Which Travel CRM Options Do Home Based Travel and Cruise Agencies Have?
One of the greatest tools available to any sized travel or cruise agency business is a Travel CRM system which caters to your needs. What exactly is a CRM? It means “Customer Relationship Management” for travel businesses. Home based or independent travel agencies are busy people, often times wearing many hats to run the business.
Up until recently, the travel industry has only really had a couple mainstream options. The option that’s been available for those industry professionals in the market for an agency client management tool the longest, is Clientbase, owned by Sabre. It’s definately a legacy platform and it definately shows. Although Clientbase is constantly being developed in and improved, it looks like something straight out of the nineties. Clientbase is antiquated, expensive to implement (once you account for all the add-ins and extra services) and isn’t very intuitive.
Since I originally wrote about my frustration with the CRM options out there, a few additional options have popped up. I’ve tried only one of these small travel agency solutions so far. Unfortunately, it really didn’t work for me. I plan on posting several reviews very soon. The second cruise, tour operator or travel agency solution just launched – in fact, they are in a beta program right now so access to Xcelerator CRM is totally free until the end of January!
Check Out these New Travel or Cruise Agency CRM Options Available!
Vacation CRM was created by two travel agency owners who were both frustrated with the lack of options and who decided to have a custom and proprietary solution created. After realizing there were tons of other agencies in the same boat, decided to open it up to everyone.
Xcelerator is from the same folks who created Vax Vacation Access which is promising. I plan to do a full review but I just got access a couple of days ago. The only feedback I have so far has to do with their decision to monetize the platform in two different ways.
Most of the time, developers would choose a single monetizing option. For example, if software is free, it’s usually supported with advertising revenue. Alternatively, users who pay a subscription fee shouldn’t have to deal with advertising banners, pop ups and stuff like that. Trisept Solutions have evidently decided to both charge a subscription fee and display “in-your-face” advertising on their site. The current banners are front and center and distracting, out-of-place almost. I’m not a fan of double dipping which is what they’re doing in my opinion.
Believe it or not, we are still looking for a CRM solution for our travel agency and it’s not for lack of trying that we haven’t found one. We have tried countless platforms, downloadable desktop applications, SaaS solutions and anything else we could get our hands on. The vast majority of solutions our there aren’t industry specific and claim to work regardless of your industry or how your business functions. Whether this is true or not, I can’t say but what I do know is that a ton of customization would be required, at minimum.
This post is being written out of pure frustration with the hope that someone will hear our calls for help and throw us a lifeline.
It is beyond me why there doesn’t seem to be a solution, or at least one that meets our needs while also being affordable for smaller travel agencies and one-man-shows. Is this something that could be crowd-sourced? Are there enough travel agents around who would be willing to contribute towards the development of an ultimate business management application or service? I think so – and I’d even be willing to spearhead such an effort but how in the world would I make contact? Sure, there are mailing lists out there but they cost a fortune and whose to say the effort would even work?
The Washington Post says there are 50,000 full time travel agents in the United States alone, as of August 2013. CNN says the number of retail travel agencies is fast declining but we all knew that. We have evolved! We are mostly home based travel businesses now which makes perfect sense.
Travel Weekly did an excellent write up on this topic and concluded a much more likely scenario: there are about 100,000 travel agents in the United States, 40,000 of which are home based and that number is based on Bureau of Labor statistics. While the number of independent travel agencies or agents is up for debate, one thing is clear – there are still tons of us out there and more than enough to make it worth while for someone to develop a solution capable of automating much of our daily business practices and free up time we should be spending on building relationships with our current and potential clients.
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