There are travel agencies which are still managing travels and tour packages manually. Too many papers are wasted daily to check on tours and collaboration among departments in the travel agencies is difficult.
Walk in to a typical travel agency and you see stack of papers on the shelf with all tour itineraries, some may even be outdated. If you are lucky enough, you get a good pricing for your tour because the travel agency did not update the pricing or tours on a real-time basis. Main challenges for travel agencies include business operations, costings and employee management.
Business Operations Challenges
– Updates of travel packages were not applied across all departments and branches, affecting front desk staffs selling packages with old pricing – incurring losses
– Difficulties for front desk staffs to check on updates as there were no online, centralized database
– Break-down in communications among departments and difficulty to communicate among branches
– Tremendous amount of papers used and wasteful printings for travel packages and itineraries – incurring extra overheads
– Employees need to work extra hours to complete checkings and coordination manually – incurring extra employees wages
– Communications using traditional methods including faxes, scans, phone calls and land lines incurring additional costs
Employee Management Challenges
– Fraud of employees punching cards for each other, making losses for extra overtime payments
– Leaves are managed manually without accuracy and often miscalculated
– Additional employees needed every end of month to calculate working hours to compute payroll
Travel Agency Management System – What is Good?
For a travel agency management system to work, it should at least have the below features. I am, however, generalizing based on typical travel agencies which still operate manually in Malaysia. For any IT systems to work, it should solve the biggest challenges and bottlenecks in your business. Therefore the below list is just a general one.
Real-time, centralized travel itineraries and uploading of tour files
– The travel agency management system should be able to centralize data and real-time to allow uploads of tour files for immediate viewing, real-time information across whole company, branches and even with external agents, also allowing front desk staffs to disseminate information accurately.
Preferably integrated with back-end system
– Should business operations be your main challenge, then the system should integrate with back-end system including but not limited to payroll, time attendance system, e-leave management system, billing, accounting and financial implementation, customer relationship management and loyalty programs to name a few.
Payroll calculation and overtime for employees
– At month-end, salaries will be headache especially at agencies which also pay overtime for unpredictable work schedule. An integrated system with payroll for calculation of basic salary, overtime and allowances will save costs and time.
Audit log files for transactions
– Security is also important so the travel agency management system should be able to monitor transactions by viewing transaction history or audit logs of each amendment done.
Preferably with multiple payment types
– Customers will normally pay for a tour with many different methods so a travel agency solution should allow multiple payment types including by cash, cheque, direct transfer, credit card or tele transfer
Connect and maintain centralized customer base with a CRM system
– Details of customers registered for tours should be stored in a common database for better customer relationship management.