Rob Darby discusses how travel agents can ensure healthy revenue streams in 2016 by paying attention to the ‘seamless travel’ trend and offering an exceptional customer experience…

2016 will be the year of ‘seamless travel’ for customers and agents alike. The ability to sort and organise everything in one go is crucial for time-poor holidaymakers who demand the most convenient and efficient ways of booking and organising every aspect of their trips.

Last year, cashless payments surpassed the use of notes and coins for the first time, with cash volumes expected to deplete by a further 30% in the next ten years. This may come as no surprise to agents who undoubtedly have noticed a mounting decrease in the numbers of holidaymakers taking cash abroad, which has prompted further advancements in payment technologies.

Not only are customers now more inclined to use plastic while abroad, they are more receptive to a one-stop-shop offering from travel agents. With limited time on their hands, agents that can offer them both travel and currency solutions at the same time will tick a box for convenience.

By supplying a prepaid currency card as part of the holiday transaction, the business will reap the rewards as it matches consumer requirements for convenience therefore driving sales. Agents will also benefit from MI that is delivered on customers’ wider travel habits and, most importantly for distributing partners, prepaid programmes that provide a competitive commission model will deliver significant income returns.

The speed with which agents service customers is also important in an era of instant gratification and convenience.

In 2014, more than 1.6 million travellers bought their foreign currency at British airports on the same day of travel, showing forward planning for this kind of purchase is low down on the list of priorities for holidaymakers. Furthermore, the emergence of payment technology such as Pingit, an instant money transfer app, demonstrates that consumers have grown accustomed to immediacy.

With this in mind, agents that adopt Instant Issue prepaid cards can further enhance the customer experience, as they can provide an exceptional service to those passengers who leave it until the last minute to organise their travel wallet.

Tuxedo’s partner-led payment technology solutions are developed to answer an inherent need for flexible and convenient solutions. For example, agents can now issue Tuxedo’s Escape Travel Money Prepaid MasterCard instantly through a sales portal and it is immediately active. The user experience of ordering and loading travel cards is now completely seamless and fuss-free and we expect businesses to see a minimum increase of 50% in sales of the Escape Travel Money Prepaid MasterCard Cards. The programme eliminates the need to input customer information multiple times, creating a single basket transaction process

According to Gartner, in just a few years, 89% of businesses will compete mainly on customer experience, versus 36% four years ago. Agents that can deliver seamless travel will be the most lucrative in 2016.

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