Coming up on its second anniversary in the United States, Excite Holidays is planning to roll out a number of new features to its booking system, says VP Global Sales, Product Contracting & Operations Andrew Yell. The company is also working to meet increased demand for unusual accommodations.
What is your focus on the U.S. travel agent for 2019/20?
We have some new system features being finalized at the moment that will enhance the user experience on our system to be released later this year. While we have been in business for over 17 years now, we are just coming up to our two-year anniversary in the USA. We doubled our team in May to support the tremendous growth we are enjoying, so all very positive for the future as I see it. We are so lucky with huge demand from travel bookers to get a login to access our site; the referrals are very flattering. As more travel bookers get on to the system, we see they just love the choice and simplicity we offer and they are telling their colleagues. We offer a “tips and tricks” welcome webinar to ensure the new users get off and running with all the best features of our system. Most are thrilled to see our commission adjustment tool, which allows them to control their earnings.
What are some of the newest trends you are seeing with your customers?
This year, we are seeing great interest in more bespoke and boutique accommodations all over the world. Our customers are searching our system for castles in Europe; villas, ryokans in Japan; palaces in India; paradores in Spain, as well as small luxury hotels. We are able to fulfill all of these requests out of our 400,000 strong section of places to stay from one-star hostels to six-star palaces.
Have you modified your offerings to meet these trends?
Absolutely, we only work with travel professionals so we take their feedback to heart. With the uptake in prebooked activities we have increased our product offering to over 114,000 sightseeing options, airport lounges, shore excursions and multi-night tour options in addition to our strong accommodation offering.
Within the existing destinations that you offer, what new products are available?
We update the system every week and new products come, which ensures we always have the most up-to-date product range in all areas. We partner with specific partners, who provide products, as well as our own direct contracts giving a full choice in all areas. Our industry is always fluid with new openings, closings, rebranding and brand new experiences being introduced constantly. At Excite, we endeavor to keep up to date with our dynamic rates and real time availability, giving travel bookers access to real availability and the best rate of the day at all times.
What are some of the challenges on the horizon for tourism in general?
Consolidation of large industry players always changes the dynamics; however, advances in technology will be a challenge for everyone from consumers to travel bookers to keep up with and embrace the new tools to help them become better businesses and maintain their customer loyalty. Contracting margins mean travel bookers need to be more mindful of their ability to yield to specific customers and keep up to date with the changing consumer trends.
Any unique opportunities in light of domestic or global happenings?
From where I am looking, the next 12 months have so much potential for growth and to be a traveler at this time has never been better with choice and accessibility. We’ve experienced fantastic growth in the first half of this year, and some of the destinations that we are seeing a lot of interest in include Italy, Portugal and the Netherlands, and Scandinavian countries like Sweden and Iceland.