How To Catch Bookings and Scale Fast As Soon As The Travel Ban is Lifted

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Platform Vs App

As a tour operator, trip planner, or a retreat organizer committed to recovering post-covid, you need to the technology to gain resilience and recover fast. To take advantage of the upcoming travel boom, think about it strategically – the number one step is to identify the key business problems.

You can find that you focus on more than one key problem, and that’s Ok. For every key problem, look for the solution that is a) Cost efficient AND b) Can scale with you (or easy to change out). Repeating this process as the company grows will allow you to adapt technology over time and build your so called “tech stack” over time, rather than investing big from the start. {image}

Today one of the most effective ways for a travel related service provider to adapt the right technology is to utilize platforms.

WHAT IS A PLATFORM?

In the past if a travel company wanted to launch or expand their business the option was either to build the product or acquire it by buying another travel company. Today small businesses have access to a more efficient, quicker and generally more profitable model of utilizing a PLATFORM as a collection of services shared by users usually via a web or a mobile app.

Generally, platforms are a MUCH cheaper way for everyone to take advantage of advanced technology that allows you to self-configure rather than custom build. Think about travel management technology as if you were building a house:

You can go to an architect and have it completely drawn from stretch, everything exactly how you want it. It will be personalized for your demand, yet very expensive to build and maintain. OR you go to a builder who has a general blueprint for a house. You get to choose details to configure it, yet it’s generally the same from person to person. The latter generally saves you a big bulk of resources – that’s what platforms do.

Here are some examples of the platforms that help travel organizers manage trips:

  • Facebook and Instagram are social media platforms.
  • Google Analytics is the platform to help you monitor marketing efforts.
  • MailChimp is a platform for sending bulk emails
  • Hootsuite automates your media sharing
  • Zapier connects a variety web applications
  • YouLi is a group travel booking and management platform for tour operators

Each platform specialize in the particular area. One may provide a trip CRM helping you save time managing bookings, payments or documents, others could help you get noticed in the market, third provide convenience for your clients. What you are looking for is an ability for your platforms to talk to each other via integrations.

Platforms make it possible to build your tech stack without any help from the software developers.

Ten years ago you had to hire a developer to custom build your software, and that was very expensive. Today, you can sign up for many business platforms and immediately start using them for your business. That is a huge transformation in a technological field.

Be aware, your business may still require a combination of custom built software with a variety platform, yet the less you have to deal with it, the better. Remember, that the platform builders are the ones who have to take care of the security, updates and maintenance. So you really want to do the least amount of custom building.

WHAT IS A BOOKING PLATFORM?

A booking platform is a piece of a software used for reservation management. It is designed specifically for travel and hospitality businesses and helps agents, destinations and tours operators accept and manage bookings online in a simpler, better way.

Remember that functionalities of the booking platforms may vary depending on their purpose, the price will vary accordingly. Learn the 5 Questions to ask before committing to a booking platform.

YouLi combines itineraries, payments and CRM under the umbrella of all-in-one platform.

MOBILE APP Vs WEB APP

The reality is, every mobile app is built on top of a web platform (web app) behind the scene. There is no such a thing a stand along mobile app without a web app behind it.

So, do you need a mobile app for YOUR business? Of course the answer depends on your business model. A few things to consider are:

  • Cost of building and maintenance
  • Effectiveness of your app as an acquisition tool
  • Communications and on-boarding process for your travelers

Consider your key business problems and costs as your build. For example, a responsive web app may fully satisfy your business needs without the need to invest in a mobile version.

COST OF PLATFORMS

Platforms in the travel industry can be generally categorized into

  • White-Labelled SaaS (like YouLi, Mailchimp, TypeForm, Rezdy)
  • Marketplaces (Retreat.guru, AirBnB, TourRadar)

While SaaS companies are essentially renting you the software product for a fee of a monthly subscription, marketplaces charge % per booking commissions.

Generally, it is a good idea to shift from marketplaces towards SaaS (Software as a Service) platforms as you grow and build your own audience. Remember that non white-labelled platforms like for example Facebook, do come with the hidden cost of Adds that distract your customers.

White-labelled solutions, like YouLi, put YOUR brand ahead and allow you to keep your audience and scale smart by switching from a per booking fee to a flat rate.

QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN CONSIDERING BUSINESS PLATFORMS

This list will help you get oriented when adapting a new technology:

  • Is it free to start?
  • Does it scale?
  • What is the learning/adaptation time-period?
  • What is the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership)?
  • Does it integrate with your website, email, accounting software, etc.
  • Who owns the data?

This blog content is based on the educational webinar co-hosted by Travel Massive and YouLive To Travel – Group Travel Made Easy.

Catch full webinar recording here.
Sign up to YouLi – More Than a Booking Platform and create your first trip for FREE here. Ready to take off? Take advantage of the FUTURE READY package available for limited time.

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Jennifer Fein
Jennifer Fein
Jen Fein is the product visionary behind YouLi and epic group travel planner. After years of building digital products as an engineer and product manager for others, she’s now determined to make software that empowers passionate people to create unique group travel businesses. She is also the co-author of Ready to Start? Becoming an Entrepreneur in Australia.