Industry unity essential: MTA

Industry unity essential: MTA
By admin

The travel industry must “band together” to ensure the travelling public is made aware of the value offered by travel agents, Mobile Travel Agents managing director Roy Merricks has urged.

Merricks’ comments came in reponse to the draft Travel Industry Transition Plan, released last week, which referred to the growing prevalence of online distribution in the travel retail sector.

The draft’s executive summary, put together by the Policy and Research Advisory Committee of the Council of Consumer Affairs Officials of Australian and New Zealand (CAANZ), claimed the making of travel arrangements had become “predominantly an online business.”

“Travel service suppliers, encouraged by consumer enthusiasm, have eagerly embraced this new distribution channel, helping break down traditional relationships with consumers, who previously relied on travel agents to make informed decisions,” it said.

It envisaged a future in which consumers would engage agents “for specific reason” and would “exercise conscious decision-making “ when selecting an agent, prompting Merricks to stress the need to highlight the value added by agents.

“As industry participants, we know we are relevant but that’s not as important as ensuring the travelling public that we are,” he said.

With the Travel Compensation Fund set to be wound down, the draft suggested the scheme’s financial reserves could be used to develop materials to inform travellers of “the risks associated with purchasing via a travel agent” and to advise steps for “mitigating such risks”.

But Merricks implied that was a one-sided approach.

“There needs to be a balanced view, and one that includes and undrlines the benefits of dealing with a travel agent,” he said.

He stressed there was much to be done in the lead-up to the plan’s proposed changes which will see agents cease to be TCF members in 2014, with the repeal of the State Travel Agents Act scheduled for 2015.

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