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Travel Agents vs Technology: taking on the tech

The travel world abounds with new technology, so I've compiled a list of 10 tips to help travel agents to beat the machines.

The travel world abounds with new technology, so I’ve compiled a list of 10 tips to help travel agents to beat the machines.


I am a technophile – meaning before I was a technology geek, I was a science geek.

Before becoming a science geek I was a Commodore 64 geek back in 1984. It had 64k of RAM. Before that I was the first one in my family who knew how to work the Beta video recorder in 1980/81.

Always indulging in ultimate geekdom.

It’s fitting I work in an organisation that is heavily technology focused, yet the strange irony being that technology is all about driving sales back through traditional channels – booking travel through travel agents.

travel technology keyboard

Some say I am mad.

I say they are mad.

Following this logic, the evolution of cool technology that enables travelers to book directly is in direct opposition to what we do at roomsXML (and with our competitors who also run wholesale platforms).

The problem is, there is very little new technology that benefits travel agents.


Technology for the B2C or retail market

It’s huge. Let us look at some of the new technology that is assisting travelers

  • Anything to do with Expedia
  • Direct price comparison engines like Trivago
  • 40 bazillion travel apps including tripit, packing pro, Google translate, tipulator
  • Find your baggage apps and hardware
  • Translators
  • Anything that has “social media” and “travel” in the same sentence
  • Augmented reality trips and tours
  • High-powered hotel loyalty schemes

And on it all goes.

Do any of these work for travel agents? Not really. Sure, agents may access this stuff, but often at best, in a vain attempt to keep up.


Technology for travel agents

Who is going to spend money on tech for travel agents?

Once upon a time you might have suggested that the larger franchise bodies would invest and the independent agents won’t have the budget.

But many of the larger bodies now have hybrid business models where you can book through an agent or book straight through online (head office).

I’m not suggesting the head offices are undermining their agents (relax), but it’s more profitable for the head office to get direct bookings and therefore common sense to invest in B2C enabling technology.

In fact in reviewing technology, I can’t think of much which is natively for the agent. Ergo, travel agents can’t beat technology with technology.

The battle ground needs changing.


Human factor

So for agents to defeat the rise of the machines it’s all about being better humans, with human traits, personalities, foibles and uniqueness.

So focus on these 10 factors to distinguish yourself from the online noise

  1. Niches and relationships – grow them, invest in them, enhance them
  2. Service, service and more service. Did I say service?
  3. Invest in yourself –do courses, presentation skills, maybe even a finishing school
  4. Write awesome emails, speak to a content guru
  5. Don’t focus just on price but on everything else as well
  6. Develop a reputation of integrity, being approachable and delivering awesome experiences
  7. Travel is sexy and don’t be afraid to make it so
  8. Use technology, especially when it makes you more accessible as a human
  9. Join industry bodies to generate power of numbers
  10. Use and exploit your contacts

What are your tips for beating trends?