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Published on : Tuesday, August 2, 2016
The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (NATAS) have jointly launched the Travel Agent (TA) Roadmap at the inaugural Travel Agents Industry Forum. With a vision of enabling travel agents to go beyond ticketing and order-taking to become designers of travel experiences, the Roadmap seeks to enhance the capability and sustainability of the travel agent industry. This will be done through the three main focus areas of Business Transformation, Technology and Manpower, and supported by tailored initiatives.
“Travel agents are important players in the travel and tourism ecosystem. They contribute to the vibrancy of our economy and provide good jobs for Singaporeans. However, with more consumers becoming discerning and going online for their travel needs, travel agents must rethink their businesses in order to value-add and remain relevant, competitive and productive in a dynamic travel landscape” says Lionel Yeo, Chief Executive, Singapore Tourism Board.
STB is committed to partner the industry closely in this journey by encouraging innovation and technology adoption that will be supported by STB’s grant schemes such as the Business Improvement Fund (BIF) and Experience Step-Up Fund (ESF), in addition to the facilitation of public and private partnerships that will contribute towards a vibrant travel agent industry.
“We believe the Travel Agent Roadmap can create unprecedented opportunities to bring about business transformation for the travel agent industry, thereby ensuring viability and sustainable growth in the years to come” says Devinder Ohri, President, National Association of Travel Agents Singapore.
With online platforms offering an increasingly varied and competitive array of travel products and services, travel agents have to undertake business and job redesign to keep abreast with competition whilst ensuring sustainability. A new Business Transformation Committee will be set up within NATAS, with the support of STB, to assist travel agents on their transformation journey. An area that the Committee will work on is the development of a step-by-step playbook on how travel agents can adopt suitable new business models.
Through the adoption of relevant technologies, travel agents can further enhance their customers’ experience from start to finish and reduce operating costs, thereby improving the way their businesses are run today. Technology also holds the key to transforming the travel agent’s business by enabling travel agents to do what they could not before. To encourage adoption of technology, STB and NATAS will organise regular technology showcases with an accompanying guidebook on the latest and most relevant technology solutions for travel agents. Innovative prototypes in areas such as data analytics and visitor experience may also be eligible for funding support by STB.
Amidst Singapore’s manpower constraints and rising aspirations of prospective employees, the industry requires a multi-faceted approach in order to attract, develop and retain talents. One aspect is the need for robust human resource (HR) practices. In this regard, the Roadmap will bring together a suite of resources that travel agents can readily tap on for HR excellence, such as capability toolkits, diagnostic tool, mentorship programmes, skills training and seminars. STB and NATAS will also focus on engagement efforts with schools and students to increase the awareness of the myriad career options in the travel agent industry.