Director of OTA and Meta Propositions, Travelport
As the world continues to grapple with COVID-19, many travel agencies are being inundated with requests to alter or cancel bookings. IATA is reporting 4.5 million flight cancellations until June 30, which means significant pressure on call centers and agencies across the globe to serve customers in a very short turnaround time.
Our industry has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic and as a result, travel agencies need to ensure their operations are as efficient as possible, with many working with a reduced workforce.
COVID-19 has resulted in a significant shift in how we work across the travel industry, with most of us working from home. It’s also resulted in a change in how we service our customers. The focus has moved from planning and booking to processing a huge number of refunds and rearranging trips, which means that many agents need to use new skillsets, tools, and capabilities.
The best way for your agency to maximize efficiency during this time is to ensure you have the correct tools in place, such as the Travelport Smartpoint GDS.
But you can only fully realise the value these tools bring if your agents are trained to use them effectively. Training will also help agents to come out of this crisis in a stronger position both professionally and personally.
Online GDS training
Online training is one of the best ways to get up-to-speed with the features available on GDSs that can help during this time.
For Travelport Smartpoint users, you can access training no matter what Travelport core you use.
The core modules that will be most relevant to agents right now are how to modify air, hotel, and car bookings.
Putting the right tools in place
Aside from upskilling on your existing capabilities, there are some other tools and support materials that will help tackle some of the challenges your agency may be facing. These are particularly helpful for managing ticket exchanges and refunds.
Ticketing can be a complex process, especially when it comes to changes including voiding a ticket, refunds, and forms of payment. As the COVID-19 situation continues to change quickly, many airlines have now extended the life of their tickets to up to two years. As a result, Travelport has now extended the validity of tickets from one year to two years for automated voluntary exchanges through our agent desktop and API channels.
For Travelport Galileo users, Ticket Assistant is a free and easy-to-use application available from our app store, Travelport Marketplace. Its features include:
- Add, amend or delete ticket modifiers (TMU) and ticketing (TKP) of filed fares. This includes applying form of payment, tour codes, net fare, endorsements, and so on.
- Update filed fares or issue the ticket
- A quick snapshot of tickets that appear in the PNR and their status
- Ticket revalidation
- Ticket void – and if the PNR is open with valid tickets, users can void multiple tickets at a time. There is also the option to manually enter a ticket number if not issued in the PNR or the PNR is not open
- Ticket refund – including full (one or multiple tickets) or partial (one at a time) refunds as well as cancel refund (one or multiple tickets). Also the option to manually enter a ticket number for full/partial and cancel refund if not issued in the PNR or the PNR is not open
These features improve efficiency overall, allowing your agents to service customer requests faster.
Mobile and web access to GDS
With a significant proportion of the world’s workforce now working from home, it’s crucial to be able to access the capabilities you need from devices such as mobile and personal computers.
Travelport Mobile Agent is a mobile application for iOS and Android that provides access to all Travelport GDSs. It includes features like linked commands, enhanced results, Pkeys, history, queues watcher, my PNRs and double window (to name a few), all available at the touch of a screen – no typing required.
In addition, Travelport WebAgent provides web-based GDS access for laptops and desktops. Available for all Travelport Mobile Agent users, this add-on lets travel agents work remotely on their Apollo, Galileo or Worldspan terminal on any big screen and benefit from the same features of Travelport Mobile Agent in Windows, MacOS, and Linux.
Some other apps and tools that will help agencies be more productive during the COVID-19 crisis include:
- INVOL App, which enables involuntary ticket exchanges in seconds
- Amtrak Booking App, which allows agents to retrieve, refund, and exchange Amtrak train tickets
- The latest ticket information, booking policies, and options
The best way for your agency to maximize efficiency during this time is to ensure you have the correct tools in place, and that your agents are trained to use them. Training will help agents to come out of this crisis in a stronger position.