A travel CRM is basically a customer relationship management tool that aims to help the travel agents interact with their existing and potential customers in a more convenient and smarter manner. The CRM systems are an important tool for a travel agent and can help the travel agent with his marketing efforts. If you are a travel agent and you haven’t opted for a travel yet, here are the reasons why you should consider having one.• Ease of useMost of the travel CRM software available today are easy to use. They require little to no technological knowledge and can be learned within a jiffy. And the fact that most of them are online tools, you don’t really require to install any kinds of software on your system and the worry about losing your data if the system crashes.• Wider reachThat’s perhaps the most important why you should opt for a travel CRM tool. Now, for many out there, the point wouldn’t be clear at the first go. So, let me explain it with an example. Let’s say, there is a travel agent A and he has hired a marketing executive for himself who needs to promote the various packages of the travel agency. The travel agency does not have a travel CRM software. Now, the best way the person can take of the marketing angle is to approach corporate houses or look to market its services to the general traveler by placing ads in newspapers etc.However, if the travel agent decides to get a travel, it significantly improves the reach of the marketing executive, because with C-R-M tools, he can now send mass mailers, send out messages, keep record of the customer’s interaction and so on and so forth. And a wider reach always means increased business prospects.• Cost Efficiency- To have the reach of a travel tool, a travel agency would need to hire more than just a couple of people. But if it decides to use the travel C-R-M, it can have the reach of all those people he would have to hire at a cost which is less than 1/10th the cost of hiring manpower. Thus, that makes travel CRM immensely cost effective, which is good news for any business.
The proliferation of ‘factory outlets’ or ‘manufacturer-direct’ prices has become common place, but are we getting true ‘outlet or direct’ prices?The middleman, agent or even retailer is suffering in our modern internet-based environment and big-box stores which appear to offer rock-bottom prices but still make enormous profits are commonplace.The world of agents from insurance to travel to financial are feeling the crunch as they are rapidly being considered as expensive cost overheads by the producer, provider or manufacturer.The airlines started the demise of the travel agency system when they started eliminating agent commissions and over-rides and turned to online booking systems aimed directly at the consumer, forcing some retail agencies to charge additional booking fees. Now you can find airline reservation sites charging fees for online seat selection plus anything else that they can get away with. Are the savings they are making being passed on to the consumer?Insurance companies began advertising for direct dealings as did banks with their development of in-house financial planners (not at all independent, but merely another name for a bank products salesperson). Are they keeping the old commission for themselves or do they pass on the savings to the consumer?Let’s focus on one of the consumers’ largest expenditures over a lifetime – recreational travel, business travel, vacations and trips and the Retail Travel Agent or Agency:1.These were really needed before the consumer could access websites from B&B’s to Hotels,
Luxury Lodges and Tour Operators or if you wanted to pick up an expensive glossy brochure.
2.These were really needed before travel providers and tour operators enabled the consumer to
book directly with them on the internet with reservation systems and booking requirements that required little training or expertise.
3.These were really needed before airlines promoted their own booking services and became more greedy for any extra percentage or fee and wanted to be rid of travel agents as expensive and redundant overheads.Now, these agents are only really needed if travelers want knowledge, experience and expertise of specific destinations, activities or tour companies, or of course, those travelers still not using the web.Let’s not feel too sorry for retail agents as top-notch travel consultants are essential to travelers who have complex itineraries or who are venturing to the lesser know areas of the world. All is not dark for travel agents with knowledge, experience and expertise as consumers who need these professionals now have access to them with the web wherever they may be located and no longer need to use local agents unless they have the requisite skills. But, they still have to be found as they may not be in your local area or even in your own country.There are various forms and levels of travel middlemen – Inbound Tour Operators, Wholesalers, Retail Agencies, all of which earn a percentage from the original travel provider for their advertising, promotion and sales efforts, these percentages can be anywhere from 10% to 25% or even more! When you see a travel advertisement offering $200 off per person and you book through a retail agent, you are still paying the commission, so by booking directly with the operator you should get the special offer and also save the commission.Some travel operators already offer their products directly to the consumer but at the same prices as the consumer would get from a retail agent. Fair enough if these providers do not use middlemen but if they also sell through retailers their prices should be ‘net of commissions’ for direct bookers and ‘retail’ for agency sales.When the consumer goes directly to the travel provider these middlemen percentages should not apply but the provider is sometimes in a predicament. To show a net price and retail