What Software Do You Need to Run a Small or Medium-Sized Online Travel Agency?
May 19, 2023
Running a travel agency today requires a lot of different software, and it might be tricky to figure out where to start if you’re new to the industry. Travel businesses nowadays are predominantly online-based and business owners are required to have the right technical knowledge to manage bookings and customer relations digitally. When you first start searching for the tools you need, you might get a bit overwhelmed with the options, so this article is here to help you with the basics.
So, what is the best software for a travel agency? What tools are essential for running a travel business in today’s market, and what are the ‘nice to haves’? Let’s jump right in!
Types of travel agency software
Travel booking software
The travel industry has changed significantly in recent years — not least due to the pandemic. The way we book trips is certainly different now. In the past, finding the best deal was a tedious task reserved for travel agents in-store, but now customers have access to online tools like aggregators that allow them to find and choose what they need in a matter of minutes.
That’s not to say there’s no place for travel agents — quite the opposite. Travel agents can use a digital travel agency system or software to find deals for customers quicker than ever before, freeing up their time to process even more bookings and focus on excellent customer service. A travel agency booking software should be easy-to-use and have a good search tool to allow for instant booking and checking for availability. There are quite a few booking systems on the market to choose from, like PHPTRAVELS, Rezdy and Dolphin. The first one is a flexible tool that can be used by different businesses, not just travel agencies, while the other two are targeted to the travel industry.
A big part of a travel agent’s job is itinerary building — creating a detailed plan for the customer’s trip, including places to visit, restaurant reservations, means of transportation, or perhaps hourly activity schedule. A digital itinerary builder makes this a much easier task — travel agents can enjoy pre-made templates, extensive photo/video libraries, and intuitive UI to speed up the whole process, freeing up the agent’s time.
Travefy and Tripcreator are among the most popular itinerary builders, and there are good reasons for it. Travefy offers its users a simple and comfortable drag and drop interface, built-in photo and video libraries, pre-written city guides and a live flight database. Tripcreator has a broad royalty-free photo library and its interface is really intuitive. It allows you to verify multiple aspects of a trip, like dates and distances.
When it comes to software for travel agencies, customer relationship management (or CRM) systems are invaluable, since they store all of your business and customer data. CRMs can automate managers’ work, store all trip information and documents, register new bookings, record expenses, and so on.
You can choose a broad and basic system from the likes of Hubspot or Pipedrive, or you can go for more detailed systems like Zoho Travel Agency CRM or Kapture Travel CRM, designed specifically for travel agencies.
The best feature of Zoho Travel Agency CRM is the ability to capture leads from multiple sources, including your website and social media. Kapture is a great all-rounder: it automatically collects all the necessary data, configures reports and dashboards, and manages tasks and accounts.
Accounting software is essential for any sort of business, and travel agencies are no exception. For most businesses, the requirements for this type of tool are generally the same: it should allow for invoicing, tracking, and scheduling payments. It should also provide detailed financial statements for cash flow, calculate commissions, and provide a clear oversight of your company’s general financial situation (preferably by analyzing data and presenting the data).
There are multiple solutions on the market, both suitable for any type of business, or more specific solutions for the travel industry. If you’re opting for the latter, check out TravelWorks or Xero as these are great options for small travel agency software.
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It goes without saying that accepting online payments is extremely important for any travel company or tour agency in today’s world, and making sure you’re set up to take payments digitally should be a top priority. Integrating a payment gateway for your business requires caution: the gateway must be secure and provide a reasonable number of international payment options. Popular gateways include Stripe and PayPal.
Marketing and analytics tools
Successful travel agencies need great marketing, and running effective marketing campaigns requires understanding of what makes those campaigns successful in the first place. While there are multiple tools out there to help you create digital campaigns, a whole different tool is required to measure their effectiveness.
Measuring traffic and conversion rates is crucial for growing your business, and, luckily, there are ways to do that easily — with analytics tools like Google Analytics and Firebase.
Corporate communication tools
Communication is one of the most basic and important aspects of running any business, especially for a travel agency that may have employees working in different locations and on different accounts simultaneously. Travel agencies need to operate flexibly and remotely, so having a network of multiple corporate tools is not just useful, but necessary in the modern world.
The easiest way to make your documentation accessible to remote employees is to use Google’s suite of services including Google Drive, Google Workspace, and Google docs. All of these tools are extremely popular and exceptionally user-friendly. Working in Google Docs feels just like using Microsoft Word, except it’s much easier to share and manage versions.
Another popular corporate communication tool is Slack. This is an easy-to-navigate messenger that allows for personal and group conversations in dedicated channels, sharing files, and searching for information. Slack is a great tool to use, since it integrates with dozens of other well-known apps and is highly customizable.
Choosing a ready-made software vs. building your own
There are plenty of ready-to-use travel industry software options. They're popular because they're simple to use and can work for many different business needs. But there's also software for small travel agencies that is very specific. This kind can be great if it fits your needs just right, but can be too limiting if it doesn't.
Things always change in business, so it's not good to be stuck with software that can't change too. That's why many choose 'bespoke' software for travel agencies. This kind of software is made just for you, can change as your business changes, and fits right in with how you work.
Choosing bespoke software for tour operators and travel agencies can save time and effort. It's more than just an option - it's a smart move that can help save money in the long run and make your business more successful.
Running a travel agency requires multiple digital tools: travel booking software, itinerary builders, CRM systems, and more. There are plenty of universal options on the market, or you can choose tools specific to travel companies like yours. However, if you plan on growing your business, the best option is to develop your very own bespoke tools and systems, with all the features to support your business into the future. To build your perfect solution, reach out to a digital product agency with experience in creating the best software for the travel agency niche.
What software is used by travel agencies?
Travel agencies use multiple tools on a daily basis, like hotel and flight booking software, itinerary builders, CRM systems, accounting software, marketing tools and corporate messengers. There are also multiple travel companies betting on mobile apps. All of these tools are not only beneficial but a lot of times necessary for a travel business of any size, whether you’re a small agency, a middle-sized agency, or a multinational organization.
What are the most important modules of any travel agent software?
Travel agencies’ software should ideally consist of reservation software (booking apps), accounting software, management software (CRM systems), and planning software (analytics tools). There are lots of options for online travel agency software on the market, but working with a developer to build a bespoke solution is your best bet to ensuring your software contains all the tools and features you need.
What is travel booking software?
Travel booking tools are digital solutions that make booking a trip or tour both faster and easier for agents. These tools usually offer an advanced search function and constantly check the availability and price of tickets and hotels, so the agent can give the customer the best deal. There are multiple big and niche travel agencies examples of utilizing those tools to drastically change the workflow. Travel booking tools can also integrate with other systems, like a CRM which can store all the important information about a customer’s booking.