While aviation has always been a tech-savvy industry, its cousin – travel management – is now catching up with the trend. Middleware is invading travel agencies as they seek to reduce production costs: with personnel, paperwork and multiple apps. The paradigm is rapidly changing: travel companies are willing to invest in 1-2 advanced solutions which will substitute a complex system of disparate software and start receiving a return on investment as soon as possible. According to the newest report by Technavio, the global travel technologies market size will grow by USD 6.4 billion during 2019-2023.
Connecting Software is going to take a closer look at travel tech middleware as our team has recently been reinforced by an expert in this area. Eduardo Coreixo, our Sales Director and Business Development, previously worked for several air travel management technology companies and has gained experience in this field.
Now, with the insights from both sides of the field, Eduardo Coreixo has analyzed the air travel management areas which are experiencing the biggest digital transformation. In his opinion, the next few years it will all depend on middleware which helps various systems to communicate in a smooth manner. And of course, IT companies like Connecting Software which create innovative integration and synchronization solutions.
He names five main areas where integration software will make the biggest difference.
Connecting travel agents directly to airlines skipping flight aggregators
One of the biggest trends is about how travel companies receive flight data from airlines. In the past, they would operate information from flight aggregators or Global Distribution System (GDS) which was a layer between an agent and an airline.
Now, thanks to a new program of airlines regulator IATA called New Distribution Capability or NDC Program, the middleman disappears.
By cutting one step of data flow, travel agents ensure bigger profit margins since they don’t pay transaction costs to GDS anymore, also receive exclusive rates from the NDC channel and get access to a larger variety of flights and ancillaries (extra baggage, legroom, Wi-Fi, etc.).
Of course, not all companies have introduced the NDC standard to their workflow yet, but many are on the way. And this is exactly the area where middleware will play a big part in streamlining the workflow of air travel management firms.
Connecting a B2B client to a travel agent’s platform
Another area of rapid transformation is business travel - the most lucrative park for travel agents. The advance has to do with the creation of a custom flight search platform solely for B2B customers of a travel agency – a specially dedicated one rather than a general flight search platform for usual customers.
Now, if an organization needs to book a flight for an employee, they access a platform provided by their travel agent, usually with exclusive discounts on flights. This facilitates the process for both sides immensely: the company has the flights options and other data on their screen backed up with required financial documents and service, and travel agents can focus on actual work rather than emailing.
This only happens due to system integration through companies like Connecting Software. Previously, the GDSs were self-sufficient, and nowadays applying middleware means more saving.
Connecting travel apps to CRM, ERP systems
While there are a lot of front-end solutions for travel agencies, a certain void is observed at the backend. What many travel agents lack is the integration of travel apps to CRM and ERP. A huge ecosystem needs solutions which will not take much money and time on the company’s side, as well as prevent downtime.
In this case, an integration platform is a good option. Where custom development will take months of programming and testing, a platform such as Connect Bridge will reduce the code to up to 90%. And because Connecting Software works a lot with business apps, the platform already has pre-built connectors for Salesforce, Dynamics 365, SugarCRM and various ERP systems which turns the integration relatively fast and easy.
Bleisure – connecting business and leisure
Gone are the days when companies sent their employees to conferences on a tight schedule not allowing any detour or entertainment. Now they don’t mind if an employee takes extra 1-2 days at the conference venue for recreation or invites their spouse on the trip. Although most often such “extra” happens on the employee’s budget, it is still for the travel agency to solve this complex itinerary.
Bleisure travel is a combination of “business” and “leisure”. After this term nested in travel agencies’ vocabulary, dedicated software development has started to match the reality under formation.
In the past, a travel agent needed to make such a complex reservation manually. Now, thanks to the rise of middleware, the booking systems can be integrated into one making air travel management more automated.
Making more with less
As aviation deals with travelers’ security on board, travel agencies take care of customers’ data security since they operate with personal details, credit cards, GDPR compliance, etc. To deal with this abundance of sensitive information, they would usually need several types of software: for invoicing, profile management, CRM, ERP and so on. Even more, if they had separate back offices for B2B clients, B2C clients, etc. Connecting this dispersed software will make a lot of sense in this situation and will allow lean management, timesaving, document collaboration – together with enhanced security.
Besides, managers in such companies often work via several mailboxes. So every time they need to log in and out of accounts and make sure they don’t have any overlapping appointments. Integration software has already solved this issue with synching multiple Outlook accounts so that calendars, emails, tasks, contacts are available through one another making the business process smoother and simpler.
International tourism and travel have been increasing over the last years and the tendency will continue. However, at the same time travel agencies are under the risk of extinction due to the spread of end-user travel apps. And the only way to prevent it is to engage technology which creates a cost-effective workflow and deliver innovation both to customers and airlines in the fastest, economical and passenger-oriented way.
Since travel agencies are welcoming digital transformation and look for integration and synchronization solutions, it is a hot time for companies producing middleware. We already have two big players from the travel management area who are potentially interested in joint projects so Connecting Software is excited to embark on this this journey.