The Travel Network Group is trialling a new concierge service in its Worldchoice stores aiming at help agents through the upcoming ban on card surcharging.
The proposed scheme sees customers pay a “nominal fee” added to the total cost of their holiday and in return given access to extra services such as, the printing out of boarding passes, an online cruise personaliser, no in-house amendment fees and a 24-hour customer support team.
If successful, the service will be rolled out to members before the end of the year.
The consortium said it was hoping to encourage customer loyalty and help mitigate the outlawing of surcharging due to come into force in January.
From customer research carried out in its stores over the past fortnight, the group claimed the “vast majority” of customers surveyed responded positively when asked if they would be prepared to pay for a concierge service – while customers reacted “negatively” when asked about the option of paying a booking fee.
Gary Lewis, chief executive, said: “We have used the principles of our work with the Institute of Customer Service and taken a creative approach to what is a negative situation. Our members are understandably concerned about the new legislation coming into play and we have been looking at ways to help them mitigate the loss of earnings.
"We have approached our business partners about this issue and the reaction has been mixed. Some are saying that they will look to increase commissions for agents, whilst others have said they categorically won’t.
“This concierge service is a way of offering customers an enhanced level of service, whilst at the same time protecting agents’ profitability. The vast majority of consumers that have been asked about whether they would be happy to pay for the service have said they would.”
Lewis said that the group would continue to trial the scheme in its owned stores, with a potential roll-out to members taking place before Christmas.
He added that members would be supported with marketing materials to use online and in-store.