Travel Agents

“The human touch has gone”: Experienced agent says airlines are no longer worth it

Anonymous

“As a veteran of the travel industry of nearly 40 years, with experience selling retail and now online travel, I have noticed a marked change in the relationship between the airlines and travel agents over the course of my career.

“The regular visits from the airlines’ sales managers are now a thing of the past, and the commissions have dropped along with the support.

“These days, travel agents fear making mistakes on flight bookings because they can cost hundreds of dollars to rectify. The lack of compassion from some airlines is also an issue. Agents literally have to beg to get a genuine error fixed and ask for the fee to be waived, which is not always done.

“If an error is made by the agent, the fee is taken out of the agent’s commission payment, which is now so low that the change penalty can be more than the commission earnt, so the agent must pay for it out of their own pocket.

“As the rules for each airline’s fares grow more complicated, it is easy to miss something and make a genuine mistake. Every airline’s fares are different, and agents are expected to know so much now. For agents in retail locations with a client sitting in front of them, it puts them under a lot of pressure.

“At times the commissions are so low it is not worth the time and effort to work on a booking, so it is easier for the client to make their own booking online, as we need to charge a booking fee to make it worth our while and the clients are naturally reluctant to pay when they can do it themselves.

“Some airlines undercut the agent’s fare by hundreds of dollars on their own websites, which the clients are aware of, and as agents, we can’t justify the difference so we lose the booking.

“In the ‘good old days’ it was easy to contact an airline’s agency sales manager – a position that seems to have disappeared mostly – and explain what the problem was. They were usually helpful and understood that it was a genuine mistake and would fix it for the agent without any penalty.

“But the human touch has gone, and agents are now told that changes to bookings can’t be made as flights are now managed by computer algorithms.  The pressure of ‘instant purchase’ or same day ticketing deadlines increases the risk of errors and fraud.

“However, in a highly competitive world, airlines might just reflect on the travel agent’s loyalty to their product and reconsider how they can provide genuine support.”


This piece has been published anonymously at the request of the travel agent who contributed it

SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

  • sting

    …… I remember when travel agents lord over traveland and suppliers would be always at their mercy… time’s changed… travel agents are still relevant today but they can no longer dictate … internet has changed the way businesses are conducted… and it’s a cruel change… players attitudes shifted with it… like, it is now your problem not mine attitude…

Tourism

Entries for the Australian Travel Awards close in 8 days!

If you haven’t already, you’re going to want to get started on those entries. Plus, have your say by telling us who you think should win an award!

Share

CommentComments

Road & Rail

Big Fat Road & Rail Wrap

This is our longest road and rail wrap yet! We wish we could say that about the number of days in a row we’ve managed to avoid going to the pub at lunch, but that’s still on zero.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Big Fat Hotel Wrap

Today’s Hotel Wrap is almost as exciting as having an open mini-bar. Just kidding, it’s nowhere near that exciting.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Is it safe to drink tea and coffee on a plane?

It’s the age-old question. And by age-old, we mean its something people have been worrying about since planes started offering food and beverage service.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Aussie hero Kurt Fearnley joins Chimu on fundraising cruise

If you’ve been eyeing off Antarctic adventures then allow us to give you yet another reason to set sail.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Accessing your frequent flyer benefits just got a lot easier

ATTN FREQUENT FLYERS: your airport experience just got easier than convincing our office dog that we threw a non-existent ball. He’s been searching for days.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

ATTN AGENTS: time is running out to enter the 2018 Avis scholarship

Friendly reminder to get in quick, folks! We’re still working on our travel agent disguise so we’re in with a chance to win that juicy prize money.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

ME TOO: US Hotels to give staff panic buttons

Several major hotel chains in the US have pledged to enforce stronger safety measures for their employees. But will it be enough?

Share

CommentComments

News

WORLD FIRST: Australia to recognise orphanage tourism as slavery

Good news everyone! The Modern Slavery Bill has passed in the House of Reps! Here’s what it means for the travel industry.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Man allegedly killed over unpaid Airbnb debt

An Airbnb host has told a Melbourne Court this week that he’s extremely sorry for causing the death of Ramis Jonuzi – and will face sentencing in Supreme Court next week.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Check out the most Instagrammed Airports in the world

Let’s face it: if you didn’t Instagram yourself at the airport, did you even travel overseas?

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

LATAM Airlines leads pack for sustainability practices

LATAM Airlines has been recognised as the leading airline in the Americas for sustainability for the fifth time! Meanwhile, we’ve started using our keep cup to take wine with us everywhere.

Share

CommentComments