The travel and tourism industry contributes to almost 7% of the UK economy, and despite taking a large hit during 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry is predicted to grow further over the next few years.
Travel agencies make up an important part of the travel market; In 2016 travel agencies created a revenue of £33 billion, without taking into account online-only businesses.
This area is made up of companies that provide travel information, booking services, and organise reservations for UK citizens travelling both internally and overseas. Businesses in this sector may be high-street focused stores accessible in person, solely online operators, or businesses that are a combination of both.
Why are travel agencies so popular?
With customers now able to book directly online themselves, how is it that travel agents are still so popular?
Protection - A trusted travel agency will be ATOL protected, ensuring holiday protection and giving customers confidence that their trip is organised and safe.
Payment Plans - No need to worry about the upfront cost of a holiday; travel agencies help customers split the lump sum into smaller, manageable payments.
Human Factors - Travel agents give that face-to-face or virtual contact that allows customers to ask questions to a real person.
Time - Not everyone has time to plan a whole trip and research itineraries. Travel agencies provide a package that’s ready to go.
Flexibility - Booking via travel agencies allows more flexibility with dates and times, and often accommodates customers who would like to cancel or rearrange their trip.
But how do you create a strong online presence as a travel agency?
Tips for a successful travel agency website
Have a clear web development strategy
This means clear goals for who you want to reach, an overall website plan, and a timeline on launch or re-launch of the site. Consider the team you want working on the site; is your team small or is it worth establishing a project manager for improved continuity?
Focus on SEO
Search engine optimisation is the most important method of ensuring your travel agency website attracts visitors. By including keywords for your niche throughout your site at an appropriate density, you’re more likely to appear on the first search page of a search engine provider.
Create great content
Your site needs to provide all the information potential customers need, presented in an engaging and visually appealing manner. Customers will look elsewhere if your content is poorly written, monotonous, or dated, so make sure your site is topical and useful.
Don’t forget social media
Whether it’s for marketing your site with giveaways, driving traffic, or increasing engagement with your target audience, your social media presence is another aspect of your website and should be utilised as such.
Use the right tools
Travel agency websites need to be able to facilitate customer booking, provide information, and take payment. But additional features such as integrated marketing, or booking agent portals can really help make organisation easier. There are so many travel agency tools out there, make sure you pick the right one.
Types of travel agency software
Travel agency software can be either pre-made or created specifically for your company.
Pre-existing travel agency software is a common choice due to its initial ease of set up, and reduced up-front cost; this type of software often involves a monthly fee to allow companies access.
Custom software can be designed to meet every aspect of your business needs, but the initial costs and slower set-up time can be off-putting.
Travel agencies require software for customer-facing tasks like booking and payments, as well as for staff tasks including accounting and customer data storage.
Read below to hear more about the different types of travel agency software.
This allows customers to book flights, accommodation, travel packages and more via your website. It may include options for customers to book directly, or to contact your agents to book or solve booking queries.
This software helps give customers more freedom, whilst maintaining many of the same benefits of booking through an agent. Some options also allow centralised data collection, which can be useful to your business in the future, as well as reduced operation and administration costs for you.
There are even additional options to tailor booking options based on browser history, send out automatic confirmation messages, and chatbots to help deal with issues immediately or refer to an agent as required.
Tour building tools
Creating packages can be time-consuming, so why not use a software tool that does it for you. Travel portals that combine pricing and scheduling of a variety of travel products and services in one place can be particularly helpful. Commonly-used software can track everything from car hire to in-holiday activities, and handle the reservations in one place.
If your business relies on a variety of third-party businesses to supply the products, you might consider integrating search software to make sure you are always getting the best deal.
Central integration of client information is essential if your business utilises targeted marketing. Software designed to collect relevant information and store it in a way that complies with GDPR legislation is important.
Whether you want to feature customer-specific ads on your site, run a loyalty programme, or link in your social media accounts, there’s software to help you.
Tracking outgoing invoices to customers and incoming invoices from suppliers can be complicated. Financial management software can help make this process simpler by integrating multiple payment systems and keeping track of all payments without the need for administration staff support.
Options to keep track of cash flow, generate sales and inventory reports, and track individual agent sales are all useful options.
How to pick the right travel agency software for you
Whilst budget may play a big part in deciding which software options to choose, think about the long-term impact the decision has on your business. Customers value simple applications that meet all their travel needs in one place.
Consider whether individual booking portal, payment, and administrative tools may operate effectively together on your site or whether a more unified solution is required.
Whether you are deciding from the off-the-shelf software options or considering hiring a software development company to produce individual tailor-made software for you, it’s important you have a clear idea of what your needs are.
Why choose Laracle for your travel agency software?
Laracle specialises in developing new systems and software to suit clients’ needs. We develop platforms to a variety of specifications and budgets, whilst ensuring applications are unique and bespoke.
Read more below to find out why we design the best software.
8 reasons Laracle should design your travel agency software
1. Laracle doesn’t do off-the-shelf products; all our products are 100% custom made to fit your specifications and not recycled from other clients.
This ensures a quality product that fulfills all your requirements and helps to make your business a success.
2. All our software can be fully integrated with other third-party software. This means if you already have a website using alternatives, we can design options that either replace what’s there already, or that add to the pre-existing site and allow seamless integration.
Our products can link through to external booking software for flights, booking and excursions, allowing you the benefits of using our custom-made products alongside other industry software that customers recognise.
3. Our systems rely on cloud-based storage, which is a great way to securely store your data externally. This system even allows you to have several aspects of the business in one place, or even to link multiple websites together for easy access.
4. As our products are bespoke, we are always on hand to adapt and add to them as you expand. We can evolve the software to suit your needs as you grow, keeping it relevant and suited to your ongoing needs rather than relying on software that’s outdated.
5. You own the software from the start, as we design it specifically for you. No need to pay ongoing licensing fees as it belongs to you outright, saving you money in the long run.
6. Investing in quality, bespoke software will add value to your business long term. Not only do you not need to pay regular fees to be able to use the software, but you are creating a strong brand identity of quality and originality.
7. Creating a product with your team in mind will give unrivaled usability. We can design software that includes everything your business needs to be a success, whilst avoiding unnecessary features that can cause confusion.
8. We can integrate multiple systems into one comprehensive application. Why use multiple tools when you can use one? Including sales, marketing, bookings, aftersales, customer service and accounting all in one place can save time and money.
Get in touch with the team today
If you’re interested in hearing more about custom-made software and why it could be the solution your travel agency business is looking for, contact Laracle today. Whatever your specifications are, we can offer a solution.