Mergers & acquisitions result in “less independent” agents: Fred van Eijk

Mergers & acquisitions result in “less independent” agents: Fred van Eijk

Fred van Eijk, who, up until yesterday, was the Managing Director of Travel Counsellors Australia, isn’t one to shy away from the big issues in the travel industry, and today is no different.

Travel Weekly caught up with him for an exclusive pow-wow on everything from acquisitions to the home-based VS brick-and-mortar battle.

See also: Travel Counsellors farewell Fred, nab industry expert as new MD

Following on from the many, many acquisitions and mergers that happened in the travel agency industry last year, van Eijk thought that these shifts could see agents become more restricted in their ability to help clients.

And wasn’t it a busy year?!

Flight Centre gobbled up hotel management firms, global agencies and Sydney-based Travel Partners – hell, even OTA rival Webjet got in on the fun! And then just as we were closing down for the year, Helloworld reveals its mega deal with Magellan.

giphy (11)

So what were Fred’s thoughts on all of this?

“The agency acquisitions are not necessarily a good or a bad thing, but rather just a shift in the industry that we’ve seen in Europe,” van Eijk told TW.

“Mergers and acquisitions tend to lead to a number of retail stores closing and agents seeking new opportunities in the home based model.”

According to van Eijk, these types of business moves can “result in agents becoming less independent in what they can offer their customers”, what with all the company politics and head office restrictions.

“Directional selling and preferred suppliers restrict an agents’ freedom to choose the product that is best for their client,” he said.

“As the only truly independent home-based model, Travel Counsellors agents are not dictated by suppliers or the business, providing them the ability to offer what is best for their customer, not the corporation.

“Some home-based business models are doing it better than brick-and-mortar models because they do show genuine care and offer a personal service,” van Eijk added, when we quizzed him on the mobile VS in-store rivalry.

“However, as the only truly independent travel company, Travel Counsellors provides the customer an even better offering.”

As for future threats to travel agents in general, van Eijk felt that OTAs are only bad news if your agency or offering isn’t up to scratch.

“OTAs are only a threat to travel agents who are not bringing added value to the table and not showing enough care, expertise and passion for their customers,” he told TW.

“OTA’s will be a continued threat to the agency models that are not offering that personalised level of service.”

Latest News

  • Aviation
  • Business Travel

REX becomes third airline to add Melbourne to Perth route

Budget airline Rex has unveiled its new Melbourne-Perth route – with economy flights from as little as $299 –  becoming the third airline to service the destination. Passengers will be able to fly the route five days a week from as little as $299 for an economy ticket or $999 for business class. Rex is […]

  • Health & Wellness

Sydney is named the world’s top running destination

In the last week, searches for ‘running shorts’ have increased by 82 per cent! Fitness holidays are in high demand with over 200K searches (Google, TikTok and Instagram) but of all the fitness travel trends ‘trail running’ is the peak of popularity with searches up 50 per cent since the start of 2024! So which […]

  • Aviation

Hawaiian Airlines celebrates 20 years of flying to Australia

Hawaiian Airlines marked 20 years of flying to Australia at an appropriately themed cocktail party for 150 guests at Hyde Bar, Pullman Quay Grand Circular Quay, featuring hula dancers, Hawaiian musicians, mai tais, mango martinis and leis. Among the guests were Sydney Airport Station Manager Kathy Mainerd who was also present for the very first […]

  • Aviation

How well did Singapore Airlines handle the aftermath of turbulence terror

It was a routine flight for the passengers and crew of SQ321, taking off from London en route to Singapore. But about 10 hours into the flight, with breakfast service underway, horror-struck, the plane entered an air pocket and dropped a suspected 6000 ft in just three minutes, killing one man and injuring several others. […]

  • Hotels
  • News

Hari Nair On How Expedia Is Tackling Hotel Industry Challenges Head On

Like its counterparts globally, the Australian hotel industry faces many challenges, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rising operating costs, increased competition for talent, and changing traveller expectations have forced hotels to adapt quickly to remain competitive. At the recent EXPLORE conference in Las Vegas, Hari Nair, Global SVP & GM of Lodging […]

  • Attractions
  • Tourism

“I wanna try it!” – Internet goes WILD over the world’s largest plastic slide

If you are of a certain millennial age persuasion you may remember rainbow road on Nintendo’s Mario Kart. Evidently created by someone fresh from an acid trip, rainbow road allowed you to drive your kart merrily over a twisting, luminous, multi-coloured road suspended in space, all whilst listening to mildly aggressive techno music. If your […]

  • Aviation

Board Air Canada in Sydney’s CBD via a sleek Light Rail

Visitors flocking to Vivid Sydney will glide through the CBD in the newest addition to the Air Canada fleet – a sleek Light Rail tram wrapped in the airline’s unique livery. The Air Canada-themed tram is part of a new marketing campaign designed to put Air Canada in lights during the Vivid Sydney festival (25 […]

  • Destinations

Australia’s value to the UK visitor economy now the highest on record

A record number of Australians are visiting Britain and spending more than ever before, according to the latest statistics from Britain’s National Tourist Agency, VisitBritain. In 2023, Australia’s value to the visitor economy was the highest on record. Visitors from Australia spent a record-breaking £1.6 billion ($3.07 million) on their trips to the UK in […]

  • Tourism

Sensory Tourism Australia launches new travel experiences for vision-impaired international visitors

Sensory Tourism Australia launched its brand at the Australian Tourism Exchange in Melbourne this week and is set to provide inclusive and accessible products for vision-impaired international visitors. Sensory tourism is an emerging concept that presents destinations differently, with less emphasis on traditional sightseeing – created by the founders of Cocky Guides, an award-winning group […]

  • Cruise
  • News

Carnival Splendor to the rescue of Aussies and Kiwis left stranded in Vanuatu

Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Splendor has come to the aid of a group left stranded in Vanuatu, following the collapse of Air Vanuatu. The group, eight Australians and one New Zealander, were visiting the island of Santo when Air Vanuatu cancelled all flights, leaving them without a way home. Carnival Cruise Line responded by offering […]

  • Hotels

QT Singapore set to open in heritage Eastern Extension Telegraph building

Bookings open today for QT Singapore, in the historic former Eastern Extension Telegraph building along Robinson Road, the first property from QT Hotels & Resorts to open outside Australian and New Zealand. Previously Accor’s So Singapore, then the Hotel Telegraph, QT Singapore will officially launch on September 16 and will feature 134 rooms, ranging in […]

  • Hotels
  • News

Minor Hotels’ Anantara group reimagines the brand as its portfolio surpasses 50 properties

Anantara Hotels & Resorts is marking a significant milestone with a reimagined brand identity as recent openings across Europe, Middle East and Asia have propelled the brand portfolio beyond 50 properties. Part of the Minor Hotels group, the Anantara visual refresh takes an elegant, pared-back approach that enables each hotel’s unique character to shine – […]