When is the time right for new tech?
There is no getting away from the fact that updating your travel business’s tech is a pain in the neck, but how do you know when the time is right and you need to take the plunge?
Tech projects are resource intensive and will disrupt the normal operational flow of your business. Some of your front line and operational staff are going to be diverted from their primary activities during implementation, placing them under strain as they try to cope with their usual duties whilst also having to be involved in implementing the new technology you have chosen for them.
So how do you tell the time is right to update the technology that powers your business? Why would you bother?
Well, good technology has the potential to bring two major benefits:
- Business Effectiveness. If your business is more effective it can sell more product. This might be, for example, as a result of providing a more effective online sales system than currently, gaining electronic access to a wider range of product or allowing you to move into new markets.
- Business Efficiency. New technology may allow you to operate your business with a reduced headcount or, more likely, allow you to grow your business with current staffing levels. If the technology does what it’s meant to do it may also be a useful aid to improved customer service.
So how do you know when the time is right to start the search for new tech? The triggers may be internal factors or external factors.
- Internal factors might be, for example, your business growing to a size where the manual processes you have in place are simply constraining the number of bookings that you can handle.
- External factors might include seeing a competitor clearly outgunning your business through better deployment of technology.
What factors like these don’t give you sight of is the opportunities that new tech might present. You need to take an interest in what’s new in the marketplace. You will need to attend exhibitions and conferences to get a handle on this. This will take you away from your day to day activities and you may feel you just don’t have the time or interest to do this. However, it is really important to do so, as finding some tech that can further your business may well have a really significant impact on your bottom line.
When you have reached the stage where you have seen some technology that might move your business forward, you need to assess whether it will make a beneficial difference.
Firstly, I would suggest you find out whether the technology does meet the promises made by the supplier. All tech suppliers have a great belief in their own products and will be very happy to extol their virtues. This can leave you perplexed as everything sounds so good. A worthwhile starting point is to ask the supplier for a list if its clients. We are a friendly bunch of people in the travel industry and are nearly always happy to have a chat. Simply contacting some clients, asking if you can talk about the supplier and their tech will elicit a wealth of useful market intelligence and help you decide whether to go to move forward.
This next stage is to make a realistic financial assessment of the cost of the new technology and the cost of implementing it. This should be weighed against the benefits that might accrue. These should be flexed as best, realistic and pessimistic cases. If even the pessimistic scenario shows that your business will profit from the new tech, then the decision is made, the time is right for new tech.