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What do today’s travel advisors need to excel in an ever-changing market?
With a strong start to the year, followed by a summer hailed by experts as ‘the busiest ever’, there’s cause to be optimistic about the state of the travel industry in 2022. Global international tourist arrivals more than doubled in January 2022 compared to 2021 (+130%) and, as remaining travel restrictions are lifted, Europe and the Americas continue to lead the rebound.
But even in the face of recovery, it’s vital that advisors equip themselves with the correct tools to tackle fluctuations in the market, anticipated or otherwise. Remaining aware of changing travel habits is a fundamental part of succeeding in the industry; similarly, reacting to external influences could be what separates good advisors from the very best - and Bedsonline is here to support the latter.
Bedsonline – part of Hotelbeds – has form when it comes to helping their partners to flourish: currently, the brand supports the growth of some 60,000+ travel advisors worldwide. But what is the formula behind their success?
AN UNRIVALED BOOKING PLATFORM
As a powerhouse of the travel-tech world, Bedsonline understands that ‘to excel in the ever-changing travel landscape, you need a partner that understands your needs and gives you a competitive edge’. The brand’s booking engine speaks to their understanding of market requirements, as well as their command of technology: powered by a proprietary algorithm, the booking engine seamlessly pairs the best hotels from an expansive, 300,000-strong portfolio to an advisor’s unique query, considering the criteria that matches the right experience to the end client. Content, Tripadvisor reviews, value competitiveness and ‘top seller’ status are just a handful of criteria upon which hotel ranking is determined, offering the top picks for advisors to share at the point of consultation.
While the booking engine’s data intelligence supports the consultation process, the best travel advisors know that a human touch is what sets them apart from their competitors. A wide variety of filters – ranging from board basis to sustainability credentials - enables advisors to engage in a meaningful dialogue by putting the client’s preferences at the centre of every consultation, while further options (such as free cancellation, partial cancellation, non-refundable bookings and current promotions) offer reassurance and satisfy a desire for greater flexibility.
Certainly, in a time where economic pressures collide with a pent-up desire to travel, appealing to clients may require more than the best selection of accommodation options. The recent introduction of a commission adjustment tool – accessible via the Booking Engine – means that, should a client find a better rate for the same hotel elsewhere, the advisor can opt to adjust the level of commission they’d receive to remain competitive. The adjustment tool allows advisors to reduce their commission in increments of 0.5% and 1% and applies only to the hotel portion of the booking, meaning commissions from ancillaries remain intact.
With ancillaries in mind, Bedsonline makes it easy for advisors to add relevant items onto their client’s bookings via an integrated cross-selling tool. From car hire to private transfers, theme park tickets and activities (ranging from cooking classes through to walking tours), the cross-selling tool allows advisors to leverage Bedsonline’s impressive portfolio of ancillary options by adding them to the same quote or booking, with an ability to present all items at one final cost.
If desired, an optional admin fee can also be concealed within the final quote. Bedsonline are committed to ensuring that advisors are compensated fairly for their efforts, and what greater control could an advisor have over their earning potential than by adding a customized fee (adjustable to a maximum of $999.99) to their bookings? The fee – applicable on a quote-by-quote basis, or to all future bookings at the click of a button – doesn’t just enable advisors to boost their income: it allows them to tailor the customer experience as appropriate (put into practice, an advisor may wish to charge a higher rate to reflect a particularly complicated consultation). If the client chooses to cancel their booking further down the line, the advisor will also be given the option to retain the fee – another way in which Bedsonline seeks to support travel professionals.
LET INSIGHTS LEAD THE WAY
Before any consultation can begin, it would be advantageous for advisors to familiarize themselves with what’s happening in their market. The Compass – Bedsonline’s award-winning trends and marketing tool – offers such insights, with real-time global data revealing emerging trends which are then tailored to its user, based on what it can learn about their typical booking habits. The insights take lead time, demand percentage, price and competitor behaviors into account, with users then being encouraged to capitalize on the ‘Opportunities’ that they’re not currently booking. By presenting this information in a clear, digestible way, The Compass makes it easier than ever for advisors to identify the right destinations to offer to their clients at the best possible time.
Indeed, the Flyer Creator tool – available to use from within The Compass and on other landing pages across the Bedsonline website – is an effective way for advisors to promote their product with minimal effort and at zero cost. In under five minutes, advisors can craft attractive marketing materials complete with their own branding, unique disclaimers and up to eight hotels (with or without the nightly cost on display) before saving the flyer, attaching it to an email, or even sending to their clients via WhatsApp from within the tool itself – perfect for keeping up with those on-the-go clients and aiding the advisor’s own efficiency.
As well as helping advisors to remain agile in a fast-moving market, Bedsonline has simplified the way in which travel professionals can troubleshoot issues through the introduction of self-service tools.
Accessible via the Bedsonline website –Bedsonline’s suite of self-service tools saves advisors time by allowing them to manage and modify bookings at their own convenience. From adding special requests at any time (not just at the time of booking), to adding or removing room nights, advisors can make changes in three easy steps. Other features include a flexible cancellation tool (in which advisors can perform all cancellations in one go), simple relocation of hotel reconfirmation numbers, and easy access to the Reservations Help Desk.
Designed to help advisors work with ease, the Help Desk offers the fastest resolution to pre-arrival questions in one place. Advisors can browse the FAQ section for answers to common pre-departure questions, while other queries can be raised in a ticket. Queries raised via the Help Desk are given priority over emails or phone calls, which in turn saves the advisor time – and allows them to focus on offering the best possible experience to their clients.