INDSUurSve Ty RY
INDIES STILL uppliers that try to court
independent agents with
RING UP PROFITS S Web-based booking platforms might get better
results by investing more
in what some consider
an outmoded communication tool: the phone.
NACTA’s 2007 Independent Agent Report,
based on an e-mail survey
of 627 member agents, found that 55%
of respondents still use telephone reservations centers to book cruises and
36.1% do so to book tours (Fig. 1).
Joannie Ogg, NACTA president, said
she believes that many agents look online, but call to book. “Old habits die
hard,” she said.
The second-best way to book, the
survey found, is through supplier Web
sites, but they’re a distant second. Just
25% of agents said they use a supplier
site for booking cruises, and slightly
less, 24%, said they do so for tour and
air bookings. The numbers creep up
to the 30% range for hotels and cars.
Nonsupplier sites come in third as a
preferred booking mode. These sites,
such as Expedia, attract less than 10%
of agents for cruise and tour reservations, somewhat more for air, hotel
BY USING PHONE
By Donna Tunney
GDSs LOSING GROUND
The losers in the independent
agents’ booking routine appear to be
Just 2% of respondents use a GDS
to book tours, and 5% use it to book
cruises. The GDS does better with hotels, car rentals and air.
The majority of independent retailers who had GDS accounts in 2006
have since dropped them. According to the survey, which was released
in August, 12% have accounts this
year, down from 30.5% a year ago.
(The survey notes that GDS usage by
ASTA members in 2006 had dropped
to 86%, down from 98% seven years
earlier, an indication that the GDS is
losing ground across the board.)
Twenty-two percent of respondents
said tours represent the majority of
their revenue, and 15.5% said that
“FIT/Trip Planning” brings in the
majority of revenue.
ABOUT THE HOSTS
NACTA’s Ogg said GDS usage continues to decline because if an independent agent is booking air, he or she
is likely making the reservation on the
site as a service
to clients. Presumably, these
are leisure clients who have
miles. The survey bears that
out. It found
a quarter of
agents who book air do so through
the airline’s site.
The majority of respondents work
with a host agency, and just over half,
51.5%, said they split commissions
(Fig. 2, Page 53) with the average split
being about 72% to the agent and
28% to the host. A small number of
respondents, less than 5%, keep 100%
of commissions and pay a fee to the
host agency. The
fee is $286.
who have their
dipped slightly to
36% from 39%
last year. Nearly a
third of respon-
Another booking channel included
in the survey was VAX VacationAc-cess. The free, online system created
by Trisept Solutions draws a miniscule
percentage of agents booking cruises,
1.6%. It does better for tours, 14%,
and for air tickets, 6.5%.
dents said they maintain and use their
own supplier relationships in tandem
with those of their host.
CRUISES STILL NO. 1
Preferred suppliers continue to get
the lion’s share of support from independent agents, the survey revealed.
Nearly 60% of respondents said their
annual revenue involves preferred
Cruise bookings continue to represent the majority of the NACTA
members’ revenue. Sixty percent
of respondents said so, with other
travel products falling far behind.
Other incentives provided by preferred suppliers include notification
of special offers, education, fam trips,
an agent-dedicated Web site, overrides, co-op advertising and market-
1 Independents: Primary booking sites
Telephone GDS/CRS VAX Web site
Cruises 55.0% 5.3% 1.6% 8.9%
Tours 36.1% 2.1% 13.9% 9.4%
Hotels 17.3% 10.0% 5.5% 22.3%
Carrentals 13.1% 9.4% 2.6% 19.8%
Air 9.2% 14.8% 6.5% 21.8%
Note: ‘ Web site’ designates online booking sites such as Expedia
Supplier Web site