Agents hope to see business models reassessed once the Covid-19 crisis is over.
The call comes after Haslemere Travel managing director Gemma Antrobus wrote an article on ttgmedia.com calling for industry-wide monetisation of agents’ time.
“We all want clients to rebook for a future date or hold that money as a credit,” she wrote. “But these clients will then not be booking further down the line and we will have to weather that loss of business.”
She continued: “When we come through this, surely it would be the perfect time to change the way we value ourselves as an industry and amend its structure.”
She added any change would need industry-wide input, “especially from trade bodies”.
Mark Swords, of Swords Travel, already charges a £150 holding fee to those who repeatedly enquire but do not book, which is refunded upon booking.
“I think [Antrobus’s suggestion] is a great idea, but [any fee] would need to be charged across the board, otherwise consumers might just go to an agency that didn’t impose it,” he said.
“A time like this would allow the industry to get around the table to discuss it, as we agents can’t go on as we did before.”
Travel Time World agent Ashley Quint added: “You have to look at what value you add to a client’s experience, not just knowledge and experience – but physical benefits. [Such a move] will also require some help from tour operators.”
Gary Lewis, chief executive of The Travel Network Group, said after the current challenges he “expected us all to look again at our existing business models” for better financial protection.