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Recommendations for a Travel Agency

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SIBM-Pune MBA-I HR Indian Tour Operators Analysis of Customized Tour Services Submitted By: Sumedha Bhardwaj (32156) Sonal Bhat (32157) Bhavika Mehta (32227) Esheet Modi (32228) Mahim Mongia (32229) Jyoti Saxena (32241) Contents 1. Executive Summary 2. Analysis Approach 3. Competency Model for Tourism Agents 4. Field Research: Onsite Mystery Shopping 5. Problems: People and Processes 6. Solutions and Evaluation of Alternatives 7. Recommendations 8. Conclusion Executive Summary

Customized Tours form an important part of the services offered by leading travel companies. Though the level of expertise in the group tours space is very good, customized tours because of their very complex nature, require a great deal of travel agent involvement.

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This requires competent and motivated travel agent workforce very responsive to customer needs. This space has been facing problem on three fronts: people, processes and systems to execute a customer order.

The analysis would be focussing on People and Processes part of such agencies. This report would discuss the approach of analysis, suggest competency model as a basis to evaluate people problems as well as a reference for recruitment and training, enlist insights gathered from mystery shopping, identify the problems based on this primary research and recommend set of solutions which can be implemented for both people and processes.

The client can choose a combination of solutions for various sub headings according to what is feasible and suitable to him. It has been consciously tried to recommend a solution which is easy to implement, requires minimal changes in the organization, involves minimal or no cost and practically possible. One of the main assumptions in the analysis is that management policy promotes ‘customer first’ philosophy and lays stress on human resources.

People – Recruitment – Training – Performance Appraisal Customized Tours Processes – Information Management – Hub and Spoke Model – Process Streamlining Scope of the Analysis Analysis Approach Travel Companies Visited: Kesari, Girikand, Cox and Kings, Kuoni Location: EGYPT Duration: 10 days, flexible up to 12-14, in end March Approach: ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Mention requirement as honeymoon package for gifting to your brother on his marriage Egypt DEFINITELY, Spain and Portugal TENTATIVE (Observe if they catch the clue) Need to make it special (Observe if they catch the clue) Add ODD destinations: Red Sea Coast, Sakkarah, Siwa Oasis Ask specifically about VISA, Money, Veg Food, Travel within Egypt, Airlines, 5* Hotel Rate the experience with people on a scale of 1-5 in the competency model excel sheet Based on weighted score, get a consolidated score for each travel company under each competency Draw correlation conclusion between actual company performance and the consolidated score Identify the problems based on the research and quantitative analysis Devise possible solutions and recommend an appropriate combination Setting questionaire and field research (Mystery Shopping) Setting Competency Framework (For evaluation of each company) Correlation analysis Problem identification Revisiting the best experience company for insights Recommend possible solutions Competency Model for Tourism Agents Competency framework plays an important role in all aspects of talent management: talent acquisition, talent development, performance management and talent separation.

A good competency framework, thus, should strengthen the various talent management processes. Managers can leverage the competency framework while bringing out job descriptions. Competency Model designed for this analysis contains 3 broad competency areas Competency Area Behavioural Description Often referred to as “soft skills”; represent personal attributes Weightage 0. 3 Knowledge Basic academic knowledge 0. 5 and skills required in tourism industry General managerial skills required for the workplace 0. 2 Managerial Evaluation Various weights are given to each competency area (comprising of a set of competencies) based on the desirability of the trait in the travel agent.

A comparative study is shown in the excel sheet in where each company is given point on a 5 point scale (5 – absolute presence of the trait, 1 – absolute absence of the trait) for each competency with in a competency area. These individual competency points are then summed up for each competency area, the sum then multiplied with the corresponding weights and a sum total of the scores is obtained. A higher score indicates that the company has higher level of favourable competencies in the travel agent. Benefits ? ? ? ? Indicates the areas of improvement Guidelines for recruitment processes including job description Helps in designing the training modules Find gaps in performance and provides a framework to evaluate individual performance Field Research: Onsite Mystery Shopping 1. Cox & Kings ?

Very responsive and warm o When asked for customized trip, they were quick to respond and asked for a day’s time o They asked for the basic details as to how many days, tentative date etc. o Asked us to write on a piece of paper what all places we wanted to visit and the contact details o When asked about the exchange rates, they gave the printout of the same ? They had a fixed format for even the honeymoon package for couples already ? Did not respond in a day and had to call them up for asking the quotation ? Follow up was after that was good o They clarified a few points and sent the quote for the same as per our requirements 2. Girikand ?

