The travel sector has been booming in India with a significant number of travelers flocking towards national as well as international tourist hotspots. While earlier, offline travel agencies dominated the entire travel landscape, the entry of millennial into the picture armed with their smart devices has changed the status quo. Is this assumption true, or is the industry also being affected by the much hyped technological infusion?
There’s little doubt about how offline travel agencies, given their one-to-one interaction format and in-depth industry knowledge, contribute to the travel ecosystem by assisting the holidaymakers in planning their itinerary. They bring intense personalization for modern-day travelers by tailoring solutions according to the specific requirements of the various segments of travelers. This is one of the main reasons why despite the advent of OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) and their cutting-edge tools and technologies, the offline travel services still account for a crucial and most prominent consumer touchpoint within the sector. The status is not very different across developed economies where technology and OTAs have been in existence for far longer. To summarize, Travel agents are likely to remain an integral part of the Travel eco-system for at least the foreseeable future
The edge over OTAs: Why offline travel agents are better poised to dominate the current market scenario!
Today, travel agencies are figuring out their niche to provide services to travelers. For instance, in the corporate travel booking space, travel agents have an edge over OTAs as they are able to offer difficult to match / replicate service customization to their corporate clients who generally have extensive and highly specific requirements. This includes 30 to 45 days of credit extension and adhering to the stringent travel policies that vary from one corporate client to the other. They also need personalized and round-the-clock communication and can often come up with unexpected changes in itineraries. Without 24×7 human interaction, it is very difficult to cater to such sudden changes.
Similarly, in the leisure travel space, present-day travelers want to explore the destination and have sightseeing tours without wasting time and energy in figuring out logistics, accommodation, bread and breakfast, and so on. In order to address this issue, travel agencies handcraft a trip that is tailored to the traveler’s exacting needs !
Having said that, there are a lot of challenges that offline travel agencies have to face today, especially vis-à-vis their larger and more advanced industry counterparts. These challenges include financing, limited marketing capabilities, and lack of technological tools such as GDS, CRM, and ERP. As the in-market competition intensifies, travel agencies must start investing in these areas to ensure survival and to compete in their own way against OTAs who have deeper pockets, are supported by cutting-edge technology and offer compelling discounts to lure travelers.
However, such sweeping changes require sometimes relatively large initial capital investment. They could be better served through sources that provide easy and unsecured funding opportunities and with convenient repayment options such as Indifi.