Bryan Tighe is the co-founder and CEO of Budget Your Trip, a website that provides a suite of tools to travel agents (BYT Agent) as well as travel cost information for consumers. Together with his wife, Laurie, he launched the company in 2009. Having visited over 50 countries, many on extended trips, travel is one of Bryan’s passions along with photography and website development.
BYT Agent offers a variety of easy-to-use tools for travel agents, some of which are available to agents for free. The service brings modern Web 2.0 technology to the travel agent industry at an extremely affordable price. All of the tools are aimed to increase productivity for agents, and include a client manager, task tracker, supplier reviews, itinerary builder, invoice creator, and group trip organizer. Additionally, BYT Agent offers a unique travel cost research tool with incidental travel costs from real travelers for destinations around the world. All of the tools are available online, so no download is needed; any internet enabled device can be used to access the service. Ease-of-use and agent productivity are the primary goals of the tools.
Travel Research Online: What was your first experience in travel? What is your most memorable experience traveling?
Bryan Tighe: Some of my best memories from childhood involve long family road trips. One in particular stands out when we drove across the country from Georgia to California and back for a summer vacation. I think these experiences taught me that the world was waiting to be discovered just over the horizon. More recently, my wife and I spent an entire year traveling around the world, visiting Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. For me, the most memorable experiences involve meeting local people from a foreign country, and finding out how they live their daily lives and view the world.
TRO: How has your passion for travel influenced Budget Your Trip?
BT: People always say that you should turn your passion into a career, so that’s what my wife and I did. We started Budget Your Trip initially as a site for consumers, and soon after for travel agents, because we saw a need for easier access to helpful information in the travel business. For consumers, this involves the sharing of travel cost information. Likewise, travel agents can share supplier information with one another, as well as benefit from consumers’ travel experiences, as part of BYT Agent, our suite of tools for travel agents.
TRO: What are some of your favorite features of BYT Agent?
BT: In my opinion, the strongest aspects of BYT Agent are its ease-of-use and integrated tools. Agents can keep track of their clients and tasks with the client manager. They can also create invoices and itineraries for their clients all in one place. The invoices and itineraries only take seconds to create and modify, and reports are generated automatically to help agents keep track of their financial status. Agents can use only part of the service if they want, and are not sent down an endless series of complex forms just to perform a simple task. They can focus on their business instead of shaking their fists at their computers.
TRO: Could you go more in depth re: the client manager?
BT: The client manager has repeatedly been described as the easiest to use in the industry. It keeps all relevant information in one place, but it’s more than just a contact list. It was created specifically for travel agents, and was designed to be used quickly and efficiently. Agents can track everything they would want to know about a client, from travel preferences to frequent flyer account numbers. By logging all interactions and conversations with a client, an agent can come back to a client’s profile after several months and pick up exactly where they left off. This leaves the client feeling like they are always a priority, and helps the agent deliver world class customer service.
TRO: What are some possible overlooked features of BYT Agent?
BT: The supplier reviews area of the service has recently been revamped so that travel agents can learn more about companies they might want to do business with. Much as the client manager can act as a contact list of clients, the supplier area can help agents keep up with their business relationships. Agents can keep a list of their favorite suppliers, plus write reviews for the companies they like (or dislike) the most. These reviews are written by agents and for agents, on the topics that agents care about such as commission structures and priority service. By reading other agents’ reviews, a travel agent can make more informed decisions for their clients and their business.
TRO: What would you like most travel agents to know about BYT that they might not already?
BT: It’s free. Many of the tools in BYT Agent are available to travel agents at no cost for an unlimited time period. Agents can use the client manager, task tracker, supplier reviews, and travel cost research tools indefinitely with our Free plan. We also have a Pro plan that gives access to the rest of the tools for a low monthly cost. We know that travel agents are often looking at their bottom line, so we priced our service accordingly.
Also, we want travel agents to know that whatever information they enter into the service is private and not used for any purpose whatsoever. Client information, itineraries, invoices, and everything else is not shared with anyone.
TRO: How does the consumer side of BYT influence BYT Agent?
BT: Travel agents can take advantage of the huge volume of travel cost information collected by the consumer side of our website. Travelers use our site to plan their trip budgets and enter their travel expenses when they take trips. All of this financial information, covering more than 2300 cities around the world, is then aggregated and averaged to create typical cost profiles for destinations around the world. While it’s easy to find the cost of hotel rooms or tours everywhere on the internet, incidental costs are much more elusive, and this is where our service shines. Thus, a travel agent can learn approximately how much a taxi ride in Paris should cost or whether a meal in Costa Rica is more expensive than in Belize. The typical averages and incidental cost examples can be used for research purposes, or given to clients to let them know what to expect when they arrive. This service is unique to the travel industry, and available for free to travel agents who register for our Free plan.
TRO: Is there anything new or exciting on the horizon for BYT?
BT: Because our service is online, we can quickly make updates and additions without burdening our customers with downloads; everything is up to date for everyone as soon as we make improvements. We’re currently expanding our supplier area. Over the next few months, we aim to add thousands more travel companies to the thousands that already exist in our list. On top of that, we’ve gathered many requests, both small and large, from our current customers. We’re working diligently to add more invoicing reports, updates to the client manager, and enhancing the task tracker. Our list of future improvements never seems to end, and we view that as a good omen.