Tourism Breaking News

Withdrawing agents’ commission not a good sign

Rajan Sehgal, Chairman, Northern Region, TAAI, says “Emirates is expanding its network fast and already has the largest number of flights, amongst all the international carries, flying to and from India. All this is because of the support of the travel agents. Agents in India have been marketing, selling, bringing customers and giving credit to them and paying the airline in time. Emirates does not understand that this could negatively impact the business. Offering 3 per cent commission on the basic fare is only peanuts for Emirates, but it is still following suit as other international airlines. Withdrawing this commission is not a good sign. However, they would soon realise that travel agents are important for the business. the Indian travel industry, unlike in other nations, is not very strong and has no support from the government. Hence, everybody is cutting the profit of the travel agent, but they will soon realise that travel agents are a major contributor to their business.”

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A disappointing act by Emirates

Disappointed by the latest circular by Emirates to cut down commissions to one per cent, Rajat Bagaria, Committee Member, The Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI), says, “Airlines should be encouraging their travel agency sales force rather than disarming them. Agents always considered EK as an agent-friendly airline, and we rewarded the airline with load factors from all the cities. However, this move brings them at par with other airlines. This comes at a time when the summer season is about to begin, and when we are already reeling under the Service Tax amendment impact. Coupled with the reduced commission, the web disparity, and direct promotions to the frequent fliers and corporates, the margins of the agents will be drastically hit. I hope they have call centres well equipped to handle customer calls and complaints.”

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Retract this decision to cut agency commission

A torchbearer for the eroding agency commissions in India, Biji Eapen, National President, IATA Agents Association of India (IAAI) reacts sharply to the news. He says, “Needless to say, this has come as a rude shock to the accredited travel agents fraternity in India as it is solely their market support that has placed Emirates above the national carrier in the Indian skies. The matter is being discussed with our National Management Committee and a formal request will be sent to Emirates to retract its decision.”

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Agents should get 5% commission

Reacting to this ongoing tug of war between airlines and travel agents, M.P. Joy, South India Chapter Chairman, Enterprising Travel Agents Association (ETAA) and Director, Voyargo Vacations in Bengaluru, says that in the process of distributing air tickets of various airlines, agents incur overheads of managing office, staff, etc. which are increasing every day. “In any business, the facilitator/agent must benefit so that the system works smoothly. I wonder why the airlines are reducing commissions to travel agents when they are the ones to benefit from the travel agents. Any effort in any business should be appreciated with adequate compensation to take care of the expenses as well as margins. It is unfortunate that airlines are not supporting us.” He adds, “Airlines should extend at least five per cent commission to authorised travel agents who support them.”

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Emirates will lose its lustre

Reacting to the announcement made by Emirates, Sunil Kumar, National President, Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) says, “Not only is this an unfair move but also a move that has come at the wrong time. Travel agents have always supported Emirates in a big way by promoting them to their customers. As a result of this move, Emirates will lose its edge as agents will now move to other airlines. After all, why would anyone want to push a product that doesn’t give them any benefit? So, this move will not only hurt the agents but also the airline. The airline has also timed it badly as agents had already committed to a price structure for future bookings beyond April 2017. This abrupt announcement will hurt the agents a lot as the main season starts from April onwards. We were still recovering from demonetisation when this is announced. The team at TAAI is currently discussing what the association’s response to Emirates should be.”

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Emirates cuts agent commission from 3% to 1%

Another large international airline has decided to cut its distribution expenses by revising its travel agent commission from the current three per cent to one. In a letter issued to the travel agents and signed by Essa Sulaiman Ahmad, Vice President – India and Nepal, Emirates, the airline states, ‘…volatility has become the new normal in global aviation. Market, industry and customer dynamics add to the complexity of our business. So as the world economy and industry changes, so are we. Effective April 1, 2017, Emirates in India will revise the standard IATA commission  from current 3% to 1%. All tickets issued prior to April 1, 2017, will continue to attract the current 3% standard commission. We do understand that this move may require a change in your business model, but we hope together, we can emerge better and bigger.’ The letter ends with ‘Assuring you of our support at all times’.

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Sarovar Hotels steps into Zambia with Sarovar Premiere Lusaka

Expanding its overseas portfolio, Sarovar Hotels Pvt. Ltd. announces the signing of its latest project in Africa, Sarovar Premiere Lusaka in Zambia. This development marks Sarovar’s presence in the five countries in Africa including Tanzania, Kenya, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Zambia. Sarovar Premiere Lusaka is an 82 key all-suite hotel conveniently located around the city centre. Built in elegant designs with all modern facilities, it is the only all-suite hotel in town which will offer the space and comfort of a personal apartment, an extension of a home. The hotel is being developed by Neelkanth Group based out of Zambia whose core business lies in steel, lime, copper cables and real estate. Sarovar Premiere Lusaka is expected to open in 2018. Sarovar Premiere Lusaka represents Sarovar’s exponential growth in Africa. Making its presence in Lusaka, the largest city of Zambia and one of the fastest developing cities in South Africa, the group hopes to spread the signature Sarovar hospitality across the continent here. Upon completion, Sarovar Premiere Lusaka will offer 82 guest suites, an all-day dining, a bar lounge and an alfresco diner. The hotel will also make for an ideal destination with its excellent banquet and conference facilities. Those looking for some leisure indulgences can unwind at the spa, swimming pool or the wellness centre equipped with the best of services and amenities.

