DFK article by Steve Heller
November AFTA @ Work newsletter
It was a worry for the shopfront travel agent that, as the use of the internet increased, their businesses would decline.
Technology can be used in two aspects of the your business.
One is the use of computers and the internet to improve the resources that are available to the agent, and the other is for the record keeping accounting function that an agent uses.
I will look briefly at both of these and explain why an agency can use these to improve their business position rather than be worried about the competition.
In a previous article written for AFTA on how to grow your business I stated “The aim is to create a great business, one that does exceptional things day after day”.
Technology is just another of those tools that you can use in order to achieve this.
I will relate my own experiences when I have looked at travelling overseas. Sure anyone can book an internet flight from point A to point B on the internet, but what happens when you get to point B?
Most of us today, although we have the time to do the research on the internet, are time poor. This is where you as the travel agent have the opportunity to offer service and expertise on what I can do at point B, or better still, suggest that while you’re are thinking of going to point B why don’t you also consider point C as well!
Personal knowledge that you can share with your customers can beat a solo Internet search hands down.
My own experience is that a good travel agent can make life much easier for myself with my travel plans and in most cases the cost is no greater than if I were to book over the web.
It is up to you, the agent to sell this, it is just like the motto of AFTA “without an Agent you’re on your own”. The modern technology can be used to back up your advice but the expertise should be with you as the agent. Refer your customers to check out the hotels and the tours but ensure that you can give a competitive pricing on it all that they will make the booking through you, you will be available to back them up, they don’t need to worry when they turn up at a hotel and are asked “What booking??”.
It is essential that customers understand that you have their interests at heart and you are not in the business just to make a commission.
The other area where technology is taking over is in the back office. Accounting is now readily available in the cloud, more programmes are becoming available and prices are coming down.
We at DFK are working more and more with these suppliers and understand the needs of the agencies for cheaper and better programs.
One program that is becoming more popular is Xero which is a totally cloud based accounting package that works with various Add-On vendors writing modules for specific industries.
We are working currently with Xero to have some Add-ons specifically for the travel industry because again, quality reporting is essential for the efficient running of your business, especially in the maintenance of your profitability.
In summary, don’t be fearful of technology – it’s simply another tool to improve your position in the industry.
Steve Heller - DFK ANZ
Phone: +61 2 9264 5400,
Steve Heller is a Fellow of the Australian Society of CPAs. He joined the partnership in 2000 after having practiced as a sole practitioner for a number of years.
In addition to Steven being the firm's Information Technology specialist Steven conducts a busy practice of Accounting, Taxation and Audit clients with a speciality in the Travel industry.