"Tour operator to increase agent commission" is not a headline you’ve seen very often in TTG in the past few years.
So it was something of a pleasant surprise this week when Kuoni followed some other operators in announcing that boosting commission – to help agents offset the credit card fees they will have to absorb from January – is exactly what it intends to do.
Kuoni, Prestige and Sunvil have certainly endeared themselves to the agent community by pledging to pay 0.5% more commission to independent agents next year. Few travel businesses have margin to spare in the current climate, but operators that back their agent partners in this way will no doubt win their loyalty.
However, unless every other operator follows suit, agents would still be left sucking up the fees on some, if not all, of their transactions, meaning alternative coping mechanisms must still be sought.
Agents described to us this week some of the different ways in which they’re intending to mitigate the additional cost to their own businesses, from introducing direct debit payments to banning the use of credit cards altogether. But it’s clear there still remains a lot of confusion and anxiety around the issue.
That’s why TTG is holding an interactive Facebook Live event next week to discuss the matter, bringing TravLaw, Abta, Advantage and The Travel Network Group together to share ideas on how agents can try to cope with the changes – including the likely legal and financial implications of those approaches.
The event takes place on September 15, so please send in your own questions and comments ahead of, and during, the session.
Don’t worry if you can’t tune in online at 10am on the day: the video content will remain live for you to watch when you can, and we’ll cover the debate with a thorough write-up of all the advice from our expert panel.
There’s one thing which is crystal clear: “Travel agency fails due to credit card fees” is a headline no one wants to see.