Comment: It's unwise to bite the hand that feeds you

Comment: It's unwise to bite the hand that feeds you

A long-term approach to dealing with suppliers is essential to create a proper partnership, says Miles Morgan, managing director of Miles Morgan Travel

Relationships between operators and agents are often fractious but I’m increasingly unhappy about how disputes are publicly aired these days.

Thomas Cook got itself into hot water with agents over not honouring mispriced holidays, prompting rants on social media.

I have a strong view on this. We pride ourselves on building relationships with suppliers through thick and thin. They make mistakes – so do my staff and I, occasionally.

My reaction to Cook mispricing would be a call to its agency sales department to make it aware not to book people, knowing trouble would be ahead.

Given the prices quoted, it must have been obvious to any agent that there had been a mispricing. On another day, I would be phoning their sales team to ask for a favour after an error at our end.

I would hope that with a proper ‘partnership’, I would get a positive answer: in a true relationship, it goes both ways.

A long-term approach to suppliers is a winner in my book, compared with a couple of extra passengers booked on the cheap.

Incidentally, Cook is not a Miles Morgan Travel preferred partner, but I still would have told them.

With their recent commission announcement moving towards reward for performance, it is clearly better to be onside.

What is Fred doing?

Fred Olsen Travel’s plans to open shops in a new area has raised eyebrows, especially as it is going head to head with Hays-owned Bath Travel.

It’s great that the high street is attracting investment. But, given my other comments here, it is an interesting thing to do when Hays, I assume, is a key partner for Fred Olsen Cruise Lines (a company run completely separately but related to Fred Olsen Travel).

Is there another agenda? Does the cruise line have plans for a new ship in Southampton? After all, its best ship, Balmoral, is moving from Southampton to Newcastle for 2016 (ironic). Watch this space.

Cruise discounting

I took a call from Travel Weekly last week to comment on agents discounting on cruise. I thought I’d gone back in time. ‘Not this old story for the 100th time,’ I thought.

Agents all have different business models: mine is about service, expertise and people. For others, especially online, it is often price. It annoys me in some ways. 
But I understand why they do it.

The moral of the story is to get on with making your business more successful and worry less about others and their gameplan.

Tui’s masterplan

Finally, my old employer Tui talking about a masterbrand is another interesting one. I was running Lunn Poly at the time of the change to Thomson. It was the right move then and I am sure still is.

The online world, especially, is being increasingly won by the power brands. Losing the Thomson brand would be huge, but people soon get used to change.

They would have a huge mega-brand in Tui driving not only cost-base benefits, but stronger brand awareness across the world. My money says it’s a good idea; but when is another question.


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