Reminds me of when politicians say they have complete confidence in someone who’s done something bad and got caught, you know it’s only a matter of days (sometimes weeks) before they’re going down
Totally, the words ‘I have total confidence in…’ generally translate as ‘the P45 is in the post’ for all politicians* and football coaches.
*seemingly with the exception of Chris Grayling who, I presume, is either kept in post for a bet or because he has incriminating pictures of our beloved Prime Minister ‘running through’ a field of wheat.
Apologies I didn’t mean to make this thread go politics but I’m pretty convinced they keep Chris Grayling around because no matter what anybody else does he always makes them look good
Another company that hasn’t adapted to what people want, little shops with a row of magazines and no one to speak to doesn’t work, it’s hardly rocket science. The sad thing is, you can get some amazing deals in travel agents, if you can be bothered to go to one. Last time I went, there was two people dealing and both had customers, that’s not a problem, but booking a holiday isn’t a 2 minute job so it’s normal just to walk out, rather than hang around for so long. They haven’t adapted to technology, no interactive terminals or anything.
It’s airline is ok, but hardly anyone knows you can book with it, they all think its when you book a holiday through them.
You can’t polish a turd…
I suppose the travel giants like Thomas Cook and Tui are three separate businesses under one roof. Retail, Airline and Tour Operator.
This made sense when we all bought package holidays - but that was the 90s and these days we are more likely to buy a flight and then look for somewhere to stay.
In a mostly post-package holiday world, the tour operator part of the business is increasingly niche, the airline part comes under relentless competition from the firms that specialise in that arena and the high-street travel agent just begins to look like an extravagance for the sake of brand awareness.
My high street used to have a Lunn Poly, a Thomas Cook, a Co-op Travel and an independent that was under the World-Choice banner. Larger towns would likely have had a Going Places and a First Choice too.
These days we have two Thomas Cooks (one being the ex-Co-op - surely one will close soon), the Tui (Lunn Poly) and the indy shut up shop years ago. But regardless of which agents are in town, one thing that they both have in common is the fact that the only customers in them seem to be queuing up at the bureau de change window.
I can’t imagine that’s a particularly high-margin part of their offer, given the competition from banks, supermarkets, the good old Post Office and the likes of Revolut.
I’m not saying that there’s no room for a bricks-and-mortar travel agent - but it’s going to be a niche affair. I certainly don’t think there’s room in the market for each brand to have their own office anymore (even if they are more consolidated than they used to be)
I don’t think travel agents are worth their salt tbh, in the days of global services like Uber it’s a lot nicer and more comfy to get public transport or a shuttle to the city you’re staying in from the airport you get off in then ubering to your hotel.
Flights are awfully competitive as you mentioned Liam and as such it’s a lot better just book them and run it through an airline rewards club.
I know places like Thomas Cook partner with hotels and sort the travel out and you typically have food cared for while you’re there - but who wants to go to a hotel in another country and not leave the nearest hour away because you need to make sure you take advantage of your inclusive food? No one
My friend is blind, the only place that can arrange everything for her is a travel agent, because they understand, online companies do not have the knowledge or the care to actually care.
So maybe for you it doesn’t work, but for others it does.
They are dated and need to change, but there is still a need for travel agents.
You know it’s just occurred to me… I’ve not seen an actual holiday brochure in probably ten years.
Always remember as a kid, my mum coming home with about 10 kilos of the bloody things then spending a week scouring for hotels she fancied and were on-budget - then cross referencing in other brochures to see if another operator had the same hotel cheaper.
She’d sit there with a notebook and a calculator. The grid for working out under-occupancy was mental.
I’m so glad booking.com exists these days!
That’s a good point, actually.
Come to think of it I think the last time I went to the USA it was arranged by an agent.
My mate did all the research online then called some telephone based agency and invited them to beat his best quote. They did, so maybe they have their uses!
The one thing I like about a package is the ATOL protection.
6 years ago we were stranded in Greece due to a technical fault with the plane elsewhere in Greece.
As we had booked a package we were kept in suitable accommodation with no journey to the small airport.
I agree it’s easier to book everything separately and most times cheaper.
