By Leonie Spencer

With the ever-changing retail travel landscape, working smarter in our businesses has never been so important. Below are four key systems we have successfully implemented in our business, Lifestyle Travel Ballarat, that are helping us to keep pace with today’s demanding environment, satisfy our customer expectations, whilst also nurturing a happy and healthy work environment for our people.

1. Modernising Customer Service Through Technology

Developing our Smart Trips App has created greater customer loyalty, with more clients returning to book through us. Customers can have access to all their travel documents, including 24/7 connectivity to their travel agent via an in-app messaging system, all on their smartphone or tablet via the app. Our clients have also been impressed with other features such as country guides, online check-in links, currency conversion and offline maps all designed to make travelling easier.

Due to the success of the app in our own business, Smart Trips is now available as a white label version for other agents to access and brand with their own name and logo too.

2. Smarter Hours

Over 60% of our yearly revenue is processed between January and June. During this peak season, our staff will alternate weeks working 30 minutes extra to manage the demand, whilst leaving 30 minutes earlier during the quieter period (July to December). Banking these hours ensures we are better prepared and energized for the busy months. We also implement two Power Hours — one in the morning and one in the afternoon — where we complete the most important tasks for the day, avoid appointments and check anything urgent that must be done before going home. Creating this structure helps us to feel organized, reduces stress and gives a great start to each new day.

3. Operation Innovation

Our people often have the best ideas for innovation and improvement. Introducing an ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ box where we ask our team to complete the following statement: “It would be good if we could…” has created a platform for open communication and problem-solving. The are no limitations and we encourage each other to write it down, even if it seems silly or impossible.

4. Have Fun & Celebrate Together

Working in travel is stressful, so we make sure we have lots of fun in the office. We also celebrate our wins and share our worries. I believe this is an essential aspect, as creating a great culture and environment ultimately boosts team morale.

Leonie Spencer is the owner of Lifestyle Travel Ballarat and developer of the Smart Trips mobile app ( Leonie started working in the industry as a travel agent in 1979. In 2002 she started Lifestyle Travel Ballarat with the vision of creating a more personalised travel experience for her clients. The agency was the winner of the Helloworld Associate Outstanding Acheivement Award in 2018 and Smart Trips received a judges commendation at NTIA 2018 for Best Travel Agent Technology Innovation.

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