Published on Thursday, February 2, 2012

Selling travel add-ons wastes time, say agents

Travel agents recognise the need to sell ancillary products when booking flights but find the process frustrating and time-consuming, according to business services provider Travelport.

It said a global airline merchandising survey revealed agents would sell more products such as checked baggage, inflight meals and lounge passes if they were all available through global distribution systems.

When asked how the unbundling of fares and services had impacted their businesses, agents said they were confused about what each airline offered.

Although respondents said it took them 29% longer to add optional extras to flight bookings, 44% said they didn't charge customers for the service. Travelport's survey found agents would be more interested in selling ancillary products if the process was more efficient.

It said there was strong demand for a single aggregated source of information and sales capability, with global distribution systems the preferred booking channel of 70% of respondents.

Presently some services are available through the GDS while others are sold via airline websites or by phone.

Travelport's survey of 610 agencies in 12 countries also found strong demand for branded  fares, which bundle together the flight with ancillary products such as assigned seats or checked baggage. It said agents felt these would help them to provide clients with a full service and compete with airline websites.

"This research offers valuable insights on how travel agencies view and sell airline ancillary services," said Travelport vice president content Fergal Kelly. "Agents understand that as the airline product continues to evolve and ancillaries form an increasingly significant role in the purchase decision and buying process, travel customers continue to look to agents to support them in purchasing itinerary solutions."


By Linsey McNeill



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  • Very true...

    It has always been a fact that selling extras can make a significant impact on agents' earnings - doubling them in many cases - and it is a point that I spend quite a lot of time on in my sales-training courses. Even if it does take 29% longer to do, if the earnings increase by 100% it's a worthwhile investment of time. The interesting thng is that this same objection - that it's difficult to do - is always raised and has been raised ever since I started in travel industry training, around 30 years ago. But the objection has never been true - it might be a bit more hassle but the rewards a massive. And nowadays it is far easier than it used to be. Although it is true that it's nice if everything could be accessed through the GDS - that has never been the case and neither has it ever been that case that, because you can't book a thing through the GDS, you can't book it. It is now much easier to book extras - even if it means abandoning that familiar GDS screen and accessing the internet, sending and email or - shock horror - making a telephone call. At least agents these days don't have to write letters and send telegrams to overseas suppliers as those of us who were agents in the 1960s had to do.

    By Richard English, Thursday, February 2, 2012

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