Independent agents will be “more selective” about the tour operators they book with when travel resumes after the pandemic and may avoid the “big boys” who offer lower levels of commission and personal service.
Several agents said they would be taking this approach to which suppliers they choose to work with post-Covid, during Aito’s Kickstart 2021 online conference.
Martyn Fisher, who runs Greenstar Travel in Esher, said: “It’s taught us who to book with in the future. We will certainly be willing to book with Aito operators and will be way more selective than we were before.”
Fisher added that they have had to wait longer for refunds to be issued by larger operators, who also offer lower commission levels to agents of around 7-8%.
“We’re going to be so busy as we’ve all slimmed down and won’t need those small bookings,” he said.
Mark Pollard, from Tony Sheldon Travel in Maidenhead, added: “We want to support the operators who are on our side. We want to work as a team – agent and operator. We will work with friendly tour operators who are going to support us.”
Sandra Mutter, from Andara Travel in Solihull, said: “Through this process our operators are absolutely key. We have slimmed down our customer base so we can give a more personal service.”
Kirker Holidays’ Ted Wake, who is deputy chair of Aito Specialist Travel Agents group, stressed the importance of collaboration between agents and operators.
“We need to collaborate brilliantly with our suppliers,” he added. “We’re going to be selective about which airlines we use in the future and which hoteliers we work with.”
Aito Specialist Travel Agents chair Gemma Antrobus also talked about staying “positive” during the latest lockdown.
“The power of positivity has kept me going,” she said. “The comeback will be greater than the setback.”
Antrobus added that it was another positive sign that there had been no failures among Aito’s Specialist Travel Agents membership during the pandemic.