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4 Significant Reasons of Hiring a Travel Agent

Saturday, September 9th, 2017

In today’s world of digitization, one could easily book his flight tickets and make hotel reservations through the varied travel websites and applications, readily available on the Internet. As the e-commerce business continues to proliferate, such activities become increasingly easy and convenient. If the things are actually as simple as it seems, why would there be a need for a professional travel agent or tour operator? Well, recent studies have shown that while the diverse travel sites claim to narrow down the vast world to us, it actually does the opposite. And though there is an app for pretty much everything, there are some experiences that only human beings could make possible.

In the following discussion, let us explore some of the benefits that one would be able to relish if they seek help from a competent and reputed travel agent.

How can Travel Agents be helpful?

• Saving Your Precious Time

According to the latest research, a normal person needs to scan at least five videos and go through 380 web pages for about two months before making the necessary travel arrangements. Hence, we could fairly deduce that the entire process is quite hectic and time-consuming. However, you could easily avoid this issue if you leave the task of preparations on a professional. This would take all your burdens, offer you relief, and enhance the entire travel experience.

• No need to Break the Bank

Organizing a trip via an agent is quite budget-friendly. This is because these professionals have connections with various networks, which could let you enjoy discounts on flight tickets, hotels, and car rentals.

• Expertise is their Prime Advantage

These professionals offer services to meet the needs and expectations of their clients. For example, the business or corporate travelers have some specific requirements and they mostly travel to unfamiliar and complex locations. In such cases, an agent would most certainly make the journey smooth and hassle-free.

• Best Problem-Solvers

Well, you really cannot hope to have a trip without some common problems. However, the agents could easily handle such disruptions. Starting from errors in residence bookings to lost luggage and transportation delays, these professionals have a perfectly practical solution for all sorts of challenges.

From the aforementioned discussion, we could infer that travel agents are extremely beneficial when it comes to arranging a seamless trip. Even in the contemporary era, when the varied technological innovations have affected almost every sphere of human lives, these professionals quite effectively retained their status. As long as people would undertake trips, the business of the travel agents would continue to grow.

Rate Parity and Cold Tussle Around It

Saturday, September 9th, 2017

Hotels and OTAs will have to co-exist symbiotically

With the advent of digitization and explosion of e-commerce, 80% of travel bookings are now done online. A major chunk of these hotel online bookings is done through hundreds of OTAs swarming online. OTAs rank higher on a search engine and have greater visibility and reach. This is the reason why hotels rely on OTAs to distribute their inventory in a matter of seconds.

However, in return, hotels have to share big chunks of their revenue with OTAs in the form of commissions. Firstly, they have to shed commissions as heavy as 10% to 30% for every booking, which OTAs pull for them, and secondly, they have to sign a non-compete agreement widely known as Rate Parity agreement. This presents every OTA with equal opportunity to attract a prospective customer and earn commissions on hotel bookings.

Hotels have been extremely dependent on OTAs to sell their inventory, but the concept of rate parity in a way bars the hotels from competing in the market. Rate parity agreements also in a way neutralize all the efforts made by hotels to promote themselves through other marketing channels since they cannot offer discounted rates even on their websites where the customer may flock in search of better deals.

The arrangement looks fair enough and necessary on the part of OTAs, but turns hard-hitting for the hotels since not all OTAs charge the same commission. Some OTAs charge more than the others do, but since the room price remains same; it is only hotels that have to share their valuable revenues.

There have been constant voices from different hotel trade associations across the globe against the existence and practice of rate parity agreements. Hotels argue that there are different types of customers in their industry and they have every right to treat them distinctively. Well, in spite of these concerns, hotels and OTAs in a way complement each other and have to coexist in the tourism ecosystem.

However, hotels can adopt some tactics to tackle rate parity agreements and increase conversions on their website for direct bookings.

Exclusive Packages: One way can be to offer additional perks and indirect discounts like a complimentary meal, free sightseeing, DJ night, wine tasting sessions, bonfire etc. These kinds of benefits and discounts can be clubbed into packages, which are exclusively offered on hotel websites. These practices and tactics do not violate rate parity agreement and cannot be challenged by OTAs or similar entities.

Customized Offers: Another way hotels can increase direct bookings can be by aggressively following past customers and serving them ads with exclusive customized offers. Targeting past customers offers a two-way advantage for hotels as it is not only proving to be cost effective but also saves OTA commissions.

Loyalty Programs: Hotel Guest Loyalty Programs are another way to attract repeat customers bypassing the OTA window. Loyalty programs offer two fold benefits by getting repeat revenue at lesser cost and boosting the brand value at the same time.

Booking Friendly Website: In the modern digital arena, a brand website serves as a distinguished web address where the visitors can peep into your services and offerings without physically experiencing the property. Brands need to make sure their website is as exquisite as their property and presents an amplified experience of the property. The website should have one finger distant CTAs in case a visitor makes mind to make a booking. On top of this, the website pages should be strictly optimized to rank on appropriate keywords and at least outrank OTAs on brand’s own keywords.

Content Marketing: Content marketing can be a differentiator in creating an exclusive and a dignified brand presence on the web. The hotel industry is all about beauty, comfort, exotic vistas, delicious food and excellent amenities. Hotels can create videos of exotic sightseeing around their location and market their property along. They can also shoot high-resolution video of their property and exhibiting the amenities and services offered by them. They can also create helpful blogs like best mode of travel, must visit places and must try cuisines of the destination.

All these measures can help hotels create their own identity and loyal customers in the long run. Nevertheless, they still have to work together with OTAs get quick bookings and exhaust their inventory timely and regularly. Hotels are opting competitive online distribution tools for effectively circulating their rooms online without breaching rate parity agreements. However, hotels can keep experimenting different strategies that organically increase conversions on their website by utilizing the loop holes of the agreement. Hotels should have a clear hold on their customer base and should come up with packages and offers that strike through customer preferences and compel them to convert on the hotel website.