Written By: John Ische, President and CEO, Trisept Solutions
That’s a very bold statement, as there is no way any of us can say for certain we know our future. We can dream, we can plan and we can put wheels in motion to try and influence our future, but every day we each deal with opportunities and challenges that will help shape what we’ll eventually encounter, be it internal or external influences. What those influences are and how we deal with them provides the very foundation of our lives – and our businesses.
A blog post by KerrSmith Studio said, “The future is not entirely predictable, but uncertainty is navigable…identifying which indicators to monitor and understanding their implications for you builds your strategic advantage.”1 As a home based travel consultant, knowing what to monitor and how to monitor it can be a difficult road at best. Understanding your clients and the trends of your business should be easy, but it often is not.
You can find many articles offering ideas to help you navigate the uncertainty of the future for your business, and having a business plan and taking the time to learn the industry and the suppliers you support are certainly foundational efforts to steer your business to a successful future. But, two areas that can sometimes be overlooked but are just as important are:
- Understanding the data you have and what it means for your business
- Utilizing the data to provide outstanding customer service
While these subjects may seem like unrelated areas, in truth, understanding your business and providing outstanding customer service are enhanced through the collection of data. Focusing on these things will help you now and into the future.
In today’s world, you can gather data on everything imaginable to help you enhance and support your customers. How you collect and use your data could be the competitive edge you seek for your success. In an article on Business Travel News, Gloria Bohan, founder of Omega World Travel was quoted saying, “We can’t buck new technology; we have to learn how to be participants.”2 This tells us that travel agents must learn to accept that data is now integral to successful business management, since it’s key to understanding client behavior.
Client data can help you better understand what your clients like, where they want to travel and how they like to travel. Every client travels differently, at different times, with different friends and family. “No one has the ability to capture and analyze data from the future – however, there is a way to predict the future using data from the past,” Mark Rabe, CEO of Sojern, said in an article on wired.com. 3 A full understanding of your clients’ past travels certainly offers you a deeper understanding of them and provides an opportunity to enhance your customer service and offer to them more relevant travel options for each request. In an interview with Skift, Zane Kerby, CEO of ASTA, said, “They [travel agents] have to know their customers inside and out…they really have to understand they work for the traveling public.” 4
There is a great deal of talk today about “big data”. According to the research and advisory firm Gartner, enterprise IT spending for big data is projected to reach $175 billion in 2016 and as a result, more businesses of every size are getting into the game. As a small business owner, big data may seem out of your realm of possibilities or perhaps not even relevant, but that’s not necessarily true. All of the data you collect, from client profiles and past travel history to sales and commissions qualify as your big data. If you would like to take your business in a different direction and perhaps increase your sales in a certain travel segment, it’s valuable and time-saving to be able to understand your sales and track your trends at a glance. According to Martin Hack, co-founder and CEO of the machine learning company Skytree, “There is a tremendous opportunity to discover insights that can lead to better and faster business decisions.”5
Not all of us are database gurus or data analysts, so data can be overwhelming. But we all want to understand data in an easy format and have the ability to use our understanding of our customers to develop a deeper and richer relationship with them. Travelers today like to have bragging rights and they also seek new and personalized adventures, so your ability to document what they like, what they don’t like, where they want to go and where they don’t want to go helps you craft more personalized suggestions for each trip they take.
This is all well and good, but how will this help navigate your future and the future of your business? You know your clients and provide excellent customer service, you receive referrals because of it, you know your business and you have the time to manage it. But do you have plans to increase your business, add additional agents to your agency and take time to experience the travel you are selling?
If you answered yes to any one of these questions, then it is important that you have access to an easy-to-use, integrated, cost effective and scalable solution – a solution that will aggregate your big data to reflect your business in graphical charts where you can easily identify and understand trends. A solution that will provide in-depth customer profiles to ensure you have the opportunity to develop deep and long-lasting relationships with your clients. A solution like Xcelerator by Trisept Solutions, a modern travel technology that seamlessly integrates the majority of functions you need to service your clients and run your business on one secure platform. With Xcelerator, you can:
- Graphically track sales by destination and trip type
- Integrate your sales information by agent and agency to gain a better understanding of your business
- View sales trends in either a graphical or a grid configuration – it’s your choice and it’s easy to change
- Track payments by due date, reducing the possibility of missing a final payment and having system-cancelled bookings and allowing you to track clients who are traveling and returning
- Access the VAX VacationAccess booking engine with a single sign-on and import reservations back into the client profile with no manual or duplicate entry efforts
- Aggregate additional reservations into the trip so you can produce a professional payment summary or itinerary that includes all elements and reservations of the vacation in one seamless document
In the near future, Xcelerator will allow you to:
- Visually track preferred supplier sales to goals to expand your opportunities for higher commissions, fam trips, supplier co-op and special recognition (August 2016)
- Access multi-modal shopping with the integration of supplier booking engines and agent portals, with cruise lines and hotels available in May 2016, and river cruises , escorted tours and guided tours in August 2016
Are you ready to work with a technology that helps you make the most of your big data and navigate the path to your future? Visit http://www.triseptsolutions.com/xcelerator/ to learn more.