When I first started back in 2006 the rhetoric was all about airline commissions disappearing, things will never be the same again, etc.
Well, it didn’t really pan out that way and nowadays I find that commissions earned on airfares are generally higher and fairer than what they were then.
The huge difference however, has been the introduction of Low Cost Carriers (LCCs), adding a new rung to the competition ladder. The benefits – and obvious profit-making factors of these outfits have proved to be wildly successful – with companies like RyanAir raking in huge yearly profits while their competitors running ‘full-service’ airlines have struggled to keep their heads above water.
During the first few years it was easy to talk customers out of flying with these types of airlines, poor schedules, badly located terminals, cancellations, terrible customer service, etc.
But, this has now changed drastically, with LCCs winning awards for punctuality and customer service over their older ‘full-service’ cousins.
A lot of the time customers simply prefer the route or timetable with a LCC, so how can we argue with that? It’s simple, we shouldn’t. Why risk losing a sale with the potential to book hotels, tours, car hire, and insurance… Over a measly few dollars lost on the airfare?
Travel Agents should be selling the benefits of using a LCC – like choice of seating (most airlines charge for this now anyways), whether you want baggage or not, meals, drinks and entertainment – rather than lamenting the loss of profit. We should be helping our customers spend their dollars saved on other products with a higher commission base.
Another big complaint about LCCs is that (most) of them are only able to be booked direct via a website. Yeah, I get it – another booking system to learn and understand, right? Deal with it. Because, after the initial pain of opening another window and using a credit card to book it just gets easier.
Firstly, it’s much easier to convert a customer on the spot if you cannot guarantee a hold for them. By giving them the best option (with add-ons) on the spot, it puts you in the position to secure full payment right then and there.
Also, this customer potentially already experienced another Travel Agent being horrible to them just because they wanted to get the best deal – so by treating a LCC client with dignity you may just win a customer for life.
Now onto booking maintenance and changes – LCCs could not be more up front and simple. We all know how excruciating it can be to wait on an airline of ticket centre to confirm or deny an adcol and cost. Booked with a LCC? Simply enter the booking number, name and make a few clicks and you’re there.
Another major win for Travel Agents is that LCCs have opened up the world to millions upon millions more travellers every year – people that had simply been priced out of the market earlier – and more customers mean a better travel industry.
So, the next time you roll your eyes at another ‘Jetstar customer’ try and think about the bigger picture – one where Travel Agents, customers and airlines are all winners.
What’s your take on LLCs?
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