Not very responsive o Nobody was willing to attend to the queries o Conversed in local language o Lack of warmth (no one was smiling) ? Lack of knowledge as far as foreign tours are concerned o More proficient in domestic tour – even suggested one o Long time taken to get the information ? Willing to arrange for a customized package ? Operational inefficiency o Database team had already left at 6pm o No response from central office also ? Not proactive o We had to suggest them to contact us after getting the information o They asked us to send them a mail as a reminder for the quote o No follow up done even after receiving the mail from us ? They suggested for a coach instead of a car citing the advantages 3. Kuoni ? Lack of warmth – No smiles ?

Responsive o Had no readymade catalogue but made an itinerary when asked for ? Operational Issues o Took Time to provide required information due to database server issue ? Not proactive o Did not ask for details or make suggestions o No contact through email but through phone only initially o No follow up done 4. Kesari ? Closes at 6 PM on a prime working day in Pune ? Responsive o Customer rep gave the card and contact details Problems: People and Processes Problems with the Staff ? Sales persons given targets to achieve, which focuses on the volumes to be achieved, so incentive required for catering to the FIT (Free Individual Traveller) is missing Employees fail to understand hat, there are more profit margins, so in reality chase to achieve volumes for profits, as no incentives given by the top management for the promotion and service delivery to FIT, and performance measured only on the volume achieved Training received only catering to the group tourism, so there is no extra knowledge about the travelling and exploration in the employee, about different countries, so the FIT suffer Lack of sufficient data and information in the available database at work, so the employees require a lot of time in searching the required information and details As most of the time the employees are presses for time to cater to groups, they are left with no time to cater to FIT As the companies are in operation for a long period of time, the travel agents and the staff therefore, think that they are the professionals in the business, but in reality they lack professional methods of working as there is lack of proper training of business and methods of work Personal bias of the employees for neglecting FIT, because their focus is on earning fast money by employees, as everything is already structured and planned for a group, so there is minimal work Lack of understanding of employees about their growth prospective in the organization, causing lack of loyalty ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Problems with the Management ? More and more pressure on the employees to achieve more volume in sales targets of tour packages, to meet prior deal argets with hotels and airliners, as money is already paid in advance for availing group discounts and low rates, and Popularity of the firm also depends on higher volumes achieved Reluctance of the top management to employ more employees to cater to the FIT, thus causing over burdening of work on a few employees Lack of universities and formal education centres providing the required knowledge to enter the industry, posing a Staffing problem, to the top management, as there is no special qualification required for a job in this industry No incentives given for the sale of packages to FIT More attention on poaching employees from other operators based on the employee’s tour selling ability, leading to lack of loyalty in the employees, causing high attrition rate Even as the top management understands that more profits can be obtained by selling more to the FIT, they still have to focus only on high volumes, as the company image goes don if there is low volume, and the shareholders are pleased only when they see high sales, and higher numbers. So FIT suffer in the bargain to please the shareholders ? ? ? ? ? Solutions and Evaluation of Alternatives Data Management As all the details of the prices of the Airline tickets and the Hotels and Tours packages are received at least 3 months in advance, the agency has ample time to arrange the information proper into a word document. How this can be done is shown below: ?

The data about the prices and the offers are not received daily or monthly, but are received by the travel agents season wise, so the information available does have not to changed or renewed at a very frequent rate The data about different countries and the set or model tour packages can be prepared in advance and saved Along with the set tours, the agent can also prepare a document in which the prices of the different destinations of the same country, along with the price quotes of the places to visit and lodging & boarding can be maintained. Thus when the customer wants a customized tour package, this document can be used to prepare the quotes of the trip as per the requirements An excel database with one consolidated interface and one excel sheet per country (containing country specific data) can be created. ? ? ?

Lack of information of the destination If the staff members do not have the information about the destination where the customer wants to travel to, the following are the options that he has to obtain all the required information: ? Most of the travel agencies have a tie up with a local tour operator in different countries who cater to the customers’ trip during their visit to that country, so the staff can contact their tour operator, and get all the information required for a visit to their country by the customer. These tour operators also have set tour packages and also have a list of different things the tourists can do during their visit to their country.

