Updated: Feb 2, 2022
In the mid-1990s, a would-be traveller would eagerly push their way into a bricks-and-mortar agency, ready to talk to a willing agent. This expert could help them reach the bold new world of the internet by accessing special networks to find the best price available and booking tickets on the spot. Of course, this was before the days of rapid commercialisation, well before social media and an era that now seems so distant. Hard to believe that this was just over two decades ago, as things have moved forward very quickly, indeed. How has technology transformed the way that people book travel during this time?
The Days of Adventure
Perhaps travel was much more of an adventure back then, as there was always that element of uncertainty. Yes, you could gather a lot of information at that travel agency, pick up one of the many brochures that would line the wall and feel that you were ready for anything. However, when you actually set off, you would only have access to this paper information and would often have to rely on your instincts to make things happen when you reached your destination.
The Consumer as the Expert
Technology has changed all of that. Now, each consumer is a travel expert, and they can perform widespread research before they decide on one particular destination over another. They can also search to find the best deal, and once they arrive, they have a variety of available apps to help them navigate, find the best restaurants, book excursions and so on. Little wonder, therefore, that the number of people taking overseas holidays has skyrocketed.
The new generation of travelers is more likely to DIY as they plan, book and manage their travel online
This has significantly affected the bricks-and-mortar travel agency owner, of course, who may no longer play such a dominant role as they did at the end of the last century.
Low-cost air carriers quickly took advantage of the internet revolution as well, as they pivoted to focus on virtual bookings. The larger tour operators also suffered to a degree as independent travel operators sprang up everywhere to take advantage of online and mobile technology.
The technological revolution has also created brand-new sectors within the travel industry, pioneered by companies like Airbnb. The idea of booking a room in a stranger’s home would have been unthinkable in the '90s, but it is now quite commonplace. According to a survey by Deloitte, 2.1 million Airbnb guests spent $2 billion in one year across Australia, supporting 14,000 jobs and generating $1.6 billion in GDP.
Travellers today demand an increasingly personalised experience, and providers are falling over themselves to supply. For example, a hotel may want to provide a much more intimate experience for guests in addition to making their stay as stress-free as possible. They use apps and digital technology to make it easy for a guest to find the hotel. They allow them to check in without standing in a line, unlock the door without a physical key and enable front desk communication via WhatsApp.
Yet all of this innovation and DIY would be far from the end of the traditional travel agency. Forward-thinking companies saw opportunities and decided to embrace online as well. They realised that many consumers would still value the personal connection they could only get in a store, even though others wanted to take full control via their mobile, tablet or desktop.
Consequently, these agencies created a strong online presence, and some even decided to bring technology into their stores by offering virtual reality “trips” that a consumer could only experience there.
Predicting the Future
In many respects, travel agencies have had to reinvent the wheel to grab their market share and ensure they have an online presence of their own. After all, more than two-thirds of all bookings are now made online, and this is predicted to rise to 74% by 2026. But still, the proportion of bookings made through agents also increased from 17.5% to 24.3% in 2018. Further, it appears that millennial's and Generation Z are more likely to book through a travel professional in-store, even though they weren’t around to experience the travel agency boom of the '90s.
So while there are definite reasons for optimism, the modern-day travel agency must provide as many options as possible to attract prospects. They need to maintain a dynamic website and include solutions that may be difficult to access elsewhere. For example, they may want to attract those who are interested in a motorhome or caravanning holiday across Australia. And, in this case, they could install a new booking solution pioneered by ROAVER.
ROAVER is a cutting-edge travel technology firm designed to present service offerings from all the leading motorhome and campervan operators across Australia in one place. The platform can be seamlessly integrated into a travel agency’s website as a white label solution, so the agencies can sell access to motorhomes and campervan holidays. In turn, this provides the visitors with a far more efficient way to search and compare.
Until ROAVER was formed, the campervan and motorhome travel sectors were quite segmented. Customers may not have had access to the most comprehensive information to allow them to make an informed decision. ROAVER provides a solution that gives customers better access to the information needed. It offers both experienced and new travellers better access to these sectors so that they can fully appreciate the world of motorhome rentals and caravanning.
Within ROAVER, travel agents will find a powerful booking engine that provides real-time search results. They can sell it under their own brand, and it is easy to integrate seamlessly with the front and back end. This means that agents can easily manage their customers as they book, and this cutting-edge automation could cut an agent’s workload in half.
If you are an agency looking for new solutions, get in touch with ROAVER. See how this solution could benefit your agency as the market reopens and people travel again.