The new boss of Cosmos Tours has affirmed his commitment to the trade after some agents questioned his long-term loyalty.
Chief executive Giles Hawke last week announced plans to shake up agent commission rates and make the company’s direct-sell Archers Holidays operation available through agents.
In a previous role at Carnival UK, Hawke cut commission to 5% to stamp out discounting. He was also accused of using customer databases to target agents’ clients direct – an accusation he denies.
York-based Paul Smith, owner of Quartz Travel, said: “I find it hard to trust him. I want a personal guarantee that he will not market to our clients indirectly or directly.
“I’m worried he’s going to get an increase in travel agents booking then do a direct-sell.”
Andrew Earle, of Andrew Earle’s Holidays in Hull, said: “I want to know that his long-term strategy is to use the trade and that he won’t cut commission and target our customers.
“I’m not conceited enough to think that suppliers don’t also own the customer, but we should all work together.”
Hawke said the decision to cut commission at Carnival was “ancient history”, maintaining he did it for the right reasons.
“Cosmos is a completely different business but our commitment to the trade is there. We can’t do things with a short-term intention. It’s a long-term approach.
“I don’t believe Carnival used agent data to target customers directly. Do other tour operators? Absolutely. But what Cosmos has on all our literature is a contact number, website and a line saying ‘visit your local travel agent’.
“We do need customer details for our chauffeur service and emergencies, but there’s no way I’d use this to get a customer from an agent then turn around and say we’re going direct.
“If people don’t like me, I can’t do anything about that, but I’m happy to meet with anyone who wants to talk further.”
Hawke said the company was reviewing the product mix offered by Cosmos Tours and Archers, which are currently the same.
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