News

Guest comment: The dilemma we face

I read with interest the JTG reassessment of its agency business.

Travel Counsellors now operates in seven countries and in each of these countries, to some degree, there is a realisation that times are changing and that the agency model must adapt.

Immediately the industry looks to a home based model as one of the solutions. The savings on rent, business taxes and other fixed costs are attractive. But without exception, the home based model is misunderstood for if it was only a question of cost-saving, the short term advantage would eventually disappear and our model would not have shown the resilience of expanding every year since its inception over 19 years ago.

The real answer is more fundamental, the customer has a choice between having the very cheapest price or the very best value. The internet with its constant paring of costs and margin will deliver the cheapest price and many customers are attracted to this new found ability to book their own travel. In 2000 33.8% of the population of Australia, mainly businesses, were internet users and last year this increased to 88.8% of the population. Now customers have a path to product that was once exclusive to agents.

However, many customers choose to seek the best value, 24 hour support, financial protection and more importantly, validation of choice in the suitability of their holiday for their specific requirements. Tripadvisor, Facebook and many other social media apps have tried to satisfy this growing need for validation and advice but are increasingly doubted because of bogus and less than impartial advice.

To compete in this new world of customer empowerment, those who choose to be either transactional or relational will not have enough to offer the customer. An agency which operates and bases their offer on discounting and price can never compete with the internet, and the internet will find it difficult to bring an impartial, caring relationship to a sale that has its roots in emotion.

The industry must choose either to be super-relational or super-transactional, anything in between has no future. It’s this dilemma of choice that is the challenge that the industry now faces. Good Agents need to charge for the value they offer, the care, reassurance and impartiality. The customer experience was once called service – it is now a trusted friendship. So agents must ditch the language of transaction, email, price and discount. Many will hanker to give all of this and still be the cheapest price, but that is not possible.

Society is changing and every industry must adapt. Not every person will want the value a travel agent offers but similarly, neither will many want the uncertainty of transaction. There is a rebirth of the true, trusting and knowledgeable agent. There is a future for the trusted agent as in every walk of life, customers seek to trust. The one thing that computers will never deliver is emotion and a holiday is an emotional buy.

Agents can be bricks and mortar or home-based but that is just irrelevant. The issue is, are they super-transactional or super-relational? That is the choice that the industry and the agent must make.


SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Comments are closed.

News

Loophole discovered in WA quarantine requirements for international arrivals

Travellers looking to avoid hotel quarantine in Western Australia can now sneak in round the back. But why would you? Who doesn’t love the little shampoos and soaps they give you?

Share

CommentComments

News

Britain scraps all COVID travel tests for UK entry

Travellers to the UK will no longer be greeted with a PCR test shoved up their nose, just the usual array of commotion and disarray that we all miss about travelling.

Share

CommentComments

Wholesalers

BREAKING: Intrepid grows US tours by 400 per cent with new acquisition

The tour operator has been busy using its downtime to accelerate investment in this massively popular sector.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Travel Agents

Travel agents’ national day of action highlights cruise industry struggle

Travel agents took to the streets earlier this week, just like they did in the ’60s but with far less groovy outfits, little to no Jimi Hendrix music, and not a ‘jazz cigarette’ in sight.

Share

CommentComments

Wholesalers

Intrepid employees given choice to work on public holiday, Natalie Kidd explains why

As many Australian’s took to the streets yesterday, in both protest and celebration, a few companies chose a different approach: business as usual. Here’s why.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Spritz of Australia: Qantas gets its own signature cocktail

The national carrier now has a delicious spritz available on its overseas flights, just in case you’re looking for a new way to get hammered at 36,000 feet.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Accor appoints new Pacific boss, announces massive openings for 2022

Sarah Derry will take the helm as the hotel giant prepares for three major openings in the Pacific, so no pressure or anything.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

“Abducted by luxurious pirates!” Crystal Cruises ship heads to Bahamas after US issues arrest warrant

The Crystal Symphony is channelling its inner OJ Simpson by running from the law. Unfortunately the cruise ship doesn’t have Al Cowlings by its side to keep it going.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

United Airlines flight turned back after passengers start a “riot”

These two unruly passengers decided “if I can’t have business class seats, then no one can have business class seats!”

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Scoot to resume Singapore-Gold Coast flights in February

Ready your wallets, because this may be one of the more expensive Valentine’s Days with a spontaneous venture to south-east Asia.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Travel workers stage national day of action urging politicians to introduce AFTA’s recovery package

Travel industry folk across the country are participating in a National Travel Day of Action outside the offices of key federal and state parliamentarians today to speak up about the industry’s unique struggle.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Club Med’s Pacific boss speak out against WA’s delayed reopening

The kings of the all-inclusive holidays have signalled their support for WA’s travel agent community, blowing a big raspberry in Premier McGowan’s direction.

Share

CommentComments