The recent influx of travel sites like Kayak, Expedia (News - Alert) and Priceline has created a major predicament for travel agents. The sheer size of these online booking companies enables them to undercut local agencies on the price of plane tickets, car rentals, hotel reservations and other travel-related services.
Online aggregation sites further their lead over small agencies with aggressive Web marketing investments, social media initiatives and SEO campaigns, says a recent blog post authored by PlumVoice.com, a leading provider of IVR products and services.
These techniques – along with the ubiquitous nature of the Internet – allow large travel websites to reach and serve thousands of customers at the same time. Needless to say, the Internet age has put many local travel agents on the brink of being forced to close their doors.
To compete in today's market, agencies need to emphasize their strengths while eliminating their weaknesses. Local companies can continue to provide personalized service while increasing their capacity to handle more clients by deploying an IVR solution.
Interactive voice response technologies can manage hundreds of incoming calls, allowing representatives to serve customers who need advice or who prefer to receive help from a live party. On the other hand, clients who need basic information or services can simply follow the automated prompts.
IVRs can also minimize hold times and enable smaller organizations to handle an expanding customer base – all without losing the personal touch that they are known for.
"Many people want to get a more personalized, intimate booking experience where they can actually speak to someone who has real-world expertise," says PlumVoice. "IVR integration is the primary way travel agencies can get a tech leg up!"
In addition to providing better service, IVRs can help travel agencies minimize their operating expenses. These systems eliminate the need for multiple receptionists to route calls as well as minimize the importance of having a large sales support staff. In essence, IVRs enable local travel agencies to compete with the big boys while remaining who they are at heart.
Beecher Tuttle is a TMCnet contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Juliana Kenny