By Rob Golledge, head of marketing communications at Amadeus UK & Ireland
The world of travel is changing rapidly, as are the expectations of modern travellers.
So too, the industry is adapting to the avalanche of disruptive technological, economic and cultural changes that are shaping the future of travel.
Creating a seamless travel experience will be critical to remain relevant in this dynamic marketplace.
Today’s travellers demand more flexibility than ever and expect travel agents to be able to handle their booking requests quickly and efficiently.
This is particularly true for millennial travellers who are soon expected to surpass Baby Boomers in overall travel spend and become one of the largest demographics in both business and leisure travel.
Recent research commissioned by TripAdvisor shows that millennials are the most spontaneous group of travellers and are most likely to make last minute changes to their travel arrangements.
As millennials are one of the largest travel demographics, providing more flexible travel options will be key to meeting their needs.
This is particularly important when travel agents need to make last minute changes in their itinerary, or need to amend flight bookings because of a missed connection.
Such changes in travel itineraries often requires repricing, reissuing and/or refunding of tickets, which creates a lot of time consuming manual work for booking agents and can result in poor customer experience.
This could cause significant setbacks when dealing with time sensitive travel arrangements such as business trips and travel around specific occasions.
Amadeus’ own research into what’s important for business travellers shows that efficiency is their number one priority (21%).
This clearly indicates that having the flexibility to modify flights and itineraries seamlessly is a key requirement for meeting the expectations of today’s travellers.
Moreover, the ability to handle flight changes more efficiently is a key factor in boosting productivity and cutting down travel management costs.
For instance, airline enforced changes to an itinerary when passengers are no longer able to board the booked flight may require the issuing agent to perform an involuntary reissue of the current ticket.
This is a time consuming, manual duty, which can be significantly simplified by adopting advanced ticket changer tools that can automate all of the steps required to complete the transaction.
This will enable ticket consultants to set up a booking for involuntary re-issue, which conforms to IATA standards and can be executed in a single, fast, automated transaction.
This could prove beneficial when, for instance, there is a disruptive weather event or an airline schedule change that requires passengers to be rebooked or rerouted.
Instead of the passenger having to queue up at a ticket desk or wait for an airline call centre to deal with the issue, travel agents will be able to handle the process on their behalf swiftly and efficiently.
Booking agents will be able to calculate all kinds of itinerary modifications, including the date, flights and routing, and process all types of tickets and fares.
This will empower them to effectively manage the situation on behalf of their customers without unnecessary delays and complications.
Similarly, when booking agents need to process refunds, they will be able to save a lot of time by using a ticketing system that allows them to automate refund calculation and accelerate the refund process. This approach could deliver significant productivity gains by allowing admin staff to make refunds within seconds.
Given that between 5% and 10% of all issued airline tickets are submitted for change, this is a massive opportunity for TMCs, travel agents and corporates to drive efficiency.
There are also additional benefits from automating ticket changing requirements, including eliminating the risk of manual errors, improved transparency, better productivity and delivering a great customer experience.
By enhancing their ticket changing technology capabilities, organisations will be able to provide a full range of airline like capabilities to boost their customer servicing skills and significantly reduce the time spent on these complex admin tasks, while unlocking new after-sales earning potential.
This will allow organisations to stay relevant in today’s fast changing business environment, while delivering unrivalled services to their customers and employees and driving efficiency gains across their business.
Sometimes it’s the little things that can make a big difference and being able to seamlessly process ticket changing requests is one of these ‘little’ things that can positively impact the bottom line of the business.
Ultimately, it’s all about being able to meet the emerging needs of modern travellers and providing them with the best travel experience that they could possibly have.