Andrew Olsen Andrew Olsen

Defending against supplier and agent failure

By Andrew Olsen – Chief executive, Travel Agents’ Association of New Zealand

As we come to the close of 2019, I have a quick reflection on a few emerging trends to keep an eye on in 2020.The agent-supplier-customer ecosystem mostly functions well but we’ve seen a few situations develop which can quickly upset that equilibrium.

Supplier and agent failure hurts everyone in this carefully balanced chain and failure costs run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, damages business and strands customers. The Tempo collapse put industry on high alert and the drums started beating for a higher sensitivity to risk.

At TAANZ we’ll round out the year with Defending against supplier and agent failureno agent defaults or money owed for the fourth calendar year. That’s a tribute to everyone and we’ll reset for 2020 with the same mindset but it’s still troubling for the community at large when non bonded agents fail. It brings the spotlight on the agency community for the wrong reasons. And we have the current SAA difficulties which are very visible and troubling.

So what defence is there against the impacts of failure? Failure doesn’t happen in an instant. Look at any collapse in hindsight and the indicators are there to see. Unfortunately we don’t have the benefit of hindsight so we need to do a better job, as an inter-dependent community with a lot at stake, of sharing information, meeting risk head on, and mitigating if not totally eradicating failure.

What does sharing information mean? It means TAANZ, the whole New Zealand agency community, IATA, and all suppliers work more closely to join up dots and go to their collective legal limits to raise the awareness of risk and take all action they can as soon as they can to keep this delicate eco-system functioning.

On the risk protection front, I’m buoyed by the work AFTA’s Agency Chargeback Scheme (ACS) is doing. Through the scheme, TAANZ is bringing you current and correct information on supplier risk. In doing so we are giving you information that has not previously been available to you, helping you assess risk to protect your business and your customer.

Work has been underway for some time to get the scheme up and running here. The expectation for early 2020 is TAANZ will pull together stakeholders from its brands and groups to examine payment partner options available for New Zealand to then get a pilot group up and running. Getting ACS into market and widely adopted will give agencies some protection against risk. We’ll bring you more on ACS after the break.

I welcome all comments on how the industry can better prepare itself to manage risk.
Happy Christmas. See you in 2020.

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