Cosmos’s decision to bring in a new flat-rate commission level has prompted renewed calls from agents for price parity so they can compete with online deals.
The operator last week said it had completed commercial negotiations with trade partners. The new flat rate means agents who have been on higher commission will be paid a lower rate.
Cosmos said it would take a hit on margins to bring package prices down, something expected to drive greater volumes to agents.
However, reaction to the move has focused on the lack of price parity with the consumer-facing Monarch website operated by Cosmos parent Monarch Travel Group.
John Sullivan, head of commercial at Advantage Travel Centres, said: “Any step in the direction of making it easier for members to compete and secure a booking and maintain a decent margin has to be better than what we have now.
“But members want price parity and transparency across all channels.”
However, Phil Boggon, the recently appointed managing director of Monarch Travel Group, said: “We continually review our price strategy to ensure it delivers a sustainable and strong result for both ourselves and our trade partners.”
He added: “We are confident the lower prices that agents will now be able to offer their customers on Cosmos will create an excellent selling tool.”
Price parity has been an issue since first Kuoni and then Thomas Cook moved to eradicate their online-offline pricing differential last year.
At last year’s Travel Convention, Tui Travel indicated it could follow Thomas Cook’s move within two years, and Cosmos has looked at doing likewise.
However, Travel Weekly understands both regard moving to price parity as challenging in the short-haul beach market where operators are competing on price with online retailers.
Tony Gidman, owner of New Horizons Travel, said Cosmos’s commission move was positive “as long as the price parity extends to Monarch holidays”.
He said he had sold a lot more Cook holidays since it ditched its online discount.
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