I am sure most of the travel business owners know this in some form; still I want to share some truths around the opportunities of travel agencies which undertake Hajj pilgrimage tour arrangements.
Tips and opportunities for online travel agencies undertaking Hajj pilgrimage tour arrangements
It is estimated that about 25,000 British Muslims go for Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca every year. It was a lesser number for the last year Hajj due to construction projects in Mecca, but next time the numbers are going to bounce back. On average, a tour operator charges about 4000 pounds per person which totals to ~100 mil pounds every year and increasing.
In India, last year, in spite of a visa quota reduction due to the same reason stated above, the private tour operator quota was about 30,000. On average, the per-pax total trip costs about 3.25 lacs (for private operators) which accounts for about INR 9.75 billion of revenue generation. This number would be even higher for the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage!
This is a nice picture! Although, things are not that simple, to say so…
How does the Hajj pilgrimage tour operates, and how equipped your travel technology platform is to handle this?
- Hajj pilgrimage has very specific requirements, rules and regulations; the itinerary is almost fixed with specific things to do and places to visit. Almost all foreigners visiting Makkah & Madina during this time book the entire package through a tour operator.
- Do you have a package builder that can help you define custom itineraries, policies, instructions, rules and regulations?
- Though the itinerary is fixed, the packages have variations majorly due to the type of stay and class of travel.
- Do you have a category definer in your package builder?
- What really attracts a person to book with a set operator? The experience and previous track records (mostly word of mouth). According to me this is the biggest challenge any new/existing online operator will have to overcome to be successful or even exist!
- Does your technology provides the freedom to your marketing team to design landing pages, special offers, deals on the fly and market them online?
- People prefer to choose a local operator from the city they belong for obvious reasons- ‘convenience’, People will only prefer an online or non-local agency if the operator provides better (read outstanding) service quality.
- Does your technology platform have an inbuilt CRM or the ability to be integrated with any other CRM that can help you serve your customer better and faster?
- Does your technology provides you with an option to tie-up/subscribe or open your own inventory to other agencies/agents and make it available online as easily as you signup for a Google Email Account?
- Most of the time there are groups of people traveling together (family, relatives or neighbors), so the total amount of money involved is very high, and online payment is not preferred. So, the online channel basically is to aim at bringing in qualified requests and if handled properly could be closed easily.
- Does your technology have on request booking flow in your Package builder? *This actually determines the pricing model with our prospects/clients.
The important factors a person looks for in a tour operator and his offering:
- Credibility, past record (references) – all building towards a trust factor
- Number of tour arrangements done in the past and if possible put up traveler references/feedback.
- The website should really talk aloud of its transparency, fair policies and very upfront refund policies in case of any unforeseen event.
- Certificates of trust – govt. approvals, full refund guarantees etc.
- Distance and modes of transport in the different stages of the entire pilgrimage
- Maps and directions from stay to the pilgrimage site.
- Modes of transport.
- Guide and training/general information, visa approvals (major reason why people choose a local operator)
- Information and testimonial from the guide – ex – well trained guide to handle all queries and speak both Arabic and the dialect of the people traveling along.
- Stay arrangements : They do not matter much (as in star rating), but proper air-conditioning facility, food and water are important concerns. Due to severe changes in climatic conditions people often fall sick – cough and cold is a common health issue with all pilgrims of foreign nationality, and it’s important for a travel agency to have local tie-ups to take care of the hospitality of the pilgrims and publish helpful information around-
- Things to carry
- Things to avoid
- Do’s and Don’t
- General instructions on how to tackle the situation, where to go in case of any emergency.
- Price is actually the least concerning among all factors (in a particular category).
- There are no hard negotiations and even the tour operator puts up a genuine pricing.
- Pilgrims planning for Hajj knows the fact that it would incur a set cost, but they would definitely expect hassle free services in return.
NB: This post is written by Mohsin Khan, Business Analyst at Tavisca Solutions. You can directly reach Mohsin at – firstname.lastname@example.org
For product demos and queries contact – email@example.com