Travel TechnologyTechnology has its value, but it isn't always the answer when it comes to great customer service.

Tech may not matter that much

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While technology is beneficial to travel agents, it's not the be-all and end-all of business continuity.
While technology is beneficial to travel agents, it's not the be-all and end-all of business continuity. Photo Credit: Adobe/Kittiphan
CEO of GlobalTix
CEO of GlobalTix

Chee Chong Chan is the CEO of GlobalTix, Asia's leading booking and distribution platform, providing end-to-end solutions for travel operators and resellers to connect experiences with the world.

Digitalisation is transforming at the speed of light, waiting for no one. Are we moving in the right direction at the right speed? Or are we teetering toward slow demise?

These are some of the questions that hit me in the middle of the night and keep me up. Will we end up like Nokia, who didn’t do anything wrong but didn’t innovate? Or will we be like Kodak, who invented the digital camera technology but waited too long to launch for fear of cannibalising its film business? Is technology only for the big boys who will eventually gobble up all of us? Questions, and more questions. 

Attending the recent CruiseWorld Indonesia 2022 cruise conference in Jakarta, however, reignited my hopes. I met with many small and medium-sized agents and shared meaningful conversations with them.

To my surprise, a handful of them are not only surviving, but also thriving! Here are the commonalities among them:

Know yourself, know your customers

For businesses that thrive, they know where their customers are coming from. They don’t try to target everyone, but they are excellent in their market.

For example, some agents target Muslim families, some go after honeymooners, while some cater to luxury travellers requiring high-touch services. Some specialise in a product offering, such as cruise, or specific market destination like Japan. The key is that they always know their customers and why their products suit them.

Adopt technology that suits your needs

Technology adoption needs not be expensive, nor does it have to be all-encompassing. Most of the smaller agents have taken steps towards digitalisation — they have started a WhatsApp/Telegram business account and some form of social media for online presence.

They have also set up accounts with bed banks to get instant hotel access and work with GlobalTix to access attraction and activity products. Those tech-savvy businesses created booking links to their packages to sell on social media. All of them invested time in understanding technology to grow their business. 

Technology isn't a scary thing. It is a tool that helps you achieve great things and lead to discoveries.

While the world is being disrupted, I believe what remains the same is our ability to add value. It’s not just about having the best technology but the best customer experience. Technology empowers your customers – from instant confirmation to customisations and paying in their preferred methods – it makes things faster, easier, and more convenient. 

So there is hope. It may sound strange coming from a person that lives and breathe tech. But technology is not the end-all; it’s just one piece of the puzzle that makes your travel business successful - we must also focus on the needs of our customers and ensure they are taken care of.

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