In today’s rapidly changing marketplace, travel agents need all the help they can get when it comes to servicing customers across channels and product types. Softvoyage, Canada’s leading travel tech company, recently announced the launch of two new powerful tools for Softvoyage customers and SIREV users.
1. A lot has been said about the need for the industry to support the mobile traveller. How important is it?
Langevin: Very important! Canada has over 20 million smart phone owners and close to 10 million tablet owners. There are now more visits to online travel sites coming from mobile devices (smartphones + tablets) than from PCs. People now spend as much time on the Internet using smart phones (35%) and tablets (15%) than on PCs (50%). Whether researching destinations, shopping/ booking travel products, planning activities, or during their trip, visitors are using a mobile device 20% to 30% of the time. Looking ahead, these numbers are expected to grow materially. So the mobile traveller is very important to the whole industry.
2. What is Softvoyage doing to help the industry service the mobile traveller?
Langevin: Since websites designed for desktops are often difficult to navigate and use for mobile customers with much smaller screens, Softvoyage designed from the ground up a new B2C travel-shopping interface. Every workflow and screen, from shopping to booking, have been optimized to make it easy to use for the mobile traveller. Mobile! is offered for both packages, hotels and flights and is fully integrated to Softvoyage’s control centre, so our customers can manage their mobile business from the same tool, benefitting from the same advanced inventory management and merchandising capabilities, detailed reporting, and powerful back-office integration. Several Canadian travel agencies and tour operators have since successfully introduced a mobile-friendly version of their site. And the results we see are impressive!
When we introduced the Personalized Brochure late last year, we made sure the interface would adapt to all types of devices. So when a travel agent on SIREV sends a personalized offer to a prospective buyer, he or she will be able to consult the brochure and complete the booking from both desktops and mobile devices.
3. It’s no secret that Softvoyage is building a cruise booking engine. What can you tell us about it? Why not earlier?
Langevin: Good question. The short answer is that we did not feel that the market was ready before. But travel agents tell us that more and more Canadians are now asking for cruises’ experiences. And the expectation is that this segment will continue to grow at a significant pace over the coming years.
What helps also is that cruise lines have made great strides with their own systems to enable third parties like us to connect to their inventory and create interfaces. The cruise lines have been fantastic to deal with. They believe in what we are doing and they are supporting us 100%!
4. When can we expect to see this new engine up and running?
Langevin: As interfaces with the various cruise lines are completed, we will put them live on SIREV one-by-one. You can expect being able to start booking by mid-October. We will launch B2B (Sirev) first, and then we’ll introduce a B2C version shortly thereafter. The feedback we will receive from the agents at the beginning is crucial for us to tweak where necessary. Our guys are doing a fantastic job on this development and all of us are very excited about it.
5. Do you offer any training to help agents keep up with those changes?
Langevin: That is a great question. We often provide personalized or à la carte training on a customer-by-customer basis. We also started a SIREV webinar series in 2014. These are 30-minute live sessions where our certified trainers present important features and changes, and provide deep-dive demonstrations of our various capabilities. Built around specific topics, our webinars are designed to address real business problems and opportunities faced by agents in their day-to-day activities. They are also very interactive as agents can ask live questions to our specialists. We have had hundreds of participants so far and the feedback is very positive and extremely useful. As we record live-sessions, SIREV subscribers can also consult our archive of past webinars anytime they want. Our next SIREV webinar is planned for October!