10 Issues to Consider When Investigating a Travel-Business Opportunity

 When looking for the best possible travel business opportunity for you, make sure to investigate these 10 issues before you get started. With the explosion of the online travel businesses, it’s important to protect yourself even more than before.1) What are the annual sales of the travel business you are investigating? If they won’t disclose their annual sales; that is the first sign to look elsewhere. Additionally, online travel agencies that have a very low annual sales volume are in danger of going out of business in this violent economy.2) What is the size of the support staff? How many employees are available to help you and your clients with questions? Some of these companies are so small that they simply can afford to have support staff.3) Is this company a card mill? A company that sells travel perks without actually selling travel is a card mill. If you are looking at a company that just sell “memberships” or “travel clubs” beware. They might be a card mill! Card mills are being targeted by the industry and may soon be out of business.4) Is the company you are looking into publicly traded? A company that is publicly traded is regulated, regularly audited, and has their financial information easily available. This is just another way to check the validity of the travel business you are interested in.5) Is the travel company you are checking out a leader or a follower? Is this company constantly adding new products and services or changing the travel experience or do they only react to others. Do you consider this company to be the Google or Microsoft of travel?6) Is this travel business opportunity recognized in the Travel Weekly’s Power List? This is just another way to check the validity of this opportunity.7) Does this travel business receive lots of publicity, either positive or negative? Most people do their research on the Internet, however you must realize not everything on the Internet is true or factual. Some companies utilize the practice of negative advertisement to attract new business. Mostly this practice is unethical and illegal. Take all of the information that you collect and make your own decision. If this company is the Microsoft of travel, I’m sure it will get a lot a publicity, good and bad that is not factual.8) Is this travel business a member of the Direct Seller’s Agency (DSA)? DSA is the national trade association of the leading firms that manufacture and distribute goods and services sold directly to consumers. This is just another way to check the validity of this opportunity.9) How long has this company been in the business of selling travel online? Many online travel companies are sprouting up all over the Internet quickly. As with any business, many fail within the first year because of the lack of capital and recognition within the industry. Travel is no different.10) Does this company primarily sell travel or travel a secondary product? In my opinion, this is a major red flag. If your company’s main focus is not travel, why would you want to be involved with it? The travel section of this business can easily be discontinued and you would be stuck with selling diet supplements.Be careful when checking out any travel business opportunity. Not all companies are created equal, regardless of price. The above tips will help you avoid making a mistake when choosing a travel company to work with. Travel is an amazing business, so starting out on the right foot will make it that much more enjoyable.

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Impact of Cloud Computing on Travel Industry

