Making more money, access to best fares, the ability to compete online, access to easy-to-use solutions and reduced costs top the list of travel agents needs, according to a new survey of 700 agents released by Amadeus, the global technology company.
When asked to rank what they needed most now from a list of choices, 20 percent of travel agents responded that making more money was their number one priority, and 19 percent chose access to the best fares as their second priority need. In a very close tie at 15 percent each, competing online and access to easy-to-use solutions came in as third and fourth priorities, respectively. Rounding out fifth place was reducing costs which came in around 13 percent.
“Travel agents have spoken and Amadeus is listening,” said Tom Cates, Chief Commercial Officer, Amadeus North America. “Today it is no longer good enough to simply focus on cost cutting. It is about finding new and innovative ways to increase earning power, guaranteeing the best deals, staying competitive online, and accessing user-friendly tools and technology so agents can focus on doing what they do best.”
Cates said that the U.S. and global economies have entered into a significant downturn and that the downturn will have a significant impact on travel and tourism. The industry has entered a new era of austerity in which “Flat is the new up.” Cates said. Travel agents will be challenged to turn crisis into opportunity and confront future problems such as consumer confidence, airline capacity and profit margins as well as many unknowns such as fuel prices.
Cates said it is not surprising that the need to “make more money” showed up at the top of the agents wants list. However, he noted that “reduce costs” was not named among travel agents’ top three current priorities. According to Cates, at this point travel agents have likely gone as far as they can in cutting costs. The opportunity now lies in addressing the other side of the equation – finding ways to earn more revenue and grow their business.
Cates said the survey results also reveal that travel content and commissions continue to be top priorities, and travel agents are looking for ways to offer a more comprehensive total travel experience to their clients. The survey also showed that travel agents are clearly doing business online and want to do more, said Cates.
Survey respondents represented a cross-section of the North American travel agency community, including Amadeus customers, other GDS users, and non-GDS users.
The majority of survey respondents described themselves as home-based agents (31.9 percent), travel agents (25.9 percent) or travel agency owners (24.9 percent). The respondents focus primarily on leisure/destination travel (68.2 percent) and work in the U.S. (91.1 percent).
In a press briefing in New York – one of four “Talk With Amadeus 09” Roadshows that include in depth briefings for travel agents, Cates said the survey asking travel agents to tell Amadeus what their needs are is one part of Amadeus North America’s agent engagement approach for 2009. Roadshows are planned for San Francisco, April 14 and Los Angeles, April 28. The Chicago roadshow was held March 10 and a Canadian show is planned.
In the year ahead, Cates said Amadeus will also be rolling out a new travel agent website where industry professionals can engage one-on-one with Amadeus and explore Amadeus’ new and enhanced packages, solutions, and services for their specific business type and needs.
Also planned for later this year is an Amadeus thought-leadership webinar series and a new online e-support center for agency customers in North America. “Now more then ever, we see a two-way dialogue and direct engagement with the North American travel agency community -- and the travel industry at large -- as the way forward in uncertain times,” said Cates. Amadeus also announced its soon to launch VacationLink leisure selling platform.
For further details or to RSVP for an upcoming “Talk With Amadeus 09” event, travel professionals should visit: http://tinyurl.com/talkwithamadeus09.