Opinion: Independent agents are integral to suppliers

Female travel sales agent explaining the offer from a holiday flyer to a senior couple in the travel agency.

Last month, we had a chat with Windstar Cruises’ Vice President of Sales Steve Simao about how they’re shaking up their sales strategy to become agent focused.

You can read all about it here.

David Brandon, Founder and Managing Director, Savenio Signature Travel Experiences has penned a response to Windstar’s new agent focused strategy.

You can read his response below.


I started off in the travel industry over 35 years ago in our small, family-owned travel agency in an even smaller town in far north Queensland.

Without the wonder of the internet, we were one of the few outlets for anyone in Ayr who wanted to buy an air, bus or rail ticket.

One of the great things about our travel office back then was that we not only had face to face contact with our customers, but we also had direct relationships with all our suppliers.

These relationships were very personal.

As one of their top selling agencies, we had a personal relationship with Jack McCafferty, the owner of one of the largest coach companies in Australia at the time.

In addition, as one of their first route agencies in Australia, we had a great relationship with Ansett Airlines.

Back then Airlines considered the customer #1, it was about serving their needs via relationships with the supporting independent agents – agents who knew their business very well.

While the world has become bigger and more sophisticated there are some tenets of my old business that still ring true.

My clients might be spread across Australian cities now thanks to the internet, and I’m still often in Ayr, but they all enjoy the personal connection I offer them as a specialist independent travel advisor.

With my personal business largely focused on luxury cruise clients, I completely understand why a brand like Windstar wants to use an agent focused sales strategy rather than the costly “sell direct” business model.

Cruise Lines, particularly those in the luxury end of the business, know the advantage of working with an independent agent.

They can see who is delivering them business and are able to support agents, rather than managing through a third party consolidation.

This gives them the ability to successfully deliver their clients value and the perfect holiday experience.

They can easily build a loyalty base that they can reconnect with time and time again with the agent relationship providing the gateway.

Repeat and referral is king in the luxury marketplace and suppliers need effective strategies to connect to the clients most likely to buy their product.

For these brands, mass market advertising is expensive and often misplaced but an independent advisor with strong client relationships is worth their weight in gold.

That’s why Windstar, along with other luxury travel cruise brands, are focused on their direct agent relationships.

There is a good argument for more suppliers to take a closer look at their yields.

I’d argue airlines would see a significant difference on the return they get on the average passenger fare via an agent versus direct.

The truth is independent agents play a huge part in delivering higher yields to all suppliers, from cruise lines to tour companies, hotels and airlines and their value proposition is immense.

 

Latest News

  • Destinations
  • Events

World Surf League picks Cloudbreak in Fiji for the 2025 WSL Finals

Tourism Fiji has announced that the World Surf League (WSL) has selected Cloudbreak, located close to the island of Tavarua, as the prestigious venue for the 2025 WSL Finals. The event is part of the Championship Tour and will determine the men’s and women’s World Champions in a one-day, winner-takes-all competition. Fiji is renowned for […]

  • Cruise

Silversea’s Silver Ray heads for Rome on her maiden voyage

Silver Ray, the second Nova Class ship and the 12th in the Silversea fleet, has now embarked on her maiden voyage, departing Lisbon on June 15 and scheduled to arrive in Civitavecchia (Rome) on June 27. Stops along the way include Cadiz, Malaga, Valencia and Palma de Mallorca before the main port of  Barcelona then […]

  • Destinations

Malolo Island Resort Fiji launches its own resort app

Guests at the Malolo Island Resort can now get a better experience even before they arrive with the resort’s newly launched mobile app. Guests are encouraged to download and use the app ahead of their stay to build their itinerary. They can check-in prior to their arrival and make dinner and spa reservations all from […]

  • Tour Operators

France on foot holiday savings

Walking up a steep incline may be painful, but it is all worth it when you see that incredible view.

  • Cruise

Seabourn introduces enhanced groups programs for travel advisors

Leading ultra-luxury cruising and expedition travel company, Seabourne, proudly announces the “Seabourn Enhanced Groups Program” to elevate business prospects for travel advisors. This program introduces a revamped Tour Conductor Credit that offers shipboard credits or bonus commission for bookings. It also eliminates the need for deposits for small group allotments and increases group capacity. “Seabourn […]

  • Cruise

Ponant’s latest luxury cruise expeditions for 2024 and 2025

Head out to see the beauty of unique destinations on three bucket-list explorations of Australia with Ponant Cruise’s new luxury expeditions. Known for their luxury cruises, Ponant offers unique and truly exceptional sea voyage aboard sleek and intimately sized cruise yachts. They offer a range of discovery expeditions, and launched new cruises that take guests […]