Credit Card

Travel agents beware: be vigilant with payment transactions!

Travel agents should remember to always be vigilant with credit card transactions as fraud continues to be rife in the travel industry.

Here are some reminders of the most important Credit Card must-dos:

  1. Never process payments on a credit card without having the card/s present at the time of the transaction
  2. Check signature against original card/s
  3. Obtain required authorisation
  4. Take an imprint of the card – A FAX COPY IS NOT AN IMPRINT
  5. Ensure validity of expiry date and check that security features appear on the card
  6. Please be warned: Any invalid expiry dates entered for approval through one of the Global Reservations Systems that results in a fraudulent transaction, will be charged back to the agency
  7. A great way to check whether the card is valid is to check the issuing bank of the card on

And remember, authorisation alone is not enough

Although travel agents should always obtain an authorisation code for a credit card transaction, this code only indicates that the cardholder is in good standing with the bank (and is usually supplied automatically) but is no guarantee of payment.

It simply verifies that there are sufficient funds in the account. It can’t confirm the identity of the cardholder, or guarantee that the card and/or transaction are genuine

Having said that, travel agents should always get an imprint of the credit card as well as obtain an authorisation number. Failing to do so will result in charge backs and the travel agent will then be liable to settle the loss due to fraudulent transactions.

If in doubt, run a Mod 10 check!

The Mod 10 algorithm was designed to validate a variety of identification numbers, and can be used to verify credit card numbers before submitting transactions for authorization.

The Mod 10 algorithm detects all single-digit errors, as well as almost all transpositions of adjacent digits.

To implement the algorithm in your fraud prevention system:

  • Contact your processor and ask for the Mod 10 algorithm that lets you check the validity of a card number.
  • Use the Mod 10 algorithm to check all e-commerce transactions before submitting them for authorisation.
  • Immediately notify your customer if the card fails to pass the Mod 10 check. Display the following message on the customer’s screen “The card number you entered is invalid. Please try again.” or a similar message.
  • Do not submit the transaction for authorisation until the card number passes the Mod 10 check.

Using the Mod 10 algorithm for checking the validity of your customers’ card numbers will help protect your business against fraud or an error on the part of the cardholder and minimise related disputes and losses.


Watch out for scams!

A scam e-mail requesting travel agents to submit tenders for UNICEF has been circulating.

The full contents of the suspected fraudulent (phishing / scamming) e-mail appear below:

Dear All,

As part of its activities, UNICEF regularly uses travel agency services. You will find attached the call for tender that we are launching for the current year. Thank you for your interest and to let us know your interest so that we can send you the terms and conditions.

PS: Thank you for answering us by e-mail to the address mentioning the reference of thé [sic] tender (RFU/001/2017/0010) in the subject of your message.


Gary Lewis

Purchasing and Logistics

Head of Accounting Department

UNICEF Regional Office


Very often in tender scams, fraudsters publish a fake tender advert and require a non-refundable document fee which is to be deposited into the fraudsters’ bank account. They may even provide suppliers with a complex document.

It is important for travel agents to remain cautious at all times, especially when receiving tender opportunities. Always remember to be realistic about tenders and err on the side of caution by double checking the credentials of the sender.

The golden rule: if it is too good to be true it probably is. 

Know your customers and industry. Receiving a fresh requirement out of the blue may seem appealing but needs to always be double-checked.

Scammers often pretend to be someone you trust, like a government official, a charity, or a company you do business with. Don’t send money or give out personal information in response to an unexpected request — whether it comes as a text, a phone call, or an email.

Be on the lookout for suspicious banking details.

Red flags should go up if the banking details are in a private name and not company name.

Check e-mail addresses

Make sure your name isn’t in the “To” line. If it’s not, the email has likely been sent to thousands of people. Also check the sender’s email address: it might have a familiar company or government organization that is misspelled

Verify physical addresses

Always verify that the request to tender has proper contact details, such as a landline number and a physical address. Check that the physical address corresponds with the company’s actual address.

Always call

To be safe, call the company directly to check the validity of their e-mail. After all, businesses should not request personal information to be sent via email. Do not use the phone number on the email. Rather look up the company’s details online.

Check the URL without clicking on it

Check whether the URL is a fake. Hover over the “click here” or “take action now” link with your mouse. If you see a strange URL instead of a legitimate company website, don’t click.

Do online searches.

Type a company or product name into your favorite search engine with words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” Or search for a phrase that describes