Crawford says V-Check allows agents to do a pre visa check and authorisation, which is then sent to the customer with a bookable link. As soon as the client orders his or her visa, the agent is notified. ‘This lets the agent know that the trip is actually on. So the agent can contact the customer and ask what else they need at that point – flights, accommodation, activities etc. Basically V-Check allows the agent to know who is going ahead with their visa through us.’ Crawford and thevisamachine’s New Zealand operations manager, Chris Hobbs, say the visa situation can change quickly for travellers from New Zealand (both those who are Kiwi passport holders and those who are not).
‘Parts of central Asia are getting easier, for example,’ says Hobbs. ‘Uzbekistan has introduced an e-visa this year which applies to Kiwis, and Iran has eased its requirements around an authentication code.’ On the other hand, things can also get tougher – as many agents with clients heading to South Africa will know. ‘In the end it’s not really a matter of easier and harder,’ says Crawford. ‘It is really about staying up with the changes. ‘What we’re really saying to travel agents is ‘you do the travel, we’ll do the visas’. We take the bureaucracy nightmare off the hands of the agents and they can get back to booking, planning and selling the customer’s next trip.’