A survey by Irish Travel Trade News of travel agencies nationwide reveals that just 50% of agents use a dynamic packaging booking engine – with Flexibletrips proving to be their top choice, closely followed by Bookabed and Arrow Tours. Agents believe that dynamic packaging offers better client value and better agent margin – sometimes.
The questionnaire was sent to 140 travel agencies countrywide and 50 responded – a response rate of 36%. The agents were guaranteed that neither their name nor that of their agency would be used or disclosed to any other third party.
One agent commented: “Most of these are not yes/no answers.” While this was true, the questions and potential answers were deliberately kept as short and simple as possible in order to maximise the response rate – and this was achieved. Respondents were also encouraged to make additional, and if necessary ‘less definitive’, answers – and most of these comments are included below.
Another prefaced their answers with: “Hopefully, this is not going to be a ‘knock the agent’ for trying to supply a package as requested by the client that would be outside the normal package holiday service. We make sure we look after the customer, giving them good value – after all, we want them to come back to us for the service, and the price.” There was no hidden agenda – ITTN, as always, was giving the travel agents of Ireland the chance to voice their views and we are reporting them here fully, independently and without bias.
Only one of the 50 respondents mentioned insurance, which is perhaps surprising, given the increased importance of this – for client and agent alike – when offering dynamic packages.
Asked to comment by ITTN, Ciarán Mulligan, Joint Managing Director of Blue Insurances, said: “Insurance has certainly become an important factor for travel agents. As many are aware, if you sell two or more travel components, under the Holiday and Package Act the agent can be held liable, so it is important for them to ensure that they have adequate professional indemnity insurance and liability insurance that includes liability under the Holidays and Package Act.
“Comprehensive travel insurance is also a must for their clients and both our Premier and Premier Cover offer really good cover to the insured.
“With more and more dynamic packaging happening, travel insurance covers such as Missed Departure (for connecting flights including point to point including connections in European airports), Cruise Connection (covering missed embarkation due to flight delay), and Travel Disruption (covering volcanic ash, snow, bad weather, strikes) are a must.
“Some covers are optional but should always be offered to clients, such as Cruise Connection for cruise holidays and Travel Disruption should always be offered to all clients travelling as it covers most scenarios.
“Annual travel insurance is still the most popular choice of policy. Agents really do need to offer this cover and if they capture the insured’s private health insurance details then their pre-existing medical conditions are automatically covered, unless their condition is terminal or they are under tests or investigations. The agent also gets a reduced rate!”
The overwhelming majority of the 50 respondents – 86% – believe that dynamic packaging offers their clients better value than charter packages. However, this often comes with a “sometimes” qualification as regards price. The ‘better value’ can often mean more choices and greater flexibility in length of stay.
An even greater majority of respondents – 94% – believe that dynamic packaging provides them with better margin. Again, this often comes with a “sometimes” qualification, but it clearly shows that, while most agents provide the clients with financial benefits to be had from dynamic packaging, even more are also recognising the financial benefits that can be made to their own bottom line.
The 50 respondents were equally divided as to whether they use a dynamic packaging booking engine – and of those who do about half nominated more than one.
The survey results in detail were as follows:
1. When you use dynamic packaging, as opposed to charter packages, do you believe that you are offering your client better value?
DON’T KNOW: 6%
Yes – once clients have a dynamic package travel insurance
Yes – more choices and often better value
Yes – at times, the reality is that with dynamic packaging the consumer typically makes the choice from a broader range of accommodation and options
Yes – but not always
Yes – it can be substantially better value at times when we dynamically package; however, sometimes if it is only a very small amount I would go with the tour operators
Yes – better service, price sometimes
Yes – offering clients better value and more choice on amount of days too
Yes – in many cases it is considerably cheaper to self-package, so yes, we do believe we are offering better value; however, we offer our customers both options and allow them to make the choice
Yes – sometimes
No – but it may be a more flexible alternative than a tour operator’s package
Don’t Know – not always, but we can offer dates and times that clients require
Don’t Know – depends, both options will be compared
Don’t Know – not always better value
2. When you use dynamic packaging, as opposed to charter packages, do you make better margin?
DON’T KNOW: 4%
Yes – mostly
Yes – definitely!
Yes – at times
Yes – generally much better margin
Yes – may vary depending on airline fares
Yes – sometimes
Yes – most of the time
No – not always
Don’t Know – it depends, clients have looked most of this up before they call in, so we just add our fees and mark-ups
3. Do you use a dynamic packaging booking engine?
Yes – sometimes, it depends on what is handy
Yes – but we would also check booking the segments separately and seeing the best price and commission
Yes – airline website first, then a booking engine
Yes – our first choice would always be to support tour operators, but at times low-cost airlines offer more routes and flexibility from the West of Ireland
Yes – sometimes
No – generally not, but sometimes I would check
4. If yes, which one(s)?
Arrow Tours 7
Globe Hotels 1
Tullys Travel 1