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Respect the process & find efficiency in your travel business

Good process underpins good business. Here’s how to find the efficiency in your travel business.

Good process underpins good business. Here’s how to find the efficiency in your travel business.



A travel agent said, “I stopped and asked why do we do the things the way we do?”. She does little jobs that fit the best way into bigger picture. What if that picture changes? Do the old assumptions still fit?

Good processes liberate operational efficiency by reducing a step in a refund process or taking hours out of complex tasks. This business evolution gets more done in less time.

Before changing it, understand it.


Remove the noise


There is a lot of noise. Text messages, LinkedIn, Facebook, the newspaper site, constant stream of email. For clear thinking you need less noise.

Ever thought about turning off your email?


Learn to map the process


A process has a start and an end. Nearly all of our processes include data acquisition. Listing the data, order it, understand the dependencies and decision steps and you have a simple process map. Nothing stands alone in our workplace. Things need to be booked, bills need to be paid. Start with the smaller processes and link them together into big ones. Step back to see how it all fits together.

Butcher’s paper comes in handy.


Discuss and share


Things might be done for a reason that you aren’t aware of.

In the mid-90s Boeing launched a new aircraft. Everything apart from the door was made at one factory. Successful fitting of the door would take up to seven test flights at $30,000 per flight. An experienced worker who was now in another section knew to reach around the back and tweak a wire before doing up the big bolts.

He was included in the conversation and shared his knowledge, reducing the number of test flights to two. Collaboration not only gets more done but gives everyone a sense of evolution and ownership of the new direction.


Evaluate your resources

Data management takes systems. Investment in systems reduces the need for human resources which can be redeployed. What does each person need from the system ? Do they know how to use it?

Think people, systems and process.

This year we increased our staffing levels, internally changed the way we answered calls, processed refunds, payment follow-up, wages and communication. It took about eight weeks. We’ve created new reports, added structured meetings and removed the number of steps in our business.


An example at work

The agent assigns work to produce complex itineraries the same way it was always done. But now more than one person works on the itinerary. She was highlighting 80 or 90 pieces in the document. When directing someone else it was more efficient to write a task list of a dozen bullet points at the start of the document. This was updated to a pro forma document template with every possible inclusion from which she deleted the stuff that didn’t need doing.


So get around it – the golden tips

  • Plan everything out and set a timeline
  • Allocate the tasks
  • Start on smaller non-core processes
  • Run old and new process in parallel to make sure nothing falls through the cracks
  • When you switch over let the process settle; rushing can compromise the efficiencies.

Rinse and repeat.

What would you recommend for good business practice?