Best Travel Itinerary Builders for Advisors [+Comparison Chart]
You’re probably here because you have a sneaking suspicion that you’ve outgrown your travel itinerary template. Maybe you’ve come to peace with the fact that using a template is a time-suck, or you’ve realized they look like Frankenstein itineraries, or it saddens you that clients can’t interact with it on a mobile app. Maybe all of the above.
So, what’s the best alternative to travel itinerary templates? Travel itinerary builders. But before I dive into the differences between the two, here’s a choose your own adventure:
- I want to better understand the pros & cons of travel itinerary templates vs. itinerary builders
- I want a few tips on how to choose an itinerary builder before I check out the comparison chart
- I’m just here for your Itinerary Builder Comparison Chart. Take me there.
Differences Between Itinerary Templates & Itinerary Builders
Both travel itinerary templates and itinerary builders can be used to create custom quotes and trip itineraries for your travel agency. What are the difference between them? Here's a short answer:
Travel Itinerary Templates:
- Freely available: You can find template on any Word/Google Doc./Mac Pages as a template option.
- Designed for general use: Templates are a "catchall" for travelers, so unless you modify or create your own template, the itinerary will be pretty barebones.
- DIY and typically take longer to create: There's a lot of copy and paste going on, so you can abandon your dreams of drag-and-drop images automatically formatted to the itinerary design.
- They're static documents: What you see is what you get. They're not dynamic and won't integrate with suppliers/ consortia/ CRMs/ flights/ destinations/ maps etc.
Travel Itinerary Builders
- Tailored toward travel agencies, tour operators and DMCs
- Faster to create than templates: With itinerary builders, it's faster and easier to get a more professional looking product in a shorter amount of time. Most itinerary builders advertise they take 10-20min. to create opposed to 2-3 hours to use a travel itinerary template.
- An investment: Travel itinerary builders cost money (with few exceptions)
- Dynamic: They integrate with different travel agent apps and programs (GDS, CRM, consortia content, suppliers etc.) and clients can interact with the app, using it as a platform to book excursions, research restaurants and points of interest (etc.)
It's kind of like using a spreadsheet for your accounting (template) vs. using a program like Quickbooks (builder). A spreadsheet will get the job done, but it's not usually the most efficient Want more details to help you decide? Keep reading.
Is a Travel Itinerary Template Good Enough for Me?
If you’re just doing a one-off itinerary here or there, and you don’t care about looks or branding or functionality, a travel itinerary template might be just fine. Maybe you’re booking primarily as occasional favors for your friends, or booking for your mom who still thinks the bear Christmas ornament you made out of cotton balls and hot glue in 2nd grade belongs in the Louvre (I’m looking at YOU, mom!). Mom doesn't care what your itinerary looks like.
Another bonus of travel itinerary templates is that they’re free. It’s hard to argue with that. So if you’re just starting an agency and the thought of shelling out one more dime makes you want to cry, a travel itinerary templates can work fine until the day comes that you want to invest in a different tool (if that day ever comes).
You can easily find travel itinerary templates as Google Docs, Mac, and/or Microsoft template options. But before you go the travel itinerary template route, consider three things:
- A travel itinerary template takes a lot longer to create, brand, and customize: If you're creating in depth itineraries for clients, an itinerary builder will save you a good chunk time. Possibly even 1-2+ hours per quote/ itinerary. So even if you are making just a few per week, you stand to save a good chunk of time that you could use to hang out with your dog or focus on building up your client base so you can make more itineraries :)
- You can try an itinerary builder for free to see if you like it: In fact, you can try multiple programs for free! I suggest testing out a few so you can determine which builder you like best.
- There’s a few free itinerary builders: . . . and while they’re intended more for travelers than advisors, they get the job done. (You can find some options for that in this article).
Curious about itinerary builders? Read on.
A Few Things to Consider When Choosing an Itinerary Builder:
Okay, so you're already sold on using (or at least trying out) an itinerary builder. If that's the case, here's a few things you can consider before you launch into our comparison chart below to help you decide:
- Budget: Simple enough, but it’s a big one. What can you afford? Does the pricing align with the volume of itineraries you anticipate making.
- Consortia Discounts & Integration: Is your consortium (or your host’s consortium) chummy chummy with a particular itinerary builder? If so, that might make your discounts higher and your itinerary-building process even easier. Do they have products that can automatically populate into itineraries from your consortium?
- Host Discounts: Is your host one of their preferred partners? That may bode well in terms of volume discounts. Check the chart (and you can double check with your host and/or the itinerary builder apps).
- Supplier Integration: Who are your favorite suppliers to book? Do those suppliers populate into the itinerary builder’s program? If so, this will make your itinerary building even faster.
- Style: Okay, so sometimes looks matter. I said it. Your itineraries should be beautiful and reflect your brand. It's subjective, but some builders will align more closely with your personal design and style preferences. On the comparison chart below, there are links to what the quotes and itineraries look like. Open each sample in a different tab so you can compare the style them, side by side.
- Function: Does it have all the functions you want? Not sure what all those functions may be? Check out the very long list of features on our chart and see what’s possible!
- User Friendliness: This is subjective, but if you’ve watched demos and you’re still stumbling through the program a week or two after using it, maybe it’s not a match made in heaven for you. (Spoiler alert: All the programs listed have a free trial, so you will be able to judge for yourself which ones are the "user-friendliest" for you!)
- How Long Have They Been in Business? How deep are their industry roots? This isn't to say that you should poo-foo startups. Do they have a track record of product developments? Do they keep up with their program? Do they have their fingers on the pulse of what travel advisors really need?
- How often do they update their product? Are they active? Do they update their Youtube tutorials? Do they post on their FB page? Do you see them hanging out at conferences you attend?
Okay, you’re totally ready. Beyond ready. Here’s where you’re comparison shopping begins and ends:
Travel Agent Itinerary Builder Comparison Chart
Finally here it is. How did we decide which itinerary building apps to profile? These are companies that focus on itinerary building apps for travel agents (but they work for tour operators and DMCs, too!). So if you’re looking for larger programs like TESS and Mtrip that bundle it with other services (like CRM and invoicing etc), you’ll have to wait on that another day.
For this article, we consider these companies the main players in the travel agent itinerary builder space:
If you feel we missed a main player, please let us know in the comments!
I’m just going to set this riiiiiight here! (Make sure you go all the way to the end so you can find links to the samples!)
Beautiful isn't it? If you love it, you have our Think Tank Group to thank! They really delivered in offering feedback for this resource!
Go Forth and Create Itineraries!
Whether you decided to go old school and use a travel itinerary template, or take a test drive on some of the builders, I'd like to hear what works for YOU! Did I miss features in the infographic that are important to you? Is there a program you love that you don't see?
Leave a comment or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org! Chat soon!