IntroductionThe last decade has seen major changes in the travel distribution landscape. First, it was the Internet that started a revolution and forever changed how the travel industry operates. This online boom followed by subsequent economic slowdown has created new dynamics in travel distribution. The proliferation of smart phones and social media has resulted in further creating both chaos as well as new opportunities. While opening up new avenues for growth, these developments have also created new operational challenges.Challenges faced by travel distribution industryDynamic DemandOne key nature of the travel industry is that the demand for travel is highly seasonal and cyclic. This creates a challenge for any operations manager in terms of capacity planning and right sizing of the IT support infrastructure. Planning for peak size can result in underutilization and lead to higher marginal cost. On the other hand, not planning for peak load runs the risk of lost transaction opportunities, unsatisfied customers and finally business losses. This is one of the primary reasons why most travel distribution players end up having higher IT infrastructure cost and lower operating margins.Increased Search VolumeIncreased number of travel portals along with a changing pattern of travel booking behavior of the travelers, has resulted in a huge surge in ‘look to book’ ratio. This increased number of availability request per booking now runs into thousands from a mere single digit number few years back, putting an enormous pressure on existing IT infrastructure. According to Pegasus Solutions, global processor of hotel transactions through the GDS and ADS channels, the look-to-book ratio soared to around +60% over 2009 levels and is expected to rise further. Today’s common look-to-book ratio is almost at a 2,500 -3,000 to 1, -primarily due to growth of online reservation and the changing consumer behavior who is now looking ‘value for money’ deals. For this, travel shoppers use multiple avenues such as search engines, referral sites, websites, mobile applications, and social media.Business DisruptionsJust prior to the recession, online travel booking soared to all time highs attracting further investments in IT infrastructure in demand anticipation. However, discretionary travel was one of the first spends that was cut down during the slowdown. This caused a severe strain on financials and travel companies had to rethink their models yet again.Increase in number of sales channelsPopularity of smart phones has persuaded travel players to embrace mobility as a medium to manage bookings and provide other experiences to increase customer stickiness. At the same time, social media sites have also become very popular and travel portals are trying to utilize this trend by integrating different social media components with their sites. Of course, more number of channels also increases complexities in product management.Cloud computing from a travel distribution perspectiveThe Cloud helps enterprises to have a dynamically scalable abstracted computing infrastructure that is available on-demand and on a pay-per-use basis. This model not only saves the IT teams from investing heavily on infrastructure, but also shields them from the intricacies involved in infrastructure setup and management. Presently, apart from providing the on-demand IT infrastructure, cloud service providers typically provide interfaces for other related IT management services. To understand the application of Cloud computing to the travel industry, availability searching or shopping is probably the best example; it is by and large the biggest resource consumer in a typical travel process. In today’s circumstances, travel enterprises who run their entire travel application on a single infrastructure platform put unnecessary stress on operational budgets. One of the probable solutions to this problem is to decouple the availability search functionality from the traditional CRS system transfer it on an infrastructure that can support flexible demand. At the onset, it seems to be a complex and upheaval task, as it creates operational challenges such as latency. However, these challenges can be handled through a cloud based solution which offers higher scalability by using modern architecture patterns. On the other hand, mobility is witnessing an unprecedented growth in demand – this is another area where a cloud strategy can bring in competitive advantages for travel organizations. The key challenges that travel enterprises are facing today regarding mobile and social media channels are manifold, viz.,
With the advancements of mobile devices such as iPhone, iPad, Android, Symbian, and Blackberry, travel enterprises need to invest in leveraging these to further their distribution and fulfillment channels.
Mobility, being a rapidly evolving technology, is difficult to predict in terms of short term as well as long term demand. Due to this, travel enterprises are facing a challenge in scoping the required infrastructure for supporting mobility channel.
Travel enterprises need to create a business model to measure increase in revenue and profit against the costs incurred on mobility & social media investments.Cloud based flexible and on-demand infrastructure enables a travel enterprise to offer mobility and social media channels without incurring any fixed cost. Using a cloud infrastructure, a travel enterprise can start in a small way and grow into these evolving markets with a lower risk and financial strain.Key concerns in adopting cloud based systemAvailability of a ServiceOrganizations worry about whether utility computing services will have adequate availability, and this makes them wary of Cloud Computing. But in reality, cloud infrastructure providers such as Amazon and Google have much lower outage compared to any internal IT system.Data lock-inThe primary way to access the cloud platforms is through proprietary APIs. Thus, enterprises feel that they cannot easily extract their data and programs from one site to run on another. But in reality, all major service providers have an obligation in their contract to return the data to the enterprise. These service providers also have data access APIs that can be used to extract data in standard formats.Data Confidentiality and Statutory RequirementsMany enterprises believe that their data will not be secure in the cloud, since current cloud offerings are essentially public networks. However in reality most of these cloud service providers have better data protection and security mechanism than most IT organizations. They achieve this through the usage of audit trail, encrypted storage, and network middle-boxes. Service providers also comply with various statutory and audit requirements related to enterprise and personal data security and usage.Integration with external systemsSince travel distribution systems interact with multiple external applications, travel enterprises always have a concern about integrating the cloud based system with other external systems. However, all major cloud service providers have web service interfaces that can be utilized to integrate the cloud based system with other external systems.Solution for the ‘long tail’As we know, the travel industry comprises of many small to mid-sized companies. A large majority of which are very entrepreneurial and niche in terms of the products and services they offer. Companies in this ‘long tail’ have little or limited IT knowledge or support and rely on numerous third parties for IT. Such companies always find it difficult to balance their IT spending between IT upgrades and innovating on their solutions, and this tends to become a barrier for business growth. Even today, many small time travel enterprises do not even have an IT system, because they cannot afford to setup an IT operation in-house. Economics of Cloud environment can change this basic premise and make it both affordable and beneficial for travel enterprises of any size who can use this service to derive a competitive advantage. Such an environment brings tremendous advantages to such companies because it also helps them to manage their cash flow better. At the other end of the horizon, start-ups are finding it easier to build and offer products like CRSs, tour operating systems, distribution systems or basic inventory systems on a SaaS model, which is a stronger value proposition and provides a competitive edge to their offerings.Business outcomes of using cloud based systemsFrom the above discussion we can conclude that travel enterprise can achieve business growth by leveraging the power of cloud computing:
A cloud-based solution reduces the total cost of IT ownership for the travel enterprises and offers performance, reliability, security, and flexible scalability advantages
Travel enterprises are able to increase customer base due to higher availability, low congestion, and additional sales channels
Competitive advantage to the small and mid-sized enterprise in the form of lower fixed or upfront capital cost
Improved operational efficiency due to low marginal cost
Ability to manage risks better by reducing fixed investment on any new initiative

Why is It Vitally Important to Buy a Travel & Medical Insurance When Booking a Trip

