Multi-task and multi-serve

TECHNOLOGY is changing retail travel business models, with consortiums and franchises looking at ways to gain the competitive advantage by launching their own in-house wholesale solutions. 

“The resources, stock and pricing that traditional agents now have access to through technology have massively increased their ability to bundle and package in-house,” says Asata ceo, Otto de Vries

“As a result, tour operators need to find new value propositions that are more difficult to replicate in order to compete. This can be done through product specialisation.”

It is easier for retailers to package dynamically themselves these days by using simple technology that is readily accessible, in terms of both content and rates, says Aadil Esack, gm of product and marketing of XL Travel.

“Wholesalers have been doing this for decades, crossing every t and dotting every i that a retailer may forget in a rush or in error. You can do it yourself, much like a client can book online. We all have certain skill sets and when it comes to something complex or unique, I trust my preferred wholesale partner completely.”

Club Travel places emphasis on technology, in particular technology that is used effectively in the online space, combining this with the personal touch, care and knowledge that a good travel consultant can provide, says Club Travel md, Wally Gaynor.

Travel agents today have to be everything the Internet is not, says Gaynor. “For me, the only reason to use a tour operator is if they are an expert in every aspect of that destination I am considering. As an agent I can go online and look at and book a product, but often it is a hit and miss as to whether it is the right product for my client.”

There are some packages that Travel Counsellors (TC) can package themselves through the TC Phenix System, says marketing manager, Michelle Bullmore.

“The advantage of doing this is that the system is available 24/7 to quote, book and process payments. This puts the Travel Counsellors in control to deliver better customer services and generate higher booking margins, as they are acting as both the retailer and the wholesale ‘packager’.”

Legacy Group recently launched Lifestyle Travel. The OTA was developed to give members of Legacy’s loyalty programme – Legacy Lifestyle – an opportunity to book travel using their Legacy Rands, says gm of Lifestyle Travel, William Botha.

“It has created an additional revenue stream for the group and is another way to encourage members of the public to join our rewards programme,” adds Botha.

“Through APIs we, as retail agents, now have access to live inventory with suppliers directly. This creates a huge time saving for the retailer who can quote, book and pay in minutes without having to call the supplier, and hold and wait for ‘availability on request’ to be confirmed.”