The value of joining a travel agent consortium
- 25 Feb 2021
- Kelly Cookes
The world as we know it has changed in many ways because of the pandemic, but when restrictions are lifted and borders opened, travellers will want to become the great explorers again. With a new travel landscape, I think it is likely that consumers will require the knowledge and guidance of their trusted travel agent – and many agents may look to lean on the support that a consortium can provide, to help elevate their business through the group’s collective knowledge and the tools available to them.
Consortiums have access to technology, marketing, and training programmes to provide education to its members. By working closely with other industry bodies, they can also form alliances to ensure that the travel agents’ voice is heard – and as we have seen throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, this has never been so important. A strong network will help travel agents support their clients in a post-Covid world, but it’s important for agents to choose the right consortium for them. Here are my top tips of what to consider when choosing a consortium:
- Look at how the business is operated. Is it part of a larger PLC, member-owned or independently owned? Be clear on what that group’s strategy is and how a partnership with them would work to ensure it aligns with your business’ goals and needs.
- Investigate each of the different models that the organisation offers and check if there is a broad enough range. Your business may evolve over time and need a different offering in the future, so it is beneficial to understand the full picture on what is available.
- Review the type of model you’re considering in detail. If you are looking at a model that involves a trust account, be sure to find out what monies are contributed into the account and how it is run. For example, Advantage Managed Services (AMS) ensures that all pipeline monies are protected in a trust account, but this can differ between consortiums.
- Look at the breadth of the commercial offering and the consortium’s negotiated terms with its key partners to see how this will benefit your business. Do they offer an incentive programme and tactical opportunities to help you encourage enquiries and drive bookings?
- Marketing is key. Have a look at the collateral that is produced for members and assess what is included in the membership and where there may be an additional fee. Does the marketing collateral work for your different marketing channels? Consider external factors too, for example, the pandemic has meant there has been a shift towards digital and social media marketing.
- Do they offer the right tools and incentives to suit your area of expertise? For example, at Advantage we have our ‘Cruise Champs’ community to help agents enhance their knowledge in cruising, whilst also benefiting from specific marketing and commercial opportunities such as the Cruise Guide and dedicated cruise videos for clients.
- What support does the consortium offer its members? This could include things such as events, business development managers and specialist services. Think about how this can all help to support you to achieve your business goals.
- Speak to a third party – supplier partners and other members as they will give you a real insight into what it is like to work with that organisation.
- Look at the other organisations that the consortium works closely with such as ABTA, CLIA, CAA etc. It will always be beneficial to have strong links with other industry bodies, especially during times of crisis.
If you would like to find out more about Advantage and becoming a member, please contact us here.
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