This can easily be used for obtaining fast information about the prevalent rates and passed on to the customer If the travel agent does not have a tie up with any tour operator in the country the customer wants to visit, then he can use the internet to browse the web site of the tourism board of that country. The site generally contains all the information about which places to visit, what different things that the tourists can do in their country. Thus a lot of information can be obtained from this source. If any specific information is not available on the web site, there are always the contact numbers or mail addresses of the tourism boards which can be used to solve the query. ? ?

Moreover, all the national airlines of the countries also have information about the different tour operators that can be contacted in their country. Along with that, the web sites of these airlines also have a suggested itinery of what all a tourist can do while visiting their country. Along with that, if the travel agent wants to plan the trip for the customer, the airlines has a tie up with Hotels and tour operators themselves, so this can be booked for the customer as well Thus to-day the flow of information has become very fast and easily available, which can be used by the travel agents for their benefits. How to respond when the customer wants to do something apart from the normal tour?

Again the tourism department site has all the information what all different things apart from the suggested itinery that can be ventured and tried by the customer in their country. There is a separate section which has all the details of such excursions. For example: ? ? ? The tourism board site of Switzerland would have the information about the firms that are providing skiing lessons on the Zuomfrow glacier, their rates and timings. The tourism board site of Germany would have details about the Beer festival happening in their country, the timings and the season when it occurs The tourism board site of Egypt would have the information about rafting places in the Nile Thus all the information can be obtained and a customized tour package for the customer can be prepared effectively by the travel agent.

Co-ordination and customer response The staff members who are catering to the FIT (Free Individual Traveller), have to play the role of a co-ordinator between the different departments in the office like the ticketing, hotel booking, Visa and Accounts departments. When the employee plays a role of a co-ordinator, he keeps check on the different departments by demanding the confirmation of the bookings of the air-tickets, hotels and visa. Thus he can keep a check on these departments to obtain his work efficiently and timely, and at the same time can keep the customer fully informed about the progress on the package for his tour. Moreover, timely receiving of the payment for the tour of the FIT can also be made possible, and the customer would know exactly when and how much payment is to be made, so the funds can be arranged by him on time.

Thus by doing do, customer satisfaction can be achieved and the image and brand value of the firm can increase. Creating a separate FIT (Free Individual Traveller) department ? In the existing agency, the management can hire staff for the sole purpose of catering to the FIT, who would be trained only for such job, thus catering to the need of devising a customised tour package for such tourists Or else, the company have a separate department of experts in the FIT field, with the knowledge about the different countries at the company Head quarters only, whose sole job would be to answer all the queries of all the offices about the information required for catering FIT, along with planning packages for the FIT who come to HQ.

Thus time can be saved and work can be done more efficiently, as only this team has to keep on updating their information about the various tours, events, and excursions available in different countries along with changes that take place from time to time Another option would be to have a call centre by the company, which would hire employees for the sole purpose of answering all the queries about the different countries that crop up at all the offices. These employees can be given expert knowledge about the various countries that the customers travel to by exposing them to the certified courses available about the different countries on the tourism board sites, which are free of cost, thus become certified experts for providing travel solutions to that country Chennai ? ? Lucknow Pune HQ Mumbai Chandigarh Domain Experts Delhi Ahmedabad Kolkatta HUB and SPOKE Model Certified courses on Countries The tourism boards of the different countries have certified courses, which include specialized and complete knowledge about visiting and travelling their country.

The course includes: ? The different places that a tourist can travel in their country, and what different activities that a tourist can explore in the country apart from the usual sight-seeing ? The modes of travel available in the country and the pattern of operation of these modes of transport ? The different events that take place in the country on a regular basis along with their timings, costs and frequency (E. G Opera in Sydney, Australia) ? Special events and shows (like Cannes film festival, Milan fashion show, France auto show, T20 Cricket World Cup) happening in the countries during a particular year, along with the methods of access and booking plans

