What according to you should the Indian agents’ fraternity do to fight the tough times?
Travel agents need to adopt a dynamic approach to stay ahead of the curve during tough economic times. For example, in a mid-sized travel agency, with so much competition in the market place and pressure from small, large and online agencies, you need to stay competitive. Every dollar counts – as do every minute you dedicate to servicing your clients, processing booking, and admin tasks.
It is vital that agency owners equip their business and staff with the right tools to ‘sell’ travel rather than ‘process’ travel. This applies to both retail and corporate travel agencies, big and small. A good GDS solution will allow you to do this – leveraging the tools and products already in place of exploring other investment initiatives that deliver cost savings; a good GDS will help agencies boost their bottom line. From a pure revenue-generating perspective, agencies need to focus on ways to increase hotels, car rentals and holiday packages in addition to air sales.
What according to you is the way ahead for them?
I am pleased to say that there is a very positive outlook in India, which is one of Travelport’s key focus regions globally.
According to IHS, India’s growth slowed sharply in 2011 and 2012, but recent reforms are reviving business sentiment and restoring investor confidence. The economy in this region is expected to accelerate steadily in 2013-2016, with solid gains in consumer spending and fixed investment. GDP growth for 2013 is expected to be six per cent for 2013 and seven per cent in 2014.
The growing middle class and upper middle class will increasingly prioritise travel as part of their day-to-day needs, providing excellent opportunity for those in travel as well as related industries. Exciting and opportunistic times ahead for the Indian travel sector.
Are there any solutions that Travelport has to offer the agents?
Travelport is in the business of travel by helping to connect the travel industry. In short, we connect agencies to the content of suppliers of air, hospitality, car and rail, so they have the right content, tools and solutions to service their customers better. We also provide airlines with IT solutions that help them with merchandising, generating ancillary revenue in addition to selling seats.
We power business success by enabling providers and agents to sell how and what they want to, providing a superior travel-buying experience through our technology.
We have many solutions to offer to travel agents to make their day-to-days more efficient, such as:
- Travelport Rooms and More, a web-based hotel booking tool that searches wholesaler and aggregator databases in addition to Travelport’s GDSs, providing an integrated platform and efficient hotel search for agents.
- Galileo RoomMaster, a hotel shopping and booking system with direct and real-time access to the internal reservations systems of over 400 hotel brands and over 87,000 properties worldwide.
- TravelportSmartpoint App, a software upgrade designed to improve the travel agent’s productivity and customer service using interactive technology which combine the efficiency of command entries with clarity of graphical overviews and click-through links.
One of our core strategies is supporting an open platform to foster innovation that will advance travel technology. It’s all about flexible access to content and services. We continue to work with developers through our Travelport Developer Network, and have developed the Travelport Universal API which is the first global GDS API to aggregate GDS, low cost carrier, directly connected to high speed rail and merchandising content from multiple sources. Universal API is part of a revolutionary strategy to support development efforts, operations, efficiency and customer service.
These are just some examples of the solutions in our product suite to help advance the business of travel.
What are your insights on innovation in the travel industry?
Innovation is constantly changing how people live, behave, connect, search, and make decisions. In turn, technology continues to evolve according to the needs of the end consumer. We are lucky to be on the forefront of this change during a very exciting growth period in the Asia-Pacific. Opportunities in travel business are endless. I encourage partners from the industry – travel agencies, travel suppliers or technology developers – to get in touch with Travelport to share ideas and insight on how to advance the world of travel.
What according to you is the global outlook in terms of the travel agents business profile and its future?
From a GDS perspective, overall bookings in GDSs went up by two per cent globally last year despite economic downturn.
The global economy is predicted to grow 2.6 per cent in 2013 and 3.5 per cent in 2014. Recovery of the global economy is proceeding at three different speeds, with emerging economies in Asia-Pacific, Africa and Latin America leading the way. Specifically in Asia, there will be an increasing number of affluent consumers in developing countries and more trade opportunities in India, China, South Korea, and other stable emerging regions.
The upper middle class is redefined as the growth of low cost carriers now allow more people to afford air travel, opening adjacent growth in related industries. It will be increasingly important for travel agents to have access to comprehensive travel content and the right technologies to become a full-service travel consultancy. Travel and tourism continues to be one of the world’s largest industries and accounts for one in 12 jobs globally.