recently of a senior travel consultant leaving her current position to start her own travel company and on her last day wrote a very endearing letter to her employer’s client base to advise them of her new business adventure and all the good reasons why they should move their commerce to her.

Now why is this not okay?

Firstly, her letter of employment has a clause that explicitly covers the petitioning of her employers clients, but more importantly because it is such an unethical act!

A data base of any proportion takes time, technology and tenacity and whilst it may be available to employees to access for work related business it is proprietary information and should be treated as such.  The Consumer Protection Act covers the consumer’s right to privacy and clearly an act of this nature invades this basic consumer right.  In addition, the consumer has the right to choose and they have clearly made their choice.

Data base management companies place a sizable price tag to their product and for good reason, so however great the temptation is to solicit names without permission, remember its wrong!

Jet Airways terminates Mumbai to Johannesburg

Jet Airways sent a notification to the trade on Monday the 7th of May, 2012 advising that they shall be terminating the Mumbai to Johannesburg route with effect from the 12th of June, 2012.

Whilst we are hearing of a myriad of reasons as to their decision we have had no formal notification as yet.

ASATA has made contact with Rogers Aviation, the General Sales Agent for Jet Airways, who advised that they too are awaiting further instructions with respect to the re-protection of alternative services.

It is obviously more preferred that passengers are provided with alternative flights as opposed to refunds,  which inevitably may not cover the cost of a new booking.

In addition, we have made contact with IATA who acknowledge the termination of this route but who also confirmed that Jet Airways remain a participant of the South African Billing and Settlement Plan.

We will keep you posted of any further developments.

Collabo… what?

There was an excellent research report doing the rounds recently that looks at the future role of the travel industry and what needs to happen for it to succeed in such a dynamic environment.

The good news, according to the IBM report (Click here), is that there’s a gap for professionals willing to help travellers navigate the confusing, time-consuming undifferentiated online travel landscape.

The bad news is that you’re actually going to have to collaborate with your industry partners to do it. The report says members of the travel industry must learn to work closely together and share information to get a more complete view of what customers want so they can match what they’re offering with how buyers behave. And unfortunately “no single party in the distribution channel can assemble a complete view of the customer on its own”.

Apparently by working together to assess and evaluate our mutual customers, travel companies can develop more precisely targeted products, promotions and offers to attract and retain customers. Rocket-science? I think not…

And it’s not all about price. The report says in an online travel environment, we’ve done very little but focus travellers on price. We’ve become our own worse enemies, displaying price most prominently on our websites and in our marketing collateral.

Personalisation is important. Online shoppers have become used to companies speeding up the process of selecting products and services that meet their needs based on their previous buying patterns. Travel agents should be allowing their customers to customise what information they want and how they want to receive it. And if you fail to capture their attention, you’ll likely not succeed.

Words to remember and hopefully not just another report we file under the pile of daily reading and forget about…

So long Natalia

At the end of March, the ASATA Members in Johannesburg said “so long” to Natalia Rosa former editor of Now Media at the monthly Thirsty Thursday’s function.  It seemed quite fitting to host her “farewell” at the event considering the whole concept of Thirsty’s was something she brought to the industry.

Natalia as we know her

Breaking all rules of the Thirsty’s tradition Dave Marsh allowed us to get in a one minute word of thanks but more importantly to handover a collection from her friends in the industry.  Over eight thousand rand was collected and the intention was for us to buy her a gift that she would cherish and have fond memories of us forever.

Thank goodness we didn’t rush off and buy her that branded luggage set or those diamond earrings  because when we eventually asked her what she wanted her response was “Please donate the whole lot to CLAW”.

Community Led Animal welfare (CLAW) is an internationally known and well-respected animal welfare organisation, renowned as the pioneer of community based primary animal healthcare in South Africa. CLAW is entirely community based and its full-time staff all hail from the areas it serves, supplemented by a loyal band of volunteers.

Natalia, we salute your selfless character and thank you for making us better people by knowing you.

Become the trusted advisor…

We keep being told about the value of the travel consultant re-emerging as a trusted advisor in the Internet age.

And once again this was the thrust of a research report released by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) last week which pinpoints the two greatest challenges for travel agents in the 21st century: demonstrating our relevance and value to consumers and suppliers and attracting and retaining a new generation of professionals.

CLIA defines the ‘Next Generation of Travel Advisors’ as having a strongly entrepreneurial “can do” mindset; a flexible and nimble business model that allows for quick leverage of changing technology, economic conditions and the competitive landscape; and accredited education and training in line with what is required in such a complex travel industry environment.

Here are some of the initiatives it says will ensure the “next generation” is fully equipped for success:

•    Research to better understand the market: Get a better understanding of the expectations of today’s travel consumes particularly Gen X and Gen Y generations;
•    Communications to reestablish the value of travel agents: A broad public outreach with a focus on the younger generation that communicates the value of working with a professional travel advisor;
•    Educating a new workforce: The industry must do a better job of attracting students enrolled in universities offering degrees in travel and tourism and hospitality management; and
•    Ways to build and leverage credibility: Provide and support professional development and certification programmes that promote high-level standards and will win the trust of the consumer.

If you want to read the full report, simply click here