If you are a travel agency or a tour operator, particularly one dealing in FIT tours and boutique vacations, a big part of your job is building highly personalized itineraries and proposals for clients, typically spreading over several days, sometimes covering multiple destinations.
For this you need to put together a plan for the client comprising of multiple travel services, i.e. Flights, accommodation, sightseeing, ground transportation, meals etc. The longer the trip, the more complex the plan, the more time and effort you need to spend.
Creating itineraries is time-consuming, right?
Imagine this scenario: You get an inquiry from one of your clients, looking for a 10-day vacation in Western Europe. They provide you with a rough budget, and their preferences for the flights, accommodation, sightseeing, meals, etc. Based on that you need to build a custom itinerary and send them a proposal.
So, you email your vendors for availability and pricing, or log into supplier systems. To get the best possible inventory, you scan multiple supplier systems, copy all the relevant data onto a spreadsheet, then paste all the details into a word document to create the itinerary proposal, and finally email the itinerary as an attachment to the client for review.
The client asks for changes(as they often do), along with additional details and photos of the hotel room(s) or any attractions or activities that you have added in the itinerary. So, you repeat the whole process and end up with a long email (or Whatsapp) thread!
After all the back-and-forth communication, once the client approves the itinerary, you take the payment the client for confirmation(full or partial depending on your relations), log into the supplier systems to book the different components or you send the booking request through offline channels if you have allotments for the hotel(s) or activities in the itinerary. Finally, upon supplier confirmation, you create a voucher and mail it to the client.
This entire process is extremely time-consuming and cumbersome. Moreover, today’s internet savvy clients are more demanding than ever before, expecting attractive itineraries covering all the necessary details that help them visualize the trip. Just converting an excel sheet into a pdf and sharing that with clients will not cut it.
As an agency you will need to be able to create modern, content rich proposals to convert inquiries into sales. Doing this manually can take a lot of time and effort, even if you have a couple of templates ready.
What if you could simplify this process and impress your clients?
Instead of spending more time than you need to on manually creating itineraries and proposals, you can use TravelCarma’s Itinerary Builder to generate professional looking itineraries in a fraction of the time, while producing a far better output than using Excel/Word.
Our itinerary management software is a purpose-built solution that can save you thousands of hours of manual work through a user-friendly interface with tons of features to help you generate beautiful itineraries and automate several repetitive actions. Let’s see how.
How our Itinerary Builder makes your life easier
Consolidates your live inventory
TravelCarma Itinerary builder can connect to your third-party suppliers (GDS & Non-GDS) to fetch live rates and availability for flights, hotels, sightseeing and transfers via API. So, if you have access to APIs from GDSs like Amadeus or Travelport, or bedbanks such as Hotelbeds or DOTW, we can integrate them and you’ll start getting live inventory from these suppliers in the system.
Moreover, if you want to use our CRSs (Inventory Management Systems) for your direct contracts, the Itinerary Builder can also pull data from the CRS to show contracted inventories, along with API feeds.
This way you and your staff can get a unified view of all your inventory, rather than jumping from one supplier system to another or sending emails for availability and pricing.
Makes it super easy to add items your itinerary/proposal
With our itinerary builder you no longer need to manually copy data from different sources to an excel sheet or word document to build an itinerary. You can simply use the built-in search engine to look up and add flights, accommodation, transfers and sightseeing to your itinerary/proposal.
Our solution gives you access to global travel content for flights, hotels and attractions to help you make informed decisions, in addition to saving you a phenomenal amount of time that you would otherwise spend scouring the web for details.
Our search engine also provides various sorting options and filters to help you find the best available options for your clients quickly. Our search workflow is based on the standard OTA interface which everybody is used to these days, so you’ll feel right at home the moment you start using the system! Just enter your search criteria and select the desired items from the search results for your itinerary/proposal, with the click of a button!
In addition to using the search engine to create itineraries, you can also add flights, accommodation, activities and transfers manually through a short form where you can fill details pertaining to each item that you want to include in the itinerary/quote, such as item name, location, dates, pax, duration, price and notes/description.
Allows you to add your custom content
In addition to integrating live inventory from third-party suppliers, we also provide the flexibility to add your own custom content to the plan. These may be special services/experiences you offer that aren’t necessarily available through your online suppliers. Maybe you want to offer your clients an exclusive wine tasting & pasta making class in Tuscany, or a Samurai experience in Osaka they’ll remember for the rest of their life. Just add them to the itinerary through the ‘Custom Item’ option.
You can also use this feature to add ancillary services like visa, insurance or currency exchange to your proposal. The custom item feature provides complete freedom to add anything you wish to include in the itinerary/proposal with 100% custom titles, description, pricing etc.
Automatically generates your itineraries and proposals
As we mentioned in the start of the article, the bulk of your time goes into copying data from different sources into spreadsheets or word documents, formatting them, may be add some photos etc to design the itinerary/proposal and finally draft an email to the client and send it with the document attached.
Our Itinerary Builder eliminates all these hassles and automatically generates professional looking itineraries and proposals, saving you a lot of legwork. As you add items from the live inventory or offline inventory, the system automatically starts populating the itinerary with those options, arranging them day-wise.
Once you have added all the items, you can either save the itinerary or send it to the client. The system allows you to see a preview of the email that’s going to be delivered to the customer. The email is automatically designed by our system with the introduction, the itinerary itself, with all the photos and other details, along with your logo and contact information.
Stores all your itineraries & quotes in one place
Another major issue solved by the itinerary builder is keeping a track of all your itineraries and quotes. When you create itineraries offline, using spreadsheets or word documents, you amass a large volume of files that are painful to organize and sift through when you need to send a proposal, or follow up on the progress.
As your clientele grows, so do the number of itineraries you need to create and juggle. This can lead to delays, errors and mix-ups!
With our itinerary builder, all your itineraries, whether they are completed or in-progress, are saved and organized in a separate section in the system — just a click away. The title of each itinerary contains client name and trip dates, so you know exactly who it’s for from the list itself. This completely eliminates any margin for error and ensures all the proposals are sent to the correct recipients.
Allows you to book the itinerary from the system itself
Our itinerary builder also provides you the unique ability to book the itinerary/proposal on behalf of your clients. To avail this feature, you need to have APIs or use our CRS. Once the client has approved the itinerary, you can go ahead and book the flights, hotels, transfers and activities included in the itinerary with the latest prices, subject to supplier availability of course.
If you don’t have access to APIs/direct contracts, you can make bookings externally (GDS/B2B Login/OTA/offline) and manually enter the booking details in the system for recording purposes.
Ability to import reservations will also be available in the future.
Top 4 Advantages of using our Itinerary Builder
• Create itineraries and proposals with your branding in minutes, not days
• Get live pricing from all your inventory sources on a single screen
• Store, copy and reuse itineraries/quotes to save time and effort
• 100% cloud based — create and send itineraries from anywhere, anytime!
Originally published at TravelCarmaBlog “How an Itinerary Builder makes life easy for Travel Agents and Tour Operators”