price on their website could deter the middlemen from handling their products. Until now.Travel providers are now able to offer net prices directly to consumers by using the TopTravelVoucher services at TopTravelSites.com. This website is in effect operating as a travel agent who does not sell travel on behalf of travel operators, but generates travelers who go directly to the providers for information and bookings. As the website does not need bricks and mortar offices, expensive glossy brochures, familiarization trips and computer reservation systems plus all the other paraphernalia of operating a travel agency, it is able to rebate sales commissions to travelers as a reward for handling their own arrangements directly with the travel operators.This innovative consumer travel service offers travel discounts in over 70 countries to travelers who purchase their deeply discounted TopTravelVouchers. They offer their services to the global travel trade community and to the global traveler. They do not charge the travel trade for any promotion services and allow multiple listings for any kind of travel product as long as the consumer gets net pricing.The consumer does not have to buy before seeing the travel offer and can also buy the vouchers to be used as gift certificates. All vouchers come with a 100% money back guarantee and even if the traveler is unhappy after completion of travel the monies for the vouchers are still 100% refundable.At present you can get TopTravelVouchers for Escorted Tours, Eco Tours, Adventure Tours, Small Boat Cruises, Lodges, Resorts, Hotels, B&B’s and new products are arriving on a daily basis.Some tours offer a flat percentage off of the retail price while other vouchers have a fixed value. One voucher for a Greek Cruise has a value of 1,500euros and can be purchased for only $100usd and there are many escorted tours around the world offering a 10% discount on the tour price, which can be significant depending on length of tour and number of travelers. If you have a family or group of travelers you can often buy a voucher for each person (there is a particular 7 day Thai River Rovers cruise that appeals to me if I can find a few friends to join the charter).So now, no matter where you live or where you want to go, you can book discounted travel from your home, cyber-cafe or laptop anywhere in the world. You could be in the offices of a tour operator and go online and get a voucher and then hand it over to get instant savings. Not bad eh?This website and concept is a first for the internet and with the support of the global travel trade from the smallest of travel operators to the giants, it can only grow larger with expanded product selections and savings as this aspect of internet travel is on a seemingly endless growth path.Travelers who go directly to travel websites must do their own due diligence, talk free with skype, 800 number, or email with the operators, read testimonials, check the latest pricing and last minute deals, make a booking and check for deeply discounted TopTravelVouchers in order to get fairer fare prices. If your tour operator does not offer a ‘net of commissions’ tour price when you do your own bookings, ask for it or suggest they start to offer these vouchers and you will start saving on your travel.Although this service is not yet a household word for travelers the TopTravelVoucher service from TopTravelSites.com is on the way to making a difference in that we can now find true outlet prices for a lot of travel choices directly from tour operators, wholesalers and even retail travel agents who often operate their own in-house tour programs. All want to expand their reach to the ever expanding international client base of travelers comfortable with handling their own travel arrangements and who all want fairer fare prices.
It is only the first of the year, 2010, and already another enormous array of electronic innovations is being introduced at the 2010 CES EXPO. It never fails to exhilarate me to know I am about to plunge into a gathering of all of the latest and greatest electronic gadgets man has produced over the past 12 months, since the 2009 CES. One can never be completely prepared for the insurmountable number of products that were presented at this global event. There were over 2800 companies represented and over 20,000 new products, with over 120,000 attendees.The Jan 13, 2010 edition of CEA published the following article, New Rules of Business: Women in Business. Here is an excerpt from that article:
“With 40% of the nation’s businesses owned by women, representing 16% of jobs in the U.S., these firms have a major impact our economy – approximately $3 trillion. According to the Center for Women’s Business Research, these firms grew at twice the rate of other segments between 1997 and 2002, and have continued to keep pace. And I can only see continued growth in their contribution, especially as many women are starting “side businesses” to bring in extra income during the recession. Still, they can face more obstacles to success – including access to capital and markets and managing work-life integration – than many of their male counterparts. They invite you to join them February 17-18, 2010, in Houston on a discussion on “The New Rules of Business for Women Entrepreneurs”.Featured were all of the up to date traveling gadgets, as well as anything that the mobile business exec or vacationer could utilize in their quest to remain in touch with friends and families, associates and customers. From easing the work load to cutting costs on communication and production. From cell phones to VOIP internet access, smart computers to tablet computers, mini storage devices, mobile chargers and an abundance of new games and equipment.We reported last year on several inexpensive ways to communicate around the world for pennies, including Skype and Magic jack. Now Panasonic and LG are producing