OK - here’s a point of view from a ‘travel agent’ and someone who often is asked by the trade press for their viewpoint on things…
The issues with Thomas Cook go back a long way, before Harriet Green took charge they very nearly went bust. The mergers of the big four (Thomson, First Choice, Thomas Cook and Airtours), didn’t really do any favours for them, and they didn’t grasp the fact that they needed a different and unique product which you couldn’t find with anyone else. This was while Thomson was contracting hotels exclusively - and rebranding them, so ‘Sensatori’, ‘Sensimar’ etc.
In its basic form, a ‘packaged holiday’ through one of the big operators is very simple - its just a flight, transfer and a hotel. Its not difficult to buy that online. Drew is quite right that any ‘package’ should be ATOL protected (i.e. guaranteed financially by the CAA, so NO you don’t need to pay by credit card…) and are bound by the Package Travel Regulations - which gives you rights as a consumer. And no, you can’t buy ATOL cover for yourself, it is very expensive to acquire.
To say that ‘travel agents’ are dead is a bit misleading. Yes, we are not the first stop for those wanting a cheap beach holiday anymore, but there are so many other types of holiday available on the market and not everyone wants that sort of holiday. There are also many types of holiday almost impossible to book online - multi centre tailor made holidays are very tricky online.
There is also a real growth in the luxury end of the market - with more of a concierge / PA type style service for those who don’t have time or the inclination to do their own booking. Especially working from home which is really growing.
Also at the lower end of the market, another new home working agency is coming over from the states all Intetravel, with their promise that anyone can be a travel agent - basically selling it as a way to pay off your own holiday. They are really aggressively recruiting on social media at the moment - annoying lots of agents in the process!!
Good travel agents also add value - so we provide things like lounge passes and chauffeur transfers from home for our clients.
Absolutely, and a good travel agent who knows what they are doing should be able to.
Yes, Brochures are on the way out - but that’s not really a bad thing.
Not every travel agent is dated. I can work remotely, all my clients have my email address and can email me at whatever time of day.
Some of the technology can be a bit old and clunky some of the time, but its being improved (slowly!).
Although I can say that Viewdata went a couple of years ago!!
Of course, Greece being in the EU means that all flights (even on the cheapest of airlines) have protection that means they will arrange (or refund) accommodation in the event of problems. And even provide cash compensation in the event of technical problems!
That isn’t actually correct. There is no protection on flight only bookings anywhere in Europe.
What you are probably thinking of is EU261, but compensation in the case of more than 3 hour delay or cancellation hinges on a number of conditions.
Airlines are also duty bound to provide overnight accommodation, meals etc if your flight is delayed, but it isn’t protection.
All European airlines, and all flights leaving Europe, must provide you with food and accommodation in the event your flight is delayed for whatever reason. You’re up a creek without a paddle if they go bankrupt, but Drew’s example is totally covered.
Yes, they do have to provide accommodation, food etc - but that isn’t the same as protection.
Drew’s is, yes as it was covered by an ATOL. The same as if you purchased a flight which was covered by an ATOL - which you can do. Airlines are not required to provide an ATOL on flight only bookings, something which the industry is trying to change.
When the Wife and I went to the US in May, we organised the flights, hire car and hotel separately. I looked at Booking.com and a couple of other booking sites but in the end, I booked our accommodation with the hotel direct as it worked out almost £60 cheaper. I had to pay a very small deposit online to secure the booking, but that was done on my Starling debit card, in US Dollars. I paid the balance on the room the day we left the hotel, again on my Starling debit card. By that point, the Pound had strengthened against the Dollar slightly, so it worked out a few quid cheaper than if I had booked it weeks before. May 2019 was a good time to go to the US, the Pound has slumped a bit in the intervening two months.
We almost always organise our own package these days except for our all inclusive holidays to the Caribbean which are done direct with the provider over the phone. We haven’t actually booked a holiday through a High Street travel agent in over 15 years. The last time we did actually bother going into one, we’d already priced up the holiday online with Thomson before going into the Thomson travel agent in our town, only to be told that if we booked it in store, the price would go up by over £100 for one of their staff to book it for us. We promptly walked out and booked it online and haven’t bothered with a walk in shop again.