Travel Agent NewsFilipino travellers prefer Southeast Asian destinations and prioritise customer service, says Michelle G. Taylan of PTAA Travel Tour Expo 2023.

PTAA navigates Filipinos' travel trends

Short-haul destinations like Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand, along with visa-free countries like Israel and Taiwan are popular among Filipino travellers.
Short-haul destinations like Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand, along with visa-free countries like Israel and Taiwan are popular among Filipino travellers. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/Nopphon
Michelle G. Taylan
Michelle G. Taylan

Michelle G. Taylan is the immediate past president of PTAA (Philippine Travel Agencies Association) and the chair of PTAA Travel Tour Expo 2023. She is also the president of Klik 'n Fly Travel and Tours.

Filipino travellers are venturing out to explore the world, seeking new experiences, cultural immersion, and affordable destinations, shares Michelle G. Taylan, chairman of PTAA Travel Tour Expo 2023, amidst other insights into the Philippines market.

Filipinos' top 5 destinations

  1. Japan
  2. Singapore
  3. Vietnam
  4. Malaysia
  5. Thailand

According to Philippine Travel Agencies Association’s (PTAA)'s recent findings, Filipino travellers are primarily drawn to Southeast Asian destinations like Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, and South Korea, with visa-free countries such as Israel and Taiwan being particularly popular.

These destinations offer convenience, affordability, and proximity to the Philippines. Europe is also favoured, thanks to its rich culture and budget-friendly prices, allowing for extended stays in countries like Georgia, Turkey, France, Czech Republic, Portugal, Morocco, The Balkans, Spain, and others.

The US remains a sought-after destination, especially for Filipinos with relatives there. Filipino travelers prioritise convenience, affordability, and cultural experiences when choosing their destinations.

What’s hot and trendy

Tour packaging services continue to dominate the market in the Philippines, representing around 60% of all services provided by establishments.

Nevertheless, there is a growing inclination towards FIT (free independent travel) tours, driven by the desire for enhanced privacy and the freedom to personalise travel itineraries according to individual preferences and schedules.

Digital adoption scorecard

The integration of technology will continue to be crucial for the recovery and growth of the travel industry, presenting opportunities for businesses to enhance their services and attract a larger customer base. It is imperative to recognise the industry's need to keep pace with technological advancements in order to remain relevant and deliver improved experiences to clients.

A significant percentage, approximately 50-60%, of travel agents in the Philippines have already embraced digital transformation. Online bookings have gained prominence, facilitating seamless transactions with clients, particularly those opting for FIT arrangements. Technological advancements have also enabled travel agents to work remotely, enabling easier access to information and fostering better connectivity.

Digital transformation offers numerous benefits, empowering travel agents to streamline administrative tasks such as reservations, invoicing, and customer support through automation. Digital tools provide valuable insights into customer behavior and preferences, enabling travel agents to deliver personalised and tailored travel experiences.

Social media platforms, including TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, have become indispensable marketing tools for travel agencies, allowing them to reach wider audiences and promote their services effectively. Moreover, establishing a dedicated 24/7 customer care hotline can offer clients peace of mind, particularly during emergency situations.

Putting the A in travel agents

The pandemic has brought about a shift in work dynamics, prompting many individuals to embrace remote work. This change has its advantages and limitations, impacting both organizations and individuals. Taylan as the president of Klik 'N Fly, continually explores methods to incentivise employees to return to the office, offering additional benefits such as transportation allowances, complimentary travel opportunities, cash incentives, and other rewards. Taylan firmly believes that fostering a collaborative office environment promotes skill development, including customer service expertise, and facilitates knowledge sharing among colleagues.

In the travel industry, customer service emerges as a critical skill for aspiring travel agents, alongside industry knowledge and technical qualifications. Travel agents should have an arsenal of excellent interpersonal skills, effective communication abilities, efficient time management, and strong sales and negotiation acumen. Furthermore, expertise in information technology and a solid understanding of business operations are essential.

To excel in the competitive travel industry, travel agents must possess a well-rounded combination of skills, knowledge, and qualifications. The significance of customer service cannot be underestimated, as it plays a pivotal role in delivering exceptional service and creating memorable travel experiences for clients. With the right attitude and skill set, travel agents can set themselves apart from the competition and establish themselves as industry leaders.

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