TV’s with built in internet and Skype, a camera and a microphone. From the comfort of your own couch you will be able to have video calls to family and friends on large TV’s while munching on your favorite snacks.Netbooks are being replaced with Smartbooks, mini-computers, and Tablets, with faster and longer battery life being the key to this new stylish and efficient computer. Lenovo has a 10″ Smartbook with 3G and a 10 hour battery for $499. Many other prices are down though, with a full computer inside a keyboard form $99.00 to an array of small computers from $150 and up. And don’t forget the most important item, backup. DataJack has unlimited nationwide 3G internet access available via a USB modem ofr $39.95 with no contacts or activation fees.Worried about data loss or computer crash? “Crashplan” will back up your entire computer, programs and files, on the internet for as little as $3.50 per month, with instant access from anywhere.Video eyewear is now the travel gadget of choice when it comes to viewing movies or TV on the go. With an 80″ virtual 3D screen and stereophonic sound, this allows you to literally take the show on the road. Camera eyewear also allows you to film any events you are watching through Vuzix’s new series of “Wrap” Video Eyewear, starting at $70, these are great for your kid’s games or just catching those memorable moments while they are happening.International Supplies has two versions of Video Goggles and the ALL-In-ONE, an 80″ virtual LCD TV Screen and a 50″ virtual screen. A true mobile theater with 3D, stereo sound and lots of memory expansion. The wireless remote makes it like a movie theater and personal entertainment center anytime and anywhere.Zomm, has a unique device due this summer that vibrates and flashes if you stray too far from a Bluetooth phone that you paired it with. Zomm’s creators bill it as the first “wireless leash” for cell phones, designed to keep you from losing your handset. It is presently priced at $80.The most innovative product that could change the way you send documents is the “Duo”, a revolutionary new Omni-directional Transmitter with built-in Infrared. It allows you to attach it to your computer screen and type, write or draw directly on all documents. Need to sign a contract or other item requiring a signature, just write it directly on your screen and send it via email. A USB plug ‘n play device that also operates as a mouse and a virtual keyboard. At $120, it fits in your pocket.Home of the future is now! Remotes that control 100 devices, display internet info on-screen control HVAV, curtains, mobile and home PC’s, your lighting, music and streaming video around the house.For you home based and small business entrepreneurs, Broderbund has released Print shop 2.0, the easiest and fastest way to produce all of your printing and photo needs with over 150 wizard design tools in less than 5 minutes each. You can create business cards, signs, brochures, press releases, ads, web campaigns and more. Never has it been simpler to create all the printing needs in less time than it takes to print it. Available in standard, deluxe and professional, any one of these choices will be a bonus to your business.Reading is on the rise! With the ability to store more than 1,400 books in two GB of memory, E-books are flooding the market, with an assortment of wireless, non connected and mixed use books, with dual screens and color displays. Many come with voice recorders, MP3 players, personal organizers, schedulers and memo pads. There is also E-reader and netbook combinations, with an E ink screen on one side and a color touch screen on the other. Prices range from $200 to $500, but should come down with all of the competition arising from everywhere.Are you ready to create your own home movies with a touch of a keypad? With Muvee’s (http://www.muvee.com) new “Reveal” software, creating movies is as simple and easy as taking the pictures themselves. Just add water, it’s as simple as that. From inserting pictures, music, and picture transitions, with the press of a button you will have an instant home movie that you can send to families, friends, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter or your favorite Hollywood producer. Now’s the time to bring out all those old pictures, videos and slides and make your own movies to preview to the world.Dick Tracy wishes he had it so good. The new watch cell phones have a touch screen, built-in camera, audio player, SMS messaging, image viewer, QWERTY keyboard and easy dialer.Thinner TV’s, 3-D TV’s, mobile TV’s and cell phone TV’s are becoming common place. Flat screen TV’s thinner than a dime are available immediately. 3-D television shows are already out with more coming every day. Cell phone TV is growing in leaps and bounds and mini TV tuners are available for hookup to anything with a screen.Tired of those sky high electric bills, but not sure what is causing the most increases. P3 International has come out with the “Kill A WattEZ”. Just plug it into your outlet and then plug in any appliance and it will tell you how much, in kw hour and cost. Replace all of those old appliances that are draining your power.On an even healthier note, the electric cigarette is growing enormously in popularity. With no tar or harmful second hand smoke, these can be enjoyed anywhere, since there is no tobacco or harmful carbon monoxide as in traditional cigarettes. You simply replace the filter every 300 puffs or so with a new filter, availability in varying nicotine strengths. Less offensive to others and healthier for you.On a more personal note, a company named Intellius has devised a “datecheck”, which is a FREE service that allows you to go on line on your cell phone or netbook while out and immediately check up on someone you have just met and need to know what type of person they are. For a small fee you can get a more in-depth report on anyone also.