The question can be asked when you know that 84% of French people have prepared in 2019 their stays online and that 60% of them have booked all or part of their stays online. These percentages include searches for airline tickets, so let's first look at the reasons to say no.
No, because with the internet, everything is now done live 💻
Have fun checking the first 3 pages in Google on this topic to see that there are almost as many online ticket site platforms as there are letters in the Latin alphabet! And that's not counting the airline websites. Blogs and other travelers' opinions are finally competing in the advice to do without travel agencies. All this is part of a larger context of disintermediation that seems inevitable.
No, because TO stop doing it ✈️
"Why should we, travel agencies, do it? "
For example, those specialized in trekking offer their clients the option of taking care of flights for free trips. Not only for flights in Europe, but also for long haul like Canada or Thailand. No, Because managing flights, what a pain! 😱
At the beginning of the summer of 2021, many airlines are disrupting their flight plans: cancelled flights, change of service airports, tickets to be reissued. After the Icelandic volcano eruption in 2010, the strikes at Air France or air traffic controllers, the repatriation of travelers in 2020 linked to Covid-19, the sword of Damocles of assets, enough is enough.
And where is the IATA approval in all this?
It is less essential than in the past to sell airline tickets. And that's a good thing, because obtaining it requires going through a long, complex and expensive process. If you don't belong to an agency network, you can use airline consolidators, but the Covid-19 crisis has shown that this is not a panacea.
However, there are several advantages to being in charge of booking airline tickets.
Yes, you free up your customers' time 😴
By offering your customers to book their flights, they will thank you. It's that comparing airline offers, checking what is the policy of checked and cabin luggage, choosing your seat and menu, discovering that this so attractive price is valid only with a bank card that you didn't suspect the existence it has a name: chronophagy. Also, to your customers who plan to get up at 3am to book the best price, you will make their nights sweeter 😉. In 2019, a UK study showed that nearly half of travelers lamented spending more time researching and booking their trip, compared to 5 years ago.
Yes, you bring flexibility 🧘
Where airline websites and other online platforms still too often only offer rigidity.
- By putting an option on flights during several days if for example your customers are not sure of their dates.
- By offering to pay in several installments for a package tour set up several months in advance, where it will often be necessary to pay in one go.
- If some of your customers wish to travel around the world, to several countries of the same continent or to a single country, you have the freedom to propose solutions that will be more difficult to find on the website of an airline or a platform. For example, by using the services of airlines that do not belong to the same alliances (Oneworld, Star Alliance and SkyTeam).
Yes, your advice and assistance are real added values 🙏🏻
What agency hasn't had to deal with a customer asking for help after booking a non-changeable, non-refundable ticket on their own? Or getting to the wrong airport? Or realizing that a visa is necessary?
The health crisis that we have been going through for almost 18 months now, with its vagaries on travel (e.g. health protocols that change within a country and from one country to another), shows how valuable it is to be advised by a travel agency: a significant proportion of customers are aware of this: 40% according to a study commissioned by Amadeus.
Travel agencies are therefore there to provide assistance in case of unforeseen events before and during the trip (we think of the social movements in recent years in South America, especially in Bolivia). They also provide advice when designing a customized itinerary by managing special requests (travel for disabled people for example), by advising airports where taxes are lower.
Let's not forget the receptive agents who play an important role in the success of certain tour operators specializing in tailor-made tours in Northern Europe, for example, because they are able to offer customizable air sections.
Finally, if we take into account the quality/price ratio of your offers, they have nothing to envy with those found on the Internet by customers 💪.
And you, do you still include air tickets in your travel proposals?