‘Use the tech you already have’ says Amadeus technology consultants Nicola Long and Guy Snelgar
Many travel agents have already got perfectly good technology in their businesses but are failing to use it to its full potential, according analysts at Amadeus.
Nicola Long is part of a UK team set up by the leading European global distribution system and technology provider as part of its new consultancy approach.
She said from what she has seen in clients’ businesses, much of the technology they have already invested in is under-utilised.
Long’s role is not just to recommend ways agents can use Amadeus products more effectively but also to recommend other third-party solutions.
“What I see is agents are not using the technology they already have, so I suggest ways that they can use that tech, enhace workflows and organise their data better,” she said.
Long said agents were failing to take advantage of their technology to automate back-office processes so that sales consultants can focus on customer-facing duties.
She likened some agents’ use of their technology to smartphones – only a fraction of the functionality is ever used, meaning firms may think they need to invest in a new system to plug gaps when in fact they do not.
Guy Snelgar, Amadeus head of sales and consulting, said: “What agents are finding is consultants are so busy managing the current booking processes they have not got the time to be sales people.
“It’s all about getting the workflows to be as efficient as possible so they can stop being order takers and start being sales people.”
Amadeus says many of its agency clients are looking for technologies that can broaden the scope of the products and services they sell to increase revenue streams.
They are also looking to exploit travel tracking and mobile app technology to develop premium services.
The recession did see caution creep into technology investment in travel, says Amadeus, but there is also an acknowledgement that that cannot continue as the recovery takes hold.
Snelgar said: “We have seen over the last couple of months a swing back.
Some agencies are investing quite considerably in major projects where they see it as giving them a clear competitive advantage.”
He added agents have become much more savvy buyers of technology systems, and are much less likely to simply believe the claims of a sales person but want to do proper due diligence and see specific examples of the technology driving results.
He said many agencies underestimate how hard it can be to develop solutions in-house but those that have invested in the right talent are the most confident building their own technology.
“We are seeing a much more scientific approach,” Snelgar said.
“The stuff we see people developing in-house is something they want to do that’s different, that they have a clear vision on. They want to own it – have an emotional attachment to development.
“But there is possibly a realisation from some people that not everyone can develop stuff themselves and if you try it’s going to be a lot harder than you think it’s going to be.”
Having a strong web presence, online bookability and mobile are trends Amadeus says it is seeing among its agency customers, as well as exploiting new inspirational ways of promoting holidays and travel product.
This move toward ‘broad search’ – enabling the customer to be less prescriptive about what they want at the start of their search – is being allied to personalised results, allowing agencies to generate intelligent recommendations based on consumer data.
Snelgar said: “In some ways it’s the smaller firms who are most adventurous with their technology because they know they cannot be small and compete on price.”
The requirement to drive growth can bring its own challenges for firms, added Snelgar, who cited one firm Amadeus has advised that had superb customer service levels based on high staffing levels but was held back by its infrastructure.
“The processes had evolved to a stage where they need to be much slicker so they could grow.”
Long added: “For that customer, everything they were doing was so manual.
Every single stage of the booking process someone picked it up and checked it. We suggested they completely automate the quality-checking process and this freed up a massive number of staff hours.”