B2B travel portals are the driving force behind today’s travel industry, and now might be the best time for your company to develop or optimize your own.
As the travel domain rebounds from the temporary impact of COVID-19, people are eagerly returning to their globetrotting ways. Market projections indicate that the industry could reach a staggering $854 billion by the end of 2023, with evaluations surpassing a trillion dollars by 2027.
Embracing a cutting-edge travel portal may just be the key to seizing this tremendous growth opportunity.
Why your company might consider developing a B2B travel portal
From destination management companies (DMCs) developing tailor-made itineraries to airfare comparison websites, all these platforms depend on the consolidated travel information provided by a B2B travel portal. The software of this kind plays a vital role in:
- Rate aggregation
- Large-scale booking management
- Customized itinerary planning
- Payment processing
Not long ago, many of these processes relied on spreadsheets and demanded manual labor from travel agents. A travel portal streamlines these tasks, connecting travel product suppliers with resellers more efficiently.
At Surf, we’ve been helping companies to streamline business processes since 2011, working hand-in-hand with our clients throughout the development process to provide effective solutions to genuine business challenges.
In this article, we’ll explore what makes a successful travel portal and how your business can benefit from this type of software.
Key features to look for in a travel portal
As you embark on developing a travel portal for the first time or consider upgrading an existing solution, here are the key features to keep in mind:
- Inventory aggregation: A travel portal needs to consolidate diverse travel products and services from multiple suppliers, offering a one-stop marketplace for resellers to search, compare, and book — ultimately saving time and effort.
- Real-time updates: The platform should deliver up-to-the-minute information on rates, availability, and other specifics — facilitated by frequent UI updates through modern server architecture and frontend tools like Flutter. This empowers your partners to make informed decisions and provide superior service to their customers, boosting loyalty.
- Dynamic pricing: Incorporating dynamic pricing allows suppliers to employ flexible pricing strategies based on demand, seasonality, and other factors. This helps foster robust relationships with major suppliers and aids resellers in offering competitive rates to their customers.
- Booking management: Streamlined booking management lies at the core of a B2B travel portal, enhancing the efficiency of travel agents when making and managing reservations.
- Integrations. Allow partners to adapt your solution to their processes, such as connecting the travel portal with CRM systems for effective customer management, or integrating payment apps to streamline accounting and minimize errors.
Travel portals are, by nature, complex projects with a broad scope of functions. Travel portals must cater to suppliers (large enterprises) and resellers (varying from large to small businesses) while handling vast amounts of data.
This complexity inevitably expands the project scope, making thorough planning essential to avoid wasting time due to undefined technical architecture, unclear Minimum Viable Product (MVP) specifications, or gaps in technical documentation.
At Surf, we help clients with accurate project outlines along with cost and time estimates within our zero-sprint activities. This is a 1-3 week planning and research phase, during which, we collaborate closely with the client’s team to identify business challenges and devise both conceptual and technical solutions.
This helps manage risks and plan better, with tools such as:
- A design concept for key app screens
- A specification document detailing the MVP
- A development roadmap including costs and timeframes
- A risk management plan
The benefits of B2B travel portals — for you and your partners
The travel booking process is increasingly digitized — in March 2023, booking.com was the most visited travel website worldwide, with over 555 million views, followed by airbnb.com with almost 170 million visits.
With this growing trend, such software streamlines the day to day work of travel agents. But the benefits extend beyond your customers. As a software owner, you’ll be able to offer your partners the top-notch user experience and comprehensive functionality, gaining an edge over competitors and fostering customer loyalty. Here’s how:
- Provide ease-of-use. A carefully designed travel portal UX/UI enhances travel agents’ efficiency by consolidating travel product information at their fingertips. Addressing the daily challenges of travel agents can be achieved through versatile filtering and search functions.
- Enable instant support. This is crucial in travel, where flexibility and adaptability are key due to frequent changes and disruptions. For instance, flight cancellations surged 73% in 2022 compared to the previous year, contributing to an environment where agents need to react instantly. Travel portals can integrate AI in support chats — such as through ChatGPT API — to lighten the load on your team while providing swift first-contact resolutions.
- Automate accounting. Travel portals aid agents in streamlining accounting processes by submitting receipts for reimbursement and automatically tracking income and expenses. This minimizes financial reporting errors and saves agents hours of work.
As with any other project, market research is essential for effectively addressing real business challenges of travel industry professionals.
At Surf, we help identify these pain points by creating a Customer Journey Map (CJM) — a handy document that aligns our work with real-world pain points of the users. Carefully researching user needs and behaviors not only helps to create user-friendly applications but also minimizes the risk of spending time and resources on unwanted features.
Looking for a B2B travel portal development partner?
Surf is here to assist! Whether it’s planning, design, coding, or long-term support, we’ll help you create your travel portal from scratch, transition your existing solution to mobile, or modernize it using cutting-edge technologies.