Comment: Agents just want a level playing field

Comment: Agents just want a level playing field

Thomas Cook’s move to price parity at the end of last year was widely acknowledged as a positive move by travel agents, as was Kuoni’s 12 months earlier.

While no agent is under any illusion this was done purely for their benefit, it has removed that huge bone of contention of operators undercutting agents online.

The question ever since has been will others follow suit? Cook’s big rival Thomson made noises it might move in that direction, but has since sounded a more cautious note.

As we reported last week, Cosmos is the latest operator to change its commission structure. Agents were happy to accept that, but only if the operator didn’t continue to offer cheaper holidays through Monarch online. But it will – meaning some agents are going to earn less commission for each Cosmos holiday sold and still have to win customers over from the internet by conveying the value of their service.

Which brings me to this week’s big event. The St Jude’s Day storm kept me at home on Monday as train services in the south were wiped out.

While that was an inconvenience that millions of us suffered, it was nothing compared to the considerable challenges many in the trade faced. Agents had to rapidly rebook flights for customers who were unable to make it to airports, while domestic operators and their retail partners snapped into action to help stranded customers.

I've said it many times before, but it’s worth repeating: it’s situations like this that highlight just what value our readers offer customers. St Jude is the patron saint of lost causes. Well done to all of you who proved you are anything but this week.


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