Travel experts want streamlined ancillary distribution

TRAVEL companies around the world are keen to sell ancillary airline products but seek a more efficient booking process, preferably through the GDS, according to findings of Travelport’s global airline merchandising survey.

The survey, conducted with 610 travel companies in 12 countries worldwide, found that top impacts from the growth of ancillary products were confusion around the services offered by each airline, productivity and the need to offer these services to remain a full-service agency.

Only 16 per cent of respondents saw unbundling as an opportunity to charge or increase fees and 44 per cent of respondents said they did not impose additional charges for booking optional services.

Travelport found that agencies would be more interested in selling optional services if the process was more efficient, as the current booking process requires approximately 29 percent more time.

Findings indicated a strong demand for a single aggregated distribution channel, as opposed to the current arrangement where some services are available through the GDS and others on airline websites and by phone.

The GDS was listed as the preferred channel to book and sell optional services by 70 per cent of respondents.

Eight per cent of agencies are not booking optional services for their customers. Forty-one per cent of European travel consultants said ancillary services “doesn’t generate any additional revenues”, while 33 per cent of American consultants said “most services are not available for agency booking”.

Respondents also indicated their preference for having branded fares – fares that are bundled with optional services – on GDS, saying that such fares allow them to offer a full service to clients and stay competitive with airline websites.

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