How I found a cool tool to serve my customers with speed, accuracy and beautifully curated itineraries!
Being in the travel industry for over 2 decades, the biggest impediment for the travel consultant (yes, like a doctor / architect / lawyer, I am a professional too) was the speed to revert to customers with options and accurate pricing. Post COVID-19 the industry was decimated but as they say, in the end, everything will be okay, if not, it’s not the end yet. As parts of the world are slowly opening up, to vaccinated travellers, I am inscribing this to share with the world a magnificent dynamic itinerary creator tool that I came across and I have immensely profited from it and I want my fellow travel consultants to benefit from it too.
Consider this typical scenario where a typical traveller walks into your agency office and has a chat with you over a cup of coffee on their next holiday. Being consultants, if the customer gives you an exact date and the destination, you can do a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation and give them indicative pricing to proceed to the next level of conversation. I’ll come to the issue with this methodology a little later. But, if the customer does not know the destination and gives you only indicative dates and budget, it’s going to be a herculean task to rack our brains and come up with a few options immediately. The SaaS system from pathfndr.io which has apart from global flights, hotels, activities (sightseeing), apartments, airport transfers, intercity cabs and organized holiday packages, includes the travel operating system that had the beautifully designed “Plan A Trip” option.
Simply put – “Plan A Trip” is flights + hotels + activities + transfers
The beauty lies in the artificial intelligence which has been embedded with some data sciences driven algorithms to think like a human and give top-ranked recommendations based on some basic inputs given from the customer.
This is exceptional, as the options given are completely real-time, bookable and customizable on the fly with accurate pricing. Normally I would have taken about a day to revert with 10 options with indicative pricing. These options can be instantly emailed to the customer in the form of a lovely pdf, complete with my logo, destination information and pictures. Now the customer has an option to choose amongst the options and decides to choose, say option number 7. Here’s the incredible part, option number 7 can be opened to further customize on flights (upgrade to business class if needed), downgrade the hotel and spend more on sightseeing at the destination and arrive in style from the destination airport to the hotel hassle-free. As each component of the itinerary is modified, the price also changes on the fly. This too can be shared with the customer by email as an exquisite pdf with a day-wise itinerary and all the inclusions. It has taken me about 5 mins to customize and close the sale with the client.
The issue with back-of-the-envelope calculation is that, not all the staff are experienced like me, not traveled enough, hotels and flight prices are dynamic in nature and lastly, we are unaware of the availability of that product for that specific date. In the normal course, assuming the customer comes over to my office on a Thursday and decides the itinerary, I’ll email my supplier or DMC (Destination Management Company) on Friday, since most don’t work over the weekend, I’ll get a reply from them on Monday and I’ll take a day more to compile the whole thing and send an email to the client by Tuesday, a lapse of over 5 days. God help me if the client wants to change the hotel/add or remove an activity and I’ll have to follow the same process of writing back to my DMC and wait.
5 mins to serve or 5 days to serve is your choice but given the current instant generation of travellers that we service, I guess we all will and must choose the former option.
Few interesting features which Plan A Trip offers are
a) Why the trip is ranked – sketching the destination suitability, projected weather, the best time to visit, travel time taken, hotel quality & location along with other ranking features
b) A nice graphical view of the cost breakdown on the various components
c) Top points of interest and best things to do
d) Estimated driving/flying time and distances
e) Travel Safety Index – which gives almost real-time information on COVID-19 at the destination, expected air quality index and other health & safety score.
Serve your customers with the promptness and responsiveness they expect from you with this powerful tool. Spend time conversing with clients and give them consultative destination advice along with do’s and don’ts, they need you for that and not trying to create itineraries after itineraries and trying to figure out verified suppliers at the backend. Go check it out and let me know if you like it!