Technology focus for evolving agents

Technology focus for evolving agents
By admin

Travel agents are increasingly embracing new technology as the industry continues to evolve, according to industry experts.

In a panel discussion at the Traveltech conference, Orient Express Travel Group chief executive Tom Manwaring referred to the number of Australian travel agents in operation, insisting it remains undiminished despite the rise of online.

“The number of travel agents in Australia is 4,200 and it has been for the last 10 years,” he said.

Manwaring reported double digit growth for OETG for each of the last 10 years and revealed it was still delivering large volumes. He remained confident about the outlook, referring to a “massive wave” of people with disposable income for the first time.

He said bricks and mortar travel agents should be optimistic “provided they’re specialising, and provided they’re using the full service of facilities available”.

Technology is now driving the business, he said, making it “faster, smarter, stronger”.

“It’s about the use of knowledge and imparting that personal relationship and the total trip value to the client, not just selling them a ticket and sitting there like a dumb owl,” he said.

Meanwhile, TravelManagers executive general manager Mandy Scotney underlined the importance of technology for the mobile travel agent firm.

“We’re very much a new business model where we are completely dependent on internet technology but we overlay that with a personal relationship,” she said.

“As the travel market evolves, customers are looking for quick, fast, efficient, easy which is something the online travel agents can provide, or they’re looking for that relationship-based sale”.

However, Expedia Australia director Georg Ruebensal insisted there was “clearly a trend towards online”, although he admitted many customers still wanted the “extra hand holding” offered by a travel agent.

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