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Top 10 Travel CRM Features Every System Should Have

Top 10 Travel CRM Features Every System Should Have

Hot on the heels of our last blog: Four Reasons Why Travel Businesses Need a Travel CRM we’re following up with the top 10 travel CRM system features travel agents and tour operators should look for. If you’re evaluating your current system, or investigating whether to invest in new CRM travel technology, read on to find out the deal breakers and top tips from travel and technology experts around the world.

By Claire Matheson

Safety First

Customer data misappropriation, misuse, or outright hacking can destroy a travel company’s reputation. Coverhound Insurance has named data security breaches as one of the top three challenges travel agents face in the line of duty. Choosing a system with strong security is a must.

Larger CRM providers such as Salesforce have vast departments and mind boggling budgets dedicated to protecting your customers’ data. While smaller, independent providers competitively innovate in other areas, there is no bigger incentive to choose a travel CRM system supported by an industry giant.

Get Your Head in the Clouds

When you work in travel, you need to be able to log into your system from your phone or laptop in an airport lounge. Or access it from the backseat of a taxi. Or from any time zone, anywhere in the world.

A system that is available and accessible online, anywhere, anytime is something no travel agent or tour operator can compromise on. Adding on to the previous point, cloud hosted technologies usually provide stronger data security with more advanced authentication. According to SuperOffice, the top reasons businesses should choose a cloud hosted CRM are ease of use and accessibility, reliability, seamless integration and enhanced compatibility. Private hosting in travel has been relegated to the realm of floppy discs and cassette tapes.

Reliable travel technology brand loyalty

Consistently Reliable

If you want to see someone’s worst side, put them in a room with slow, failing or outdated technology. Making a big investment in new tech needs to be smooth sailing. Nobody has time for glitches, shutdowns or data loss.

Microsoft found reliability in technology is an essential elements needed to create trust between businesses and their customers. Over 90% of Americans said they would consider changing brands if they had to deal with unreliable or outdated technology (Source: Bizjournals). So how often does your system go down? Once is once too often.

Feeling Supported

On the off chance something is not working the way you want it to, you need to have access to good support. When investigating a new provider, conduct some research with their current clients. Is online support available? Do they respond quickly? Are regular updates and improvements provided? Is their support actually helpful? Can they get everything working again as soon as possible and keep you informed throughout the process?

Additionally, look for the availability of online training guides or tutorials. This way, you and your team can learn to use all the features, in your own way, at your own pace. Studies of education and training methods show self-paced learning tutorials can significantly improve proficiency. (Source: Brookings) This is why Sugati and technology giants Google, Microsoft, Adobe, Salesforce and Amazon all have libraries of online tutorials, training guides, and learning platforms. 

Is Your Tech Talking?

There’s nothing more frustrating than setting up your brand new technology, then finding out it doesn’t sync with your payment gateway. Or that information from your GDS has to be entered manually. Or your mobile app does not support your online bookings. A CRM with an open API can integrate with all of your other travel technology. This is a must have for anyone with a POS or ecommerce site (Source: Hospitality Tech). Because life is easier when everyone just gets along.

Beautiful Documents

Having a CRM that produces your itineraries quickly and easily is fantastic. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be pretty too. Your brand is your business’ identity. As such, your itineraries, invoices and quotes should be tailored to reflect your brand’s aesthetic. It also helps if they can be viewed online or downloaded so your customers do not have to worry about data roaming costs or wifi access while travelling.

For UK based businesses, your system needs to be able to automatically generate ATOL certification at the time a booking is confirmed. Giving peace of mind to everyone involved, this is one more thing you and your customers shouldn’t have to worry about.

B2B Supplier speed interactions pain points

Smooth Suppliers

Among B2B decision makers, lack of speed in interactions with their suppliers is the number one pain point, mentioned twice as often as price (Source: HelpScout). Travel agents and tour operators often deal with a large number of suppliers on a daily basis. Communication needs to be easy and frequent.

A CRM system that automates emails, invoices and documents such as manifests is a huge time saver. Look for other winning organisation features such as payment queueing and scheduling, timed reminders, and margins and commissions. Because nobody likes a double booking or having to chase an unpaid invoice.

