The latest survey by Advantage Travel Centres shows it is becoming more agent friendly according to the consortium.

All partners were awarded ticks depending on factors such as whether they only sell through the travel trade, discount on direct sales, price match, capture customer details in resort and if their marketing includes a call to action to the agent.

There were 33 partners who achieved the maximum of 4 ticks, 43 achieved three ticks and 31 achieved two ticks. Compared to last year, nine partners gained three extra ticks, 15 business partners gained two extra ticks, 15 gained one extra tick; a further 41 partners had no change in the number of agent friendly ticks.

Of those partners who discount on direct sales to the consumer, 43% will price match with the same level of discount and full commission protected; and a further 11% will price match but pay less commission.

Over half (55%) of business partners who mail their customers, include a call to action directing them to book through a travel agent.

Virtually all partners give Advantage members the best commercial terms within the independent sector and for additional support, 59% provide marketing materials that can be overbranded with members’ details and 65% have a trade bookable website. More than half (52%) of partners provide Advantage members with local/national or free phone numbers as alternatives to expensive 087 or 084 numbers for their reservations or agency sales departments.

These alternative numbers are shown against the partners’ details on the Advantage intranet, along with the number of agent friendly ticks they received. Advantage has also conducted its annual business partner survey which revealed the consortium has been working with 60% of its business partners for more than six years reinforcing its commitment to long-term relationships.

Advantage says it performed well in comparison to business partners’ relationships with other retailers, being rated as ‘of the same value’ or ‘more valuable’ than all other consortia or retail groups.

The majority of business partners (57%) felt their relationship with Advantage had strengthened over the last year and 80% see ‘a bright future’ for the ongoing relationship.

Only 25% foresee the internet as dominating all travel bookings in the next three years, whereas 60% think the independent travel agent will become more important to customers due to their expertise and levels of service.

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