Travel Agent and Tour
Operators - How to Choose a
It is obvious,
no two tour-operators are exactly the same, each has specific needs
based on the structure and service offered, location, area of operation,
etc. In an optimized world, all these unique tour operators would have a
computer interface reservation system exactly matched to their needs.
However, the costs associated with
the development of such unique and complex systems are very high, not to
mention the IT costs associated with updating and maintaining such a
system. Therefore, it makes much more sense to purchase a system that
pertains to many common elements and functions of tour operators in
general, and then tailors the system with built-in options that in the
end produces a unique system that matches the company’s needs.
It is of utmost importance, when
choosing a system, for a tour operator to first understand exactly what
their needs are. This can be an intimidating decision, given the core of
your business is reliant on an information and computer reservation
system. You should ask yourself if view data is your prime selling tool.
Do you need to manage a direct sell database? Do you have existing
hardware that you wish to utilize? Time should be given to considering
your requirements of a system and these should be written down and
It doesn’t have to be a detailed
list of every single requirement, but make sure it includes those that
are important to your business; those that set your company apart from
other tour operators and so may not be standard features of every
system. This specification of requirements is very important.
Because it is quite time consuming,
it is also the one task that is most frequently ignored. A written
specification of requirements forms the very foundation of selecting and
contracting for the most suitable system. What level of service do you
expect? Do you prefer dealing with large or small "companies"? These
questions will be able to assist you in the selection process.
With a clear and written
understanding of your requirements, the next step is to review the
suppliers that you believe can fulfill your requirements and approach
them. Do not eliminate discount suppliers that may be considered
borderline. You can make that decision later when you have their
information. Ask for a written response from each supplier, addressing
your specifics. The quality of the reply you receive back is a good
indication of the knowledge, enthusiasm and professionalism of the
At this stage, it should be easily
possible to produce a short list of suppliers with which to continue.
Make arrangements for system demonstrations. If possible, the
demonstration should be at the suppliers' premises, as this will add to
your overall impression of the supplier.
Rather than just accept any
statement that a supplier can produce a system that they will "enhance"
to your specifications, all the while demonstrating a generic
"across-the-board" system, bring your written requirements and ask that
they demonstrate an enhancement to a particular function YOU choose from
the list, not them. Choose an important one.
Following the demonstrations, you may well be left in a dilemma. No
system can match all your needs and different systems are meeting
different sets of requirements. If it comes down to a compromise, as it
more than likely will, the compromise needs to remain under your
Obtain quotes from the suppliers
but, before this, each offering should be reviewed and you should decide
whether any supplier should be invited to quote for developing
enhancements to match requirements that their basic system could not
meet. This will require you to decide which features are really
important to the business and which you think you could manage without.
This article was
http://www.formula-travel.com/. Formula Travel Solutions is the
leading technology provider of advanced tour operator software and
Airline Systems. Formula Travel offers the most comprehensive
technology solutions for Tour Operators, Wholesalers and Airlines.
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