The travel trade can harness technology to grab its fair share of the increasingly lucrative leisure travel market
It has become a well known fact that the growth of leisure travel is outpacing business travel globally.
Over the last five years, spending on holidays has increased 25% and visiting family and relatives’ (VFR) spend has shot up by 17%, both outgrowing business travel expenditure, which increased 16% over the same period, according to World Travel Monitor 2013 by IPK International.
Since 2009, the volume of city trips taken by international travellers has grown by 47% and the number of tours purchased by 27%, all of which spells good news for destination management companies and the travel firms that successfully package these components.
International tourist numbers continue to grow year-on-year, breaking the one billion barrier in 2012 and increasing by another 5% in 2013, according to the UNWTO.
This brought an additional 52 million interna-tional tourists into the mix, with a further 4.5% increase anticipated in 2014.
But this will be a drop in the ocean come 2030 when the UNWTO predicts the majority of all international tourist arrivals (57%) will hail from emerging economy destinations, namely the BRIC nations – Brazil, Russia. India and China.
Add to that the already explosive growth of the Pan-Asian travel market, plus longer term, the potential of the North American market to switch from domestic to overseas travel and the opportunities for the travel trade to harness the leisure segment are mind-boggling.
But where do you start?
Firstly, I believe it’s imperative to get your business model right and decide which segments of the incredibly broad leisure travel market you are best suited to serve.
The Gulf’s travel industry has its foundations in corporate travel, so that’s as good a starting place as any because leisure matters for business travellers.
Your corporate clients will, more often than not, have a small amount of leisure time to spare during their trip and if you’re savvy, you can boost your revenues and customer service kudos by building leisure add-ons into their itinerary.
The options are endless; city tours, day trips, spas, restaurants, museums, attractions, experiences, sports events, theatre productions, music gigs, to name but a few.
If your client is travelling to Kuala Lumpur and you know they like golf, why not book them into the famous Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club, or KLGCC as it is known? Or if they are travelling inbound, to Dubai for example, get them VIP tickets for a music event, to which they can invite a corporate client.
The majority of businessmen who arrive in Dubai will be looking to make the most of their stay and will refer to listing publications when they arrive. They may even miss out on their chosen activity because tickets are sold out. Imagine if you could book it for them in advance, without them even asking? What about if you anticipated their needs and provided a value-added service that will keep them coming back for more?
This might sound time-consuming, but if you have the right technology in place that can do the work for you, it will take just minutes of your time.
Firstly, if your technology integrates sophisticated CRM capabilities, you will know your customers’ tastes and preferences and be able to tailor your leisure offering accordingly.
Secondly, if your technology can provide you with access to the best content, from core products such as air, accommodation and tours, to the aforementioned fiddly bits such as attractions, restaurants, spas, et cetera, all bundled into one package, it’s a no-brainer.
Crucially, the solution must give you rates, availability and the ability to book and confirm instantly, in real-time.
This is the next frontier in travel distribution and a vision that at Illusions has become a reality.
All of our technology from our off the shelf fully integrated solutions, to our online global travel marketplace, i-World Travel eXchange (iWTX), makes booking a complicated package, involving many facets, whether for business or leisure, possible.
Our system is built to optimise business processes, whether it’s CRM or booking engines, and all other front and back office functions a travel firm requires.
Illusions products are designed to bring simplicity and efficiency to the travel industry, helping companies to focus on customer service and maximise revenue.
By cleverly leveraging technology, the travel trade can thrive and start to take command of a leisure travel market brimming with infinite growth opportunities.