Travel agents are “critical” ?to Virgin Atlantic’s success ?and there are no plans for the ?carrier to become direct-sell-only, its chief executive has said.
Craig Kreeger put to rest any fears the airline would follow in the footsteps of sister company, Virgin Holidays, which last month announced it would become direct-sell after 30 years of selling through the trade.
Speaking at the latest Travel Weekly Business Breakfast, Kreeger stressed that the long-haul specialist was a “separate” business from the airline with a very different level of trade sales.
“Most Virgin Atlantic revenue and bookings come from agents,” he said. “We recognise that our airline business is not just reliant upon, but totally dependent upon, us having great relationships and solving problems for travel agency partners.
“Nothing in Virgin Holidays’ strategy affects the reality that Virgin Atlantic considers our primary distribution channel to be the travel agent.”
When Virgin Holidays announced it would be cutting out the trade, it said it could no longer add the value and the consistency of service it wanted if it didn’t “own the customer”.
Kreeger said he had received emails from concerned agents asking what the implications were for Virgin Atlantic.
“The answer is nothing,” he said.
“We rely upon and think the travel agency community is critical to our success.”
He added: “For Virgin Holidays, the level of trade sales as a percentage of its revenue had dropped precipitously over the past few years. It had become quite a small channel and they decided the right thing to do was to become a direct business.”
Virgin Cruises, which is due to start operations in 2020, has said it still plans to work with agents globally. A spokesman said the trade would be “an important partner for our business” and that the business had recently sought the opinion of US agents about its brand.
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