Technology has changed the way we all do business. In many ways, it has made our lives simpler, faster, and more convenient. This has been as true for incentive group travel, meetings and events as for any other industry. Tools like online registration have made managing and trouble-shooting group travel data easier than ever before. Data management is less cumbersome for the internal support staff; participant registration is now a breeze; reports can be catered to the needs of the client; and frequently asked questions can now be found on a simple, straightforward webpage that anyone can access. While these technological tools are great in a number of ways, there are still certain components of the group travel registration process that will always require a more human touch.
First, not everyone is technologically savvy. For example, if a participant has an issue prior to an incentive trip or other group travel event, rather than searching through the information available online, it is easier for her to make a phone call and speak to a knowledgeable consultant and get a quick answer.
Second, though technology allows individual participants to input a lot of data quickly and easily, maintaining quality control of that data is hard. It cannot be accomplished without the critical thinking of a real, live person. Whether it’s monitoring name changes, swapping out one guest for another, or switching activities on the fly, dealing with unexpected adjustments to a group travel program requires something beyond a sophisticated computer program.
Finally, the ability to access data in real time, 24/7 (which everyone expects today) is an invaluable tool to all stakeholders. The online tools can allow for the creation of reports, both for internal and external use. This, however, does not mean the process can occur without human interaction. Simply because the system allows an “administrator” to click on a button and run a report in seconds, it does not mean that the data should not be quality controlled. Reports have to match: a rooming list must match the arrival/departure manifests; the two reports must also match the number of participants registered, and so on.
As you can see, the tools offered through enhanced technology continue to make the group travel experience increasingly efficient for participants and program managers alike. However, even with the best and latest tools, there will always be a human element that plays an integral role in managing all of the online data. When the 0’s and 1’s don’t add up, it’s people like us at HMI who are there to swoop in and save the day!