OTAs: Agents fight back

OTAs: Agents fight back

Travel agents and brokers may be working harder than ever for their money, but there is no question that they are gaining ground back from the online competition, the NZ Travel Brokers conference heard over the weekend.
‘OTAs (online travel agents) around the world are struggling; many have plummeting share prices,’ says Steve Lee, director of NZTB.

‘They are not getting the traction that they had at the start because travel agents are fighting back. OTAs are getting bad press and people are getting sick of the misleading information they are finding on the internet.

‘They are struggling, which is great. We like that.’
Other speakers and attendees also had encouraging words for the face-to-face travel community.
‘The real enemy is online – we want people to book through you,’ Cristina Magni of Virtuoso told the broker audience.
Trade exhibitors spoke of overcoming challenges from online booking agents.

‘We asked ourselves why people book on line,’ says Robyn Galloway, director of Innovative Travel, ‘and partly it is because people think travel companies only deal with big groups. So we have evolved to emphasise experiences.
‘We have come up with ‘select and mix’ – people can choose to play petanque with the locals and then go to a family dinner. They can do a meditation class or have a picnic by a waterfall.’
She says this allows travellers to put their own individual finishing touches to their holiday.

‘We are giving them back control and we have seen some real success since we introduced the concept earlier this year.’