This certification courses are free of cost provided by the tourism boards for their specific countries. After the employee obtains this certification, he would have thorough knowledge of the country for which he would obtain the certificate. This certificates once obtained cannot be held for a life time, but for retaining the certificate, time to time updating is necessary. Here is no restriction on the number of certificates that an employee can obtain, so as per his calibre, he can obtain as many certificate for as many countries as he wants. Recruitment Recruitment of the right talent in the travel industry forms one of the critical issues. Traditionally, the approach is ? ? ? Recruit people ith ANY qualification who can speak reasonably well Stress on attitudes more than skills, salary issues with qualified people Bosses perspective dominant- no scientific process What is needed? ? ? ? Develop clear job descriptions based on the competency framework Use of IT in recruitment Develop a relationship with local colleges. In the final year, provide them with a tourism diploma along with an academic partner. Industry ready course, win-win for both. ? Training There are a number of things that are necessary to be kept in mind and to be taught to the staff catering to the FIT. The following is a list which shows a few important areas of training: ?

Before training the employee in the area of business of the firm, the employee needs to be taught the English language proficiently, as the employee would be in direct contact with the customers, and if he is not able to explain the customer the deals available clearly, then, the customers would never be able to gain the knowledge and information required for travel to the destination of his choice The employees have to be made very particular in recording the information of the requirements of FIT, and also their personal information, as any faults are intolerable To teach the art of co-ordination between the different departments, so that the work can be easily disseminated to departments of ticketing, Hotel and tour bookings, Visa and passport handling, and accounts Training in deviating the customer to agree with the deals given by the staff, which would work in the favour of the company, along with adhering to all the requirements of the customer on the tour. For E. G. the FIT want to travel to New Zealand on the 18th of November, with a family of 4, and on the other side, there is a tour of our company leaving also for New Zealand, but on the 16th of November.

If the staff is able to convince the FIT to travel on the 16th instead of 18th of November, there are a lot of advantages that the travel agency as such would be able to obtain. Like the agency has tie up for tours with the airline company for discounts on bulk tickets, and with the Hotels for group bookings, so the travel agent can book additional 4 tickets at the discounted prices and sell them on a premium at high price to the FIT, or can also pass on the benefits to the FIT. By doing so, the customer is also satisfied on getting cheaper deal, plus the customised package which is as per the requirement of the FIT is also taken care of, by providing the itinery as per his requirements, thus creating satisfied FIT.

Plus the prior deals made by the travel firm on the volume with the airlines and the Hotels can also be reached, which in turn leads to better brand value of the company, so better bargaining power for deals on travel for the travel agency. ? ? ? This would lead to employees having better knowledge about their area of work, more clarity on the methods to be followed. Leading to the employees being able to educate the customers in a better and an elaborate way, thus leading to higher customer satisfaction, repeat business and higher image of the company, as well as increasing profits manifolds. Performance Evaluation Performance evaluation is a method to evaluate the job performance of an employee; it is used as a means for incentives, increments and promotions.

Various performance indicators are taken into account for measuring the performance. For travel agency employees, following aspects can be worked upon ? ? Incentive based on conversion rate – Associating incentives to the number of successful sales e. g. for every 5 sales done a commission of 5% of the sale Customer feedback – Feedback forms filled in by the customer can be taken into account to gauge the attitude and behaviour of the employee- can be used for Performance Appraisal Efficiency regarding the sending of documents, invoice, answering customer queries, etc. ? ? Recognizing performance via websites, company notice boards etc. Recommendations 1.

The travel agency can train the existing staff by providing specialized knowledge about the different countries by certified courses to cater to FIT. 2. The travel agency can have or hire special staff for catering to only FIT. 3. There can be a specialized staff only at the head-quarters with the overall knowledge about the different countries and can provide all the other offices with the information as and when required. 4. The company can set up a call centre where the staff with adequate knowledge about the countries and all the activities and excursions possible in those countries, and their sole purpose would be to answer all the queries about the FIT about special packages for FIT in different countries. 5.

As the company has nationwide exposure, there can be a number of FIT at different places at one point of time, at different offices, in turn creating a pool of FIT for the company, which would then give the Management of the firm, a better bargaining power with the Airlines for tickets, the Hotels and Tour Operators for better deals, thus leading to better profits. 6. The company can streamline the processes by giving a flowchart and a checklist which can be used during the first, intermediate and final meeting with the customer. Conclusion The client can implement the recommended solutions and have improved performance provided proper periodic checks are done during implementation.

Cite this Recommendations for a Travel Agency

Recommendations for a Travel Agency. (2018, Feb 20). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/recommendations-for-a-travel-agency/

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