A new super-consortium has pledged to crank up its directional selling after declaring a new era has dawned for the independent agent.
The bold statement came as the UK’s three largest agency consortiums - Advantage Travel Centres, Global Travel Group and Worldchoice – unveiled the formation of a new joint company, Triton Travel Group.
The new venture will see the groups negotiate joint commercial deals and pool resources, such as technology, best practices and marketing, to create "the largest retailer in the UK." It will have almost 2000 agency members and be "multi-channel."
Advantage managing director John McEwan, unveiling the new company at an ABTA business lunch, stressed Triton will not be a consumer brand and insisted all three consortiums will retain their brand identity.
"It is the dawn of a new era for consortia," he said.
Key to the strategy will be a concerted drive to instil sales discipline among members – which traditionally they have failed to achieve.
While Global has enjoyed a degree of success in dictating a sales policy, Advantage and Worldchoice have always struggled.
But McEwan insisted that will change.
"In the past, there has been little communication with members about why they should sell our preferred suppliers," he told TravelMole. "There has been no differentiation about why they should sell one operator over another. But now there will be.
"We will be introducing a selling tool that will enable members to clearly see the benefits of selling our preferred suppliers."
The technology will give agents details of targets and performance levels – something previously lacking - in addition to offering exclusive deals and incentives.
The search, said McEwan, will also "present information the way we want agents to see it."
"Preferred suppliers will be displayed first," he said.
"One of the complaints in the past has been that there has been little discipline. But if we want the consortium to thrive it must be aligned," added McEwan. "We need to make sure our members have the tools and the best technology to access the right product."
Although the number of preferred suppliers is likely to be reduced, he stressed agents will still offer a broad range of product.
"I can’t pretend it will happen overnight but we believe members will quickly see the obvious advantages of a conherent sales policy," added McEwan.
The group may also look to share online content - each has its own dynamic packaging functionality - while a joint conference is also likely to be held.
Worldchoice chairman Colin Heal said: "We expect this nedw development to being significant benefits to the members. We will have the most significant purchasing power of any travel retail group in the UK."
Global chairman George Begg described the alliance as "well overdue."
"We all have the same threats and opportunities and we are all trying to achieve the same things," he said. "We will now be able to offer much more to our new partners. Those that choose to work with us will do very well from this initiative."
Report by Steve Jones
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
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