It’s been a fiery week between travel agents and OTA’s, what with Webjet’s slandering comments about agents, and our own Skroo Turner and Virtuoso MD Michael Londregan stepping in to defend the industry.
And today sees another industry heavyweight call out OTA’s, including Webjet, for being misleading and damaging to the travel agent image.
Mobile Travel Agents’ (MTA) co-managing director Roy Merricks has called comments suggesting travel agents are limited and the role in decline as “a furphy”.
Speaking from the company’s national Head Office on the Gold Coast, Merricks has even asked if OTAs like Webjet should even be associated with travel agents and consultants, given it’s a misleading concept as the two are nothing alike.
“Any OTA promoting itself as a travel agent or travel advisor could be construed as potentially misleading,” Merricks said.
“OTAs don’t deliver the products or complete services provided by a credentialed national agency, such as MTA, with true connections and support for clients on the ground globally.”
Merricks said that while originally, OTA’s had specialised in either flights or hotel reservations, over the years they’ve expanded to include other types of tours and packages to gain more popularity, but they’re not pulling wool over anyone’s eyes.
“The misnomer is they are effectively promoting themselves as an online version of a traditional travel agent – without a shop – and therefore suggesting they are more readily available,” he said.
“Nothing is further from the truth and it is, in my opinion, potentially misleading when OTA’s promote themselves as a travel agent or travel advisor in the sense of the words understood by consumers.
“At the end of the day the travel distribution system, travel agents and travel advisors are alive and growing well.
“OTA’s should perhaps be more aptly described as Online Travel Algorithms – let’s see them for what they really are.”