FIT Travel: Two Most Common Pains Tour Operators Face And How Technology Can Solve Them

FIT travel

One of the common pain points that most mid to large-sized operators around the globe dealing with the FIT travel (Fully Independent Travelers) share is processing a vast amount of paperwork and documentation. 

When it comes to FIT travel, regardless if you’re a DMC in Johannesburg or an outbound tour operator in Reykjavik, a core part of your day-to-day work revolves around processing a significant amount of documentation: contracts with partners and customers, pricing lists, terms and conditions, back-and-forth communication, creating and adjusting offers and itineraries… you name it! 

On top of that, in many tour operating companies, these documents are not stored and processed in one central place but in various spreadsheets or separate operating systems in each department. A lot of work is done manually and takes more time (hence, more staff), shifting from one spreadsheet or one system to another, resulting in errors, bad customer experience, and ultimately, revenue loss.

Specifically, there are two main documentation areas that make up the most of the day-to-day work and impact business results: offer creation, and supply and bookings management.

FIT Travel Pain 1: Itinerary With Multiple Items

Creating an itinerary with multiple items is one of the most complex documentation processes. Depending on the customer’s needs and wishes, it can take a lot of time – up to a few hours per itinerary – while all the amendments need to be done quickly and accurately. 

If a tour operator doesn’t have a system that includes itinerary templates, each itinerary needs to be created from scratch resulting in inconsistent and unstandardized outputs. Every itinerary ends up looking slightly different from the next. After the creation and amendments, each document must be double-checked or tweaked before its sent out, wasting precious time. 

FIT Travel Pain 2: Supply Availability, Calculations, and Live Bookings

Calls and emails toward suppliers to check availability and confirm bookings only lag things further. Without a clear and centralized overview of all the items and their availability, wrong information can be sent to suppliers, resulting in unnecessarily wasting more precious time. 

Calculations are also a key part of the tour operator’s business. If done manually, they are prone to errors that lead to revenue losses.  

Not having a clear overview of reservation history is another pain point that can lead to miscommunication and a bad customer experience. 

All of this limits the growth and scalability of the business, while it can be easily solved with the help of the right technology. 

All-In-One Solution: Centralized System

To eliminate time-consuming manual work means gaining time that can be spent on more valuable and impactful tasks, such as creating more unique products and personalized experiences for the FIT travel cluster. The solution is to centralize all products (including accommodation, transfers, flights, activities, and tours) together with all the information regarding each of these within one platform. 

A core system such as Lemax enables travel companies to create, sell, and operate any travel product, custom multi-day FIT tours, or resell tours, with centralized and, more importantly – fully automated management of the entire booking lifecycle – from the first customer’s inquiry to the final realization. It opens door to more options and opportunities for revenue increase.

So, how does it work? A centralized, web-based software can easily be accessed anytime from anywhere. It enables you to digitalize the entire product database, eliminate multiple data sources, run calculations with automatically applied discounts and policies instantly, and load all contract data (prices, discounts, special offers, cancellations, availability, descriptions, photos, and anything else you might need when creating offers) into one system. This also allows you to create multi-day FIT tours with the entire product portfolio in one platform. You can search the products and build itineraries quickly, have all the history about passengers’ trips logged in one place, and customize itineraries according to your customer’s preferences, thus improving the experience even more. The software is flexible, and you can amend all documents in minutes.

Long-term Benefits

Besides easing day-to-day operational work and making it that much faster, there are some business-impactful long-term benefits of automating sales and operational processes toward customers and suppliers. The key ones are faster booking life cycle, improved customer and supplier experience, improved efficiency, cost reduction, and ultimately – increased revenue. 

“Our team was quoting in Excel with our old system 90% of the time! Now we have more than half of FIT bookings made and moved to Lemax; the process is straightforward, everything is harmonized – creating a booking and quote is the same process; once we create a quote and want to confirm it, with one click, we can change the status. Once we have the database with all products, you can leverage it in the booking process, easily search the products, find them, book, and materialize the booking.”

Marcel Grifoll, Group CFO at Asian Trails

Read full Asian Trails business case here.

Being fast and efficient in the everyday job is essential but being future-oriented is truly the only way for a company to move forward. Working with a flexible vertical SaaS solution enables you to be future-proof and scale your business further.

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