Which? Travel has defended itself against an onslaught of criticism from travel agents after it advised consumers to haggle over prices.
Agents were furious with the advice given in the magazine, claiming it sends the wrong message to customers.
AITO Agents chairman Oliver Broad quickly issued an angry response to the article and has since been inundated with messages of support from industry colleagues.
"This is a great example of where we can all pull together to fight our corner. Tour operators and travel agents, both AITO members and non members, have called and emailed me to show their support," said Broad.
"It's times like this when I am grateful I work in an industry full of dynamic, vocal people. Comments on the TravelMole website, email, phone calls and social media have all played a part here. And this is after just a few hours. Why do we not do this more often?"
After seeing the tide of reaction from TravelMole readers, Which? Travel sent in a comment defending its article.
The magazine, which hails itself as the consumer champion, said it fully supported the value of personal contact when booking a holiday and had included this in its report.
It said the section, called "Special agents" recognised that although going online can often be the cheapest way to find a holiday, talking through your criteria with a travel agent could help you make a more informed decision.
"We pointed out that agents will be able to offer advice about aspects such as cheaper days to travel, added extras like departure taxes, visas, and health requirements," said a spokesman.
"We also made clear that they would be able to use their personal experience to suggest resorts or hotels that were best suited to the customer, and we highlighted their ability to offer added value, specifically mentioning one agent who threw in airport lounge access at no extra charge."
It said its article was an "impartial and accurate representation of our research that was carried out from the position of a consumer".
"When we reported that when we asked agents if they would match or beat the online prices we found many of them were prepared to do so, we are simply passing on an experience that might be of use to consumers," added the spokesman.
Click here to see TravelMole's original article and here to see AITO's response.
by Bev Fearis
Monday, April 30, 2012