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Travel industry news

28 Nov 2018

BY Sophie Griffiths


'Look after your independent agents and we will look after you'

"Look after your independent agents and we will look after you,” was the scathing response from one agent on TTG’s Facebook page to news this week that Thomas Cook had issued its second profit warning in two months.

Sophie Griffiths Leader image

For some, the news was unsurprising. Cook had admitted in its September Q3 results that summer trading had been “tough”, with bookings apparently impacted by the hot weather.

And Cook chief executive Peter Fankhauser made no secret on Tuesday that changes need to be made – namely within its UK tour operator arm, where he insisted Cook would be paying “particular attention on addressing its performance”.

Agents, though, it seemed, had little sympathy. Just a month ago Cook was accused of “pricing independents out of the market” after launching a price review where it refused to rule out withdrawing price parity. In doing so, it seems to have lost vital support from its would-be advocates in the trade.

The timing is interesting – TTG’s exclusive this week on Jet2holidays’ launch of in-store booking pods (and branded wheelie bins for homeworkers) was, in the main, warmly welcomed as a sign of its commitment to the trade.

Meanwhile, this week we reveal dnata Travel Europe has also strengthened its agent focus, announcing it is to widen its short-haul B2B offering. Alongside this, it will create new bespoke websites for Gold Medal and Travel 2. “We could have taken the cheaper option and built one version,” admitted chief executive John Bevan, “but we knew we would upset a lot of agents”.

And that, for both dnata and Jet2holidays it seems, is key.

With the shadow of Brexit looming large, few could disagree the UK is braced for a bumpy few months. Investing in those who support you will be more critical than ever. Cook would be wise to take heed.

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