Supplier on home-based agents: Industry is mining fools gold
In regards to editor in chief Arnie Weissmanns Aug. 2 column On the Bubble, I have had a home-based sales force for years and probably have talked to more travel agents and wannabe agents than anyone in the business.
Most do nothing, a few do a little and one in hundreds books a respectable amount. Nevertheless, the industry acts like they are a gold mine.
I read editor in chief
Arnie Weissmanns Aug. 2 column On the bubble with great interest.
It has been some time since I have seen such poorly researched
information presented as fact. (See box at right for another take
on the column.)
In a nutshell, the
column states that suppliers interest in independent, home-based
travel agents is unfounded and shortsighted, bordering on
irresponsible with respect to their balance sheets. It states that
industry consortia (like Vacation.com) have culled low-producing
agencies from their rolls. Further, it claims that groups like
mega-host Global Travel International, which provide single-point
contact for aggregated home agents, offer a business model that
will continue to be attractive to suppliers.
Let me help him out
by technology, have determined that various distribution channels
offer varying results in terms of yield performance. Although in
the days of domestic airline ticketing, volume was very important,
today yield is more important.
finite inventories where yield performance is critical have
discerned that the transactions generated by the home-based travel
agent channel are among the highest yielding in the
specialize in selling cruises, tours, resorts, all-inclusives and
other upmarket products to a sophisticated clientele. They are
generally technology savvy. The typical home-based-agent client is
buying higher room and cabin categories; spending more on tours,
gambling and beverages; and generally has more discretionary
claims that Vacation.com has eliminated less productive agencies,
implying that that includes home-based agents. However, V.com has
more than 1,500 home-based agent members who meet all of the groups
qualifications. This is almost 20% of V.coms total
Regarding GTI -- I
would call it a seller of travel agent credentials, not a host
agency. Two very different business models. If you lump card-mill
agents in with real, home-based agents and their host agencies,
then Weissmanns premise might be true.
However, these are
two different business models, and I suspect that he cant discern
GTI isnt breaking
any laws that I know of, and it seems to have stabilized a business
that has been plagued by massive failures in the past. I suspect
that the guys who started and continue to run GTI are astute and
are obviously very successful. But professional home-based travel
agents have been fighting a war for decades now against people who
simply pay for travel agent credentials for the purpose of
obtaining discounts. When you lump professional home-based agents
in with the likes of GTI that are in the business of selling travel
agent credentials, it is slap in the face to professional
pretending to be travel agents are not the same as professional
Tom Ogg is
editor and publisher of CruiseReviews.com. Although the author is
married to the president of the National Association of
Commissioned Travel Agents, the views expressed above are his and
do not represent the views of that organization.