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Travel Edge ADX platform helps agents add value to client relationships
IT MIGHT BE SAID THAT THE FIRST TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY emerged with the invention of the wheel about 5,000 years ago; fast forward to 1841 when a British fellow named Thomas Cook planned an excursion to a nearby town for his local temperance society and by chartering a train, selling tickets for the event, and including lunch, is believed to have inadvertently invented the world’s first package holiday.
Advances in plane, train and automobile technology, not to mention cruise ships, followed and now, some 70 years later, the first space tourists have already blasted off. And throughout it all, travel advisors have tried to keep pace, though it hasn’t always seemed a winning battle. Indeed, as recently as the late 1980s – decades after the advent of the airline computer reservation system (CRS) – some advisors were still writing out tickets by hand and making reservations by fax or phone.
Yet, it was well known – and still is – that to survive and thrive, advisors needed to not only master existing technology but to try to stay ahead of the curve with new methods designed to meet a simple, singular goal: faster, easier.
“Staying updated on the latest trends, changes, and progressions in the industry is essential for any organization looking to grow,” declares the Global Business Travel Association, while Porter Airlines VP and CCO Michael Deluce recently noted, “A clear, straightforward booking process has real benefits for travel agents.”
This, of course, has never been truer than during the Internet age when consumers can book their own travel directly with suppliers, and competition for traditional agents has never been stronger. Long gone are the days when traditional retail advisors were the sole beneficiaries of CRS and global distribution system (GDS) technology, which enabled them – and them alone – to sell travel.
The emergence of the World Wide Web in the mid-1990s truly turned the travel industry on its head, as suppliers could suddenly reach consumers directly, cutting out the travel advisor middlemen or, at the very least, eliminating their commissions. Many travel agencies didn’t survive the transition, but those that did realized that the Internet was also an opportunity to reach more customers (via e-mail and social media, for example), improve knowledge and service, connect to more suppliers, and, of course, tap into a dizzying array of technical advances that helped further the goal of booking clients more efficiently.
Meanwhile, laptop computers and WiFi-linked portable phones have enabled advisors to work wherever they please and communicate with clients anywhere in the world.
But with such advantages also came problems for both advisors and consumers, namely having access to “too much information,” according to Dave Volman, chief technology officer for Travel Edge, a luxury travel agency specializing in leisure and corporate travel based in Toronto.
“Advisors, as well as clients, are being bombarded by so many messages in the marketplace about offers, deals and specials,” Volman says. “Figuring out what information is key to your clients, so you can deliver a message of value to them, is very hard.”
Add in the multitude of systems needed by a travel advisor to find, assemble and book product for a client and Volman believes that “agents are at a real disadvantage.”
“They had to use different sites to search and others to see their amenities and offers. More to book and another to invoice,” he explains. “Keeping track of it all was a full-time job and there was no time left to get to know your clients better, grow the business and make more commission.”
To this end, Travel Edge developed its own travel booking platform, Agent Digital Experience (ADX), designed to give its advisors a leg up in the $100-billion traditional global travel agency market. Available to the agency’s own leisure consultants as well as affiliates, ADX is a “complete virtual agency” with a multi-GDS implementation tool, and CRM, accounting, reporting, and merchant processing functions.
“We are working very hard to save the advisor time,” Volman says. “An agent can search, quote, book, invoice and update all in one place. We have integrated with over 20 platforms allowing advisors to search and quote cruises, air itineraries, hotels, insurance, activities, transport and soon rental car. All commissions are calculated and shown upfront and our preferred and Virtuoso amenities are automatically included with all quotes.”
He concedes that the continual evolution of ADX, which launched in 2013, adds new features every two weeks, is “a lot to do.” But he contends that if advisors are to succeed, it’s imperative that they have the tools to cope with the Web’s overwhelming amount of information and be able to “distill a million options into three.” And that, he says, is where travel advisors can offer “real value,” as well as being able to improve the client experience through, for example, a phone app – a development coming soon at Travel Edge.
It’s all certainly a very long way from writing out tickets by hand and from the stacks of carbon paper tickets Volman recalls processing in the early days of his career. It’s even further from the rolling out of the world’s first wheel.
5 “MUST KNOW” FACTS ABOUT TRAVEL EDGE’S ADX PLATFORM:
- Agent Digital Experience (ADX) is is a proprietary booking platform developed by Travel Edge, effectively revolutionizing the way travel advisors quote cruises, flights, hotels, insurance, activities, transport, and soon, rental car. ADX is available to Travel Edge and Travel Edge affiliated agents.
- Using the platform, agents can search, quote, book, invoice and update all in one place, with more than 20 connections with travel platforms currently integrated into the system.
- All commissions are calculated and shown upfront with all preferred and Virtuoso amenities automatically included with all quotes.
- The invoicing tool auto-invoices any bookings made on ADX but also allows for the invoicing and integration of all bookings not made on the system but with a vendor directly.
- The purpose, according to Travel Edge, is to save their travel advisors time, so they can spend energy deepening their relationships with clients.
This article is brought to you by Travel Edge.
For more information about Travel Edge or to request an ADX demo, visit traveledge.com/join-our-team/.