Despite sharp competition from online booking services, travel consultants are gaining in popularity, especially among the affluent and millennials, according to the MMGY Global 2015 Portrait of American Travelers.
American Express Travel’s latest Future of Travel report found that more than 90 percent of respondents in the United States said that using a travel professional completely or somewhat enhanced their travel experience.
The value of personal attention is no surprise to the travel professionals delivering value to clients each day.
Personal service is key. Almost half of those surveyed said they would travel more if they received more personalized service — rising to 60 percent when speaking to millennials. Thankfully, ongoing enhancements to the technology that supports travel consultants makes it easier than ever to impress every client.
The new Sabre Red Workspace platform has powerful features designed to meet the industry’s growing needs for service, customization and exceptional travel experiences. It integrates an easy-to-use graphic interface with the precision and customization capabilities of a command-driven structure. It also provides insights that position travel agencies and their consultants as trusted advisors to their clients so they can get ahead of online retail platforms.
Decision support bar
When travelers contact a consultant to book a trip, they want not only to book a trip but also recommendations that add value and enhance the experience. Consultants can now rely on the decision support bar in order to facilitate data-driven insights.
This bar provides easy-to-read, graphic information about fare trends for a city pair over the past 14 days, prices on alternate departure days, and prices for departures from alternate airports. Populated automatically with fresh information every time you search a flight segment, it offers an easy way for consultants to provide insight.
Consultants can now quickly share this data with clients: “Did you know prices may be heading up? Better book now.” Or “If you fly out of Midway instead of O’Hare, I can get you there for $100 less.” Or “If you can leave on Tuesday, the fare is $50 cheaper.” These are the sorts of data points that many travelers are used to researching and now consultants can confidently and quickly share this critical information.
Once a consultant chooses a flight or a hotel, they’ll have easy access to a panel with specific information about the travel service they’ve selected. For flights, they’ll be able to see available seats and upgrades, check whether there is meal service, and find out if wifi will be available. For hotels, they can view room configurations, room rates, and available amenities. Panels make in-depth information about travel and accommodations only a mouse click away.
The new Sabre Red Workspace is designed to be customized. TMCs can create their own clickable widgets to serve distinctive needs. These widgets are displayed in line with the content and contextualized to what the consultant is looking at.
For example, a TMC that focuses on international travel can easily build in a widget that pops up to provide currency exchange rates whenever an agent books a foreign trip. TMCs can also customize widgets to highlight pre-negotiated prices on certain routes or special deals with preferred suppliers.
These three icons light up to discreetly alert consultants to special circumstances that may affect their bookings. For instance, the heart icon shows when travelers have expressed a preference for a certain airline or hotel chain. A circle icon lights up when a consultant can earn a commission on a fare. And a wheel icon lights up in different colors to indicate special negotiated fares or when a consultant has the ability to add a mark-up to specific fares.
Travel consultants are most valuable when they can help their customers create experiences rather than simply booking trips. Now with the inspirational shopping tool, Sabre has made it easier for consultants to suggest exciting vacation ideas that their clients might never have imagined on their own.
For example, say a customer calls and says, “I want to take my family to the Caribbean. What are air fares running for flights to the Caribbean?” Before the new Sabre Red Workspace, the consultant would research various Caribbean destinations, search for air fares, and then call the customer back.
With the new Workspace’s “inspirational shopping,” the consultant can simply type in a broad destination category — such as “beach” or “Caribbean” or “mountains” — and the system will return a handful of destination choices, complete with rich media images that include the airfare to each destination airport. Inspirational shopping can happen in seconds, right on the phone, reducing the possibility that the customer will go elsewhere or book his own trip while the consultant is researching destinations.
All of these tools are based on actual traveler and consultant behavior — automatically providing the information that consultants typically request at every stage of the process. As a result, the new Sabre Red Workspace can streamline the work process for experienced consultants while leveraging their knowledge, and make less-experienced consultants (or consultants who don’t specialize in a specific type of booking) better and more confident at their jobs.
These new tools also give travel consultants easy access to the kinds of tools that direct retail customers can find on online travel booking sites. The new Sabre Red Workspace levels the technological playing field, so that consultants can showcase their expertise in providing a better travel experience for their clients.
These days, more and more travelers are finding value in the travel consultant’s ability to create customized experiences and provide personal service. The new Sabre Red Workspace enhances the ability of consultants to fill clients’ needs. Our system delivers in-depth expertise, customized service, and intuitive, easy-to-use graphic information with only a few mouse clicks.
For more information about how this platform can build your travel agency’s competitive advantage, please contact your Sabre account manager and visit our dedicated site.