The high travel season is at the corner now. People from all walks of life around the world are currently busy searching for the best offers of air and land travel, accommodations, vacation packages to suit their dreams, needs and budgets. Some of them have even started to make their reservations.Here I would like to emphasize one vitally important thing, which is a must to remember when booking a trip, but ignored by a great number of travelers.Much has been written on the importance of having insurance coverage while you are on a trip, away from home. This is an issue that remains somewhat ignored by many travelers. After all, they have been traveling frequently for many years, and nothing happened so far to worry about. So, to buy a travel insurance should not a be a must. It is only an optional precaution!But, reality urges us to believe traveling anywhere in the world without protection today, is a vital mistake. Regardless of where you are traveling in the world, you must have an insurance coverage to survive any unexpected attacks and disasters, especially after the 9/11 attacks in the U.S.A.Let’s say, you have been planning the trip of your dreams for a long time; you have finally found the opportunity to make your long time dreams of a special trip come true.You are so excited! You have thought of all the details. You have been actively preparing for this travel; thinking, programming, shopping . . . spending a lot of time, money, and energy! You are proud of yourself that you have finally managed to materialize your dream!Your trip can really be an unforgettable experience from start to the end, on one condition.When booking your trip, you should have remembered that, like most exciting events in our lives, travel has some important risks, too. For example, potential medical and/or financial risks associated with travel, can suddenly turn all the excitement and pleasures of the trip to a nightmare.Your baggage and/or your hand bag with your money, passport, credit cards in, can be stolen leaving you desperate & frustrated in a foreign country.No one can guarantee that a natural disaster would not happen at the place you would be staying during your trip.An unexpected accident, injury or illness would suddenly ruin everything. In fact, in the recent years medical costs have increased dramatically, worldwide. How would you be able to pay the emergency medical expenses, expensive hospital bills if you needed an urgent treatment, or surgery and care during your travel when you have lost your money, credit cards, and passport? Isn’t it a real nightmare?In such a frustration, the only thing you would have needed to survive was a reliable medical and travel insurance policy, wasn’t it?.Especially in the light of the horrible threats on and after September 11 terrorist attacks, the war on terror, other ruthless terror attacks in Istanbul, Spain, Egypt and London, frequent flight disruptions and cancellations, airlines’ bankruptcies, and more. In addition, travel suppliers such as tour operators and airlines worldwide have made cancellation policies more restrictive.Therefore, if you have to cancel a trip, it’s likely that a big portion of your pre-paid travel expenses will not be refunded by travel suppliers.Recent SARS and bird flu threats have also been urging travelers and vacationers to seriously consider to buy a travel and medical insurance.Travel Insurance types and prices defer from one travel insurance provider to another.You have to review, compare and select the best offers to suit your personal needs.For instance, some insurance providers do not offer coverage outside the U.S.A. Some companies do not provide emergency medical coverage and care, while others do.Some airlines do not accept to be held responsible for the acts of God, weather problems, natural disasters, riots and unrests, SARS, bird flu, and similar outbreaks.The Insurance types you will need on a trip are reviewed below:Last Minute Cancellation InsuranceWith the last minute cancellation and/or interruption insurance you will get coverage on non-refundable deposits you had made when you bought your travel insurance. Read the fine print on the policy carefully when buying this insurance. You should discuss your personal needs with your insurance agent before buying it.Medical InsuranceThis is one of the most important insurance policies you should have. Buying health and medical insurance must be considered as an important part of your travel budget. You can face a health problem or an accident anywhere and anytime during your trip. Be sure your medical and health insurance policy covers illness, accidents, surgeries, hospitalization bills in the countries you will be visiting, emergency medical transportation to your home country. Please remember to have your policies with you when traveling, leaving the copies of your insurance policies with a relative in your home country, in case the policies you have with you are lost.Comprehensive Insurance PolicyThis policy generally covers emergency medical transportation and trip cancellation and interruption, plus other needs you would expect. This insurance costs 5 to 7 percent of the total cost of the trip. You should have it for your safety.What types of insurance policies do we need for a full protection?The Essential Insurance Types offered by most providers are Travel, Last Minute, Medical, Health, Life, Hotel, Cruise, Air, Vacations, Luxury, car insurance, sports, and Spa Insurance policies.Some travel insurance companies also offer affordable coverage for a wide range of winter sports including Ski, Off-Piste and Snowboarding.We might need not one, but several types of insurance policies according to the general conditions at the destinations we’re going to.If your your kids are going with you, many travel insurance providers let them go free with adults.Some companies provide policies for students, backpackers, cheap travel, holiday insurance, long stay, international, family travel, single travel, annual travel, annual multi-trips, and more. It’s good to know that in this cyber age, you can buy the insurance policies you need online, without even leaving your home.Most Travel Insurance policies cover Luggage Loss, too.But you should definitely ask about what’s covered and what’s not when choosing Travel Insurance Policy to buy. Do ask questions, all questions you might have in mind, until you get all the information you need. It’s much better to ask questions when buying insurance than to be sorry later.How can I find the best insurance type to suit my personal or family needs?When choosing a travel insurance policy to buy, you should get information on the offers of various insurance providers to compare.Knowing how time consuming is to search, compare and choose the best travel and medical insurance types and prices to suit your needs and budget, we advice to visit the websites where you can find lists and information about various offers, then compare them, and choose the best ones to suit your needs.You should keep in mind that buying your travel insurance through travel insurance providers, instead of travel agencies, would save you money in most cases.In the light of terrorist attacks, unexpected natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, deadly hurricanes, floods, epidemics, accidents, illness, SARS, bird flu, claiming hundreds of thousands of lives at many places around the world, especially in the recent years, every traveler must seriously consider to buy a travel health and a medical insurance, and some other insurance policies if needed, providing a reliable full coverage against both expected and unexpected threats.