Current challenges

“We’re facing shorter lead times,” says Kathy Nel, Limex’s divisional executive head. “Clients don’t realise how much goes into proposals and have unrealistic expectations of turnaround times for quotations.”

Availability, tight budgets, finding suitable activities for diverse groups, forex fluctuations, and slow supplier turnaround times are some of the challenges, says John Ridler, Thompsons Holidays PR and media manager. 

Group bookings through airline groups departments generally have slow turnaround times because decisions are no longer made locally, says Ramon Geldenhuys of 360 Degrees Travel. “This can affect agents’ services levels to clients.”

“The disconnect between budget and wish list can be difficult to manage,” says Sarah Welton-Blake of SWB Consulting, “but frank and frequent communication with clients helps to manage expectations.”

Airlines don’t do waivers anymore,” says Mandy McEvoy of Club Travel Corporate, “which means airlines will reject a group booking for 14 passengers if the group minimum rule is 15 passengers. Where a group deposit has been paid and the client reduces the group size to under the minimum number required, the reservation becomes invalid and the deposit is forfeited if the balance of payment has not yet been paid.

“The airline will cancel the group booking and the agent will need to re-book individual seats on the available airfare at the time, which can literally double the ticket price quoted to the client on a group booking. It’s imperative to inform clients of the rules before a deposit is paid or they will hold you responsible for any additional costs incurred.”

“Ensuring all payments and necessary documentation are received timeously can be a challenge,” comments Janine Pienaar, Globus sales and marketing manager.

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