I recently read an online poll at Eye for Travel (a media company based in the UK that specializes in business intelligence for the travel and tourism industry) that asked the question of agents: “How is the iphone changing the way you communicate with your travel customers?”
The results are interesting and indicative I believe: 29% said ‘not at all’, and another 29% said ‘I am busy checking it out’. The balance is spread between things like ‘in the area of CRM’ (8%), or ‘I am taking bookings’ (5%), ‘sales and marketing’ (14%), and ‘all of the above’ (15%).
While it is true that iphone adoption (and smart devices in general) is still ramping up, there seems little doubt that most corporate travelers will have a device and will expect to have the agency serve them this way. I am intrigued to know how agents are checking it out. I believe mobile is going to be the next platform race among distributors and developers and no doubt there will be a few false starts. That also means that ‘mobile’ will be another place for agencies to compete. Agencies that have a clear understanding of their own costs and processes right now will be the best positioned to be able to adopt those platforms when the releases start to appear. The day is not too far off when your corporate client will ask in their RFP how your systems are able to handle delivery to smart devices, what services you offer that way and what plans are in place for future developments.
One approach to prepare for that requirement is to review your current capabilities – not only in delivering the services that are possible right now (e.g. itineraries) but in selling those capabilities to your corporate customers. Do they know whether you are up to speed on technology developments? If so how do they view your abilities, and do they believe you will be a worthy competitor? The answers will be indicative of your abilities to serve those customers in the future.