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Travelport becomes first GDS to receive IATA’s NDC Aggregator certification

Travelport announced that it has become the first GDS to be granted with both ‘Aggregator Level One’ certification and ‘IT Provider Level Two’ status by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as part of its New Distribution Capability (NDC) programme. For airlines, this means that Travelport is able to fully integrate with its NDC application programme interface should the airline choose to use NDC-XML messaging to distribute and deliver their fares and products. For travel agencies and travel management companies, this means that when shopping for and booking flights via Travelport’s Travel Commerce Platform, they will have even more enhanced travel content and greater access to ancillary offers. In particular, Travelport-connected agents will be able to make ancillary sales post the original flight booking, and through their preferred agency workflows, for the first time. Travelport has also achieved the NDC-capable ‘IT Provider’ Level Two status, making it only the second organisation—and first GDS–ever to be designated as NDC certified and NDC Capable.  This further expands its NDC capabilities and means that Travelport also has the option to distribute IATA NDC offers for fares and prices on behalf of the airlines electing to use IATA’s industry standards.

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Trafalgar offers agents all of its Europe and Britain departures

Tour operator, Trafalgar, has reaffirmed its commitment to making it easier for agents to book the brand with confidence, by revealing that 100 per cent of its 2017 Europe and Britain and Asia departures are now definite. Commenting on the milestone ‘Definite Departures’ status, Nicholas Lim, President, Trafalgar (Asia) said, “At Trafalgar, we are wholly focused on strengthening relationships with our valued industry partners, ensuring that they are fully equipped to sell our guided holidays with confidence and ease. We are thrilled to be able to guarantee agents that the chances of winning with Trafalgar are 100 per cent when it comes to selling our extensive portfolio of 109 guided holidays for summer in Europe and Britain and 17 different trips across Asia. Crucial to our brand success is the confidence that our partners continue to place in us, so for that we extend our sincere thanks and wish them all the best for an unprecedented selling season in 2017.” The news on ‘Definite Departures’ complements the latest endeavour from Trafalgar to simplify the sales process for partners. Additional incentives to book Trafalgar include the current Early Payment Discount (EPD) of 7.5 per cent (valid until 30 March 2017) which is combinable with Trafalgar Frequent Traveller discounts, to enable another five per cent savings. On many trips, young travellers (5-17 years old) enjoy up to 10 per cent when accompanying an adult, and solo travellers can save by pairing up with a fellow traveller (of the same gender) in a twin room. If Trafalgar is not able find a match, then the solo traveller can stay in a single room at no extra cost.

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TCI’s ‘The Grand Indian Holiday Sale’ to help expand India’s holiday market

Thomas Cook (India) Ltd. in a strategic initiative to expand India’s travel market, has conceptualised an annual property, “The Grand Indian Holiday Sale”, carefully timed to coincide with the peak booking window for summer vacations- India’s largest holiday season. The focused intent to catalyse holiday demand is delivered via a range of specially curated offers and discounts targeting India’s quintessential ‘value seeker’. This intense 10 day sale offers India’s travellers a range of attractive deals and discounts on both domestic and international bookings, covering flights, hotels and holiday packages. To capture its diversity of customers, digitally native and retail, and ensure convenience and easy access, “The Grand Indian Holiday Sale”, is available across Thomas Cook India’s omnichannel network – its online platforms (mobile & website), call centers & extensive offline outlets. Thomas Cook India’s ‘The Great Indian Holiday Sale’ extends across the company’s portfolio of India and International destinations and will be promoted via an intense marketing blitz across outdoor, print and digital over a two week period, across key metros of Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Pune and Ahmedabad. Abraham Alapatt, President & Group Head – Marketing, Service Quality, Financial Services & Innovation, Thomas Cook India said, “The Grand Indian Holiday Sale’’ has been conceptualized as a powerful annual property making holidays affordable for every Indian. The initiative is designed to leverage the critical booking period for India’s peak vacation season with exciting deals, thus driving demand and conversions. As a pioneer in the industry, our grand sale in the travel and holiday category intends to build a strong annual property that Indian travellers look forward to every year.” He added, “In addition to the range of attractive …

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