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How Travel Agents Utilize Today’s Technology

Travel agents are leveraging the newest tools available to them.

PHOTO: Travel agents use technology to help stay connected with clients. (photo courtesy of Thinkstock)

By Lisa Iannucci, Travel Pulse
    
There's a stereotype that travel agents are anachronistic, especially when compared to the "cutting edge" travel technology of booking sites and apps.

But good travel agents leverage the new tools available to them as well. Here's how…

Sara Locke of Book Better Travel in Bedford, New Hampshire says that using technology to communicate with each other is key for her company:
 
[post_ads]“Our agents are in virtual offices, so we’re equipped with not just office technology but mobile as well. Technology drives our business for both our convenience and that of our clients. For example, clients are provided e-itineraries on an app that allows them to communicate with us over Wi-Fi while traveling.

"When our agents travel, they remain connected with iPads and have given clients virtual site inspections over FaceTime. We host webinars so our clients can explore destinations, resorts and more with an expert.”

Karen Quinn-Panzer, a Dream Vacations Franchise Owner and Vacation Specialist in Milford, Connecticut shows how she uses modern technology through Dream Vacations’ Cruise Fare Watch program:

“It allows me to monitor any drop in price on all of my client bookings after the client has made a deposit,” says Quinn-Panzer of Quinn Panzer Travel. “This is a definite "no-lose situation" for the client because they can lock in a price and if prices go up, they win. Now, if they go down, they can win on that score as well. Even after final payment, we can often get upgrades for our clients, if available, using this technology.”
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According to Terrie Hansen, Virtuoso senior vice president of marketing, travel advisors are utilizing technology to help them improve client service and efficiency:

“There has been such a high demand for travel technology that Virtuoso created the industry’s first formal program to nurture new tools designed just for advisors. Virtuoso Incubator selects promising companies, then provides them with a panel of advisors to test the tools in real-world situations and share feedback to improve the technology.”

Hansen said the current participating companies are:

— Approach Guides: Its Trip Reads service features inspirational and thought-provoking videos, articles, books and podcasts that highlight cultural aspects of places around the world.

— TravelContact: A CRM tool that includes a client and provider database, email and newsletter marketing platform, multichannel communication, beginning-to-end trip builder, interactive client portal and a smart dashboard where advisors can see daily tasks.

— Tagible: Software that extracts keywords, making the words interactive and overlaying curated content such as YouTube, Google Maps and Pinterest.

— tripFiles: A free private social network where travelers can store all their videos and photos at no charge, safely share trips, and never need to email/text photos to their travel companions.

— Xlpr VR: An app-based virtual reality platform that guides users on an immersive, emotionally engaging journey through a destination and educates advisors on destinations.
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There are companies that have moved out of the Incubator program to become full Virtuoso partners including Umapped, a tool that compiles all trip details into a single itinerary for clients. It's then accessible through a web link or mobile app.

Other companies include Tandem Cruise Booking Engine and Engage, a chat video communication tool that helps advisors immediately sell online using any device, making clients accessible to advisors any time with a single click.

The use of travel agents and modern technology is being talked about worldwide, including the recent TTG Roundtable in England, which connects agents with technology.

“Technology is not just about new businesses,” said Vertical Systems’ managing director Rob Barker, “It’s also about retaining customers. With Facebook and Google advertising costs going up – I think it’s £18 per acquisition, per customer – use technology to keep that momentum.”
   
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Travel Magazine: How Travel Agents Utilize Today’s Technology
How Travel Agents Utilize Today’s Technology
Travel agents are leveraging the newest tools available to them.
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