Keep It Simple

It goes without saying but we’ll say it anyway, your CRM should link to your mobile booking platform. This link between your customers and users needs to be simple and easy to use for everyone involved. If sales processes are too difficult or complicated, 74% of people are more likely to switch brands (Source: HelpScout). The majority of travellers who book their holidays online do so because of convenience.

Sugati’s latest client to go live with their system secured their first online booking within minutes from a retired couple. A whopping 92% of baby boomers now choose to shop online, including for travel(Source: Miva). Regardless of how tech savvy your users and customers are, your system should be easy to use. Your CRM system should make the facilitation of excellent customer service easier. It should deliver agent attention where and when it is needed to help keep things simple, and running smoothly. 

Automation Transformation

With every job, there are fun tasks that you look forward to doing, and there are daily chores which are not so enjoyable. CRM automation can cut your housekeeping significantly when implemented well. Improved workflow rules may help you discover a better way of working, or allow you to cut a number of steps from your processes altogether. Overall, an automated CRM can also be one of the best tools for your team to do more with less.

Additionally, automated functions and communication don’t have to be wooden or robotic. The wonderful world of chatbots (which Sugati can integrate with) are proof that automation can be tailored to deliver welcoming, personalised and branded customer service. This is particularly important considering 53% of people are more likely to shop with businesses they can interact with (Source: Sprout Social).

Measure Twice, Market Once

When spending big on items like holidays, sometimes it takes many interactions before a customer makes the decision to book. Other times, connecting at the right time means capturing that impulse buy. At every point in a customer buying process, there is a moment when you win them over. So how do you tell which interactions are the most successful? You can find your ROI sweet spot by tracking and reporting all your campaign data. The results may surprise you.

Positive experience customer recommendation

Above all, your CRM technology should help you and your team go the extra mile. It should facilitate the smooth running of your business, and help you present a more polished feel to customers. Unquestionably, it must give your customers (and your staff) a positive experience. Because 77% of customers who have a positive experience with a company go on to recommend that company to others. (Source: HelpScout

Sugati ticks every one of the boxes in this list. If you have questions about whether a travel CRM is right for you call or email us. Or if you’d like to see the powerful Sugati system in action, click the Request a Demo button at the top of the page.

Four Reasons Why Travel Businesses need a Travel CRM

What exactly is a CRM, and does your travel business need one?

If you run a travel agency or tour operator group, do you need a CRM system? And should you be using a specialised travel CRM solution, or will any CRM software do? Here are four reasons you should consider updating the way you store your customer data.

By Claire Matheson

Do you go to the same coffee shop regularly? Walking into a familiar establishment, being greeted by name, your order made without you having to ask for it is more than a simple convenience. A barista who knows exactly how you like your coffee is a valuable asset.

This consumer relationship is special. There is a sense of camaraderie and belonging built on knowledge and trust. You can relax and have a chat knowing your coffee will be ready momentarily, exactly how you like it. This is why you come back, day after day.

The same can be said for any business transaction. When you know and anticipate your customer, the interaction becomes easier and more convenient for both parties. And this means you can focus your attention on building stronger, more personal relationships – the yellow brick road to loyal customers.

What Does This Mean for Travel Businesses?

For travel companies, a sale is much more complex than making a beautiful flat white. You need to understand your customers travel patterns and preferences. Then you have to know exactly the right point in time to strike up a conversation. Finally, you must spark their imagination and wanderlust. And you have to do all of this in a way that will make them book with you, rather than taking your ideas elsewhere, or doing it all themselves.

Enter Your CRM

According to IBM, companies using a dedicated CRM can:

      • Improve their relationships with their customers by up to 74% 
      • Boost their sales quotas by up to 65%
      • Double their productivity
      • Reduce their labour costs by up to 40%.

A CRM or Customer Relationship Management system is any database technology that stores information on your customer interactions. In other words, the aim of any CRM system is to grow sales. But a good travel CRM should do much more than this.

Industry crafted CRMs

A CRM system makes your pipeline visible, shows your sales cycle and processes, as well as the time and effort spent on converting each opportunity. But data storage and reporting is not enough. The best CRMs are those that are specifically tailored to the exact business needs of your industry. The more crafted, the better.

A travel CRM allows you to collect a wide range of information about your clients, from their travel preferences, to their booking habits. You can see and predict their needs from every angle. It lets you organise, analyse and report on this information for more targeted selling. But more importantly, it helps you to look after your customers. The travel sector is, after all, based on hospitality. To secure repeat bookings, outstanding and memorable service is a must. This is where a travel CRM differs from other more widely available CRM systems.

So how can a travel CRM help your travel agency or tour operator business?

Stronger Conversion Rates

A study by Harvard Business Review found companies connecting with a potential customer less than one hour after first receiving a query were “seven times more likely to have a meaningful conversation with a key decision maker” compared to those who waited over an hour. Companies who waited 24 hours or longer were 60 times less likely to qualify the lead.

Sugati sets up an immediate automated email response whenever a customer makes a holiday enquiry. The system assigns the lead to the next available agent, and prompts them to follow up. Within seconds of generating a query, your customers can be contacted by one of your sales team because of automated workflows. Your workflow rules also let your team know exactly where, when and how to concentrate their selling efforts. This means more conversions and fewer cold leads.

Precision Marketing and Sales

A UK survey found people begin looking for their next holiday only 17 days after their last holiday. The average Brit takes only 37 days to book a new trip after returning home. This leaves a window of just under three weeks for you to contact returning travellers, capture their imaginations, and convince them to book their next journey with you.

All good relationships stem from the right timing. Workarea found most online transactions occur between 8 and 9 p.m. with people buying more frequently on a Monday, closely followed by Sunday. If email is your primary point of contact, Hubspot found the vast majority of prospects worldwide prefer to open and read emails between 5 and 6 in the morning.

analyse existing clients

So when is the best time for you to contact new leads or potential repeat customers?

The ability to monitor and report on all aspects of customers’ enquiry and booking habits is vital to any travel business. Information is power, and there is no better way of understanding your target market than by analysing the patterns of behaviour of your existing clients. As a result, you can precisely target your marketing and sales efforts.

A Sugati system has unlimited reporting power. Cross-analyse any combination of data sets to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your sales and marketing processes. Which means you can automate your campaigns and contact methods using this information to make them more effective. In addition, you can also automate reminders and notifications for your team, giving everyone all the information they need to act with well timed precision.

Improved Customer Satisfaction

The most exciting reason for travel agencies and tour operators to implement a CRM is the opportunity to improve your customer experience. In a recent poll of CRM users by Capterra, 47% believed their CRM directly and significantly impacted on their customer satisfaction as well as their customer retention.

Having a travel technology system which can generate branded itineraries, quotes and invoices in real time as you input the holiday enquiry information is a game changer. Taking the fuss out of time consuming processes like these allows you to spend more time with your customers. And more time means more personalised service, with greater attention to detail.

When you have a system that easily organises your comprehensive data, it can make you look like you can read your customers’ minds. Anticipating what, when and how your customers prefer to spend their holidays gives you the ability to tempt them with romantic notions of their ideal dream vacation. Because making them feel seen and heard is how you win them over.

Increased Revenue

How many seats are left on that tour? Which supplier bookings are giving you the highest margins? How can you maximise your upselling opportunities in the lead up to a customer’s holiday?

Targeted selling in the right place at the right time is bound to increase your revenue. However sustainable growth relies on improving your productivity. Using a travel CRM you can make your complex back end processes run easier, faster and better. The most widely used CRM globally, Salesforce users can increase their sales by up to 29%, their productivity by up to 34% and their sales forecast accuracy by up to 42%.

Sugati increases revenue

If your team are feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day, or if you don’t have enough staff to deal with all your incoming enquiries, a CRM may be your best solution. For instance, Sugati clients on average are able to increase their revenue between 20-30% with no additional staffing or resources.

Making a Decision

Like everything in life, you get what you pay for. Research by Inc. shows the ROI on a properly integrated CRM system can range between US$2.50 to $5.60 for every dollar invested. The same amount as a fancy flat white. We’ll let you decide which is better – good coffee or great returns.

Even if you’re investing in a top shelf premium product with a bigger price tag, it’s likely to pay for itself over time. But success is not always guaranteed. Have a read of our next blog post: Ten Features Travel Businesses need in their CRM System? For a checklist on what you should look for in your new system.

If you have questions about whether a travel CRM is right for you, or if you’d like to see the powerful Sugati system in action, call or email us, or click the request a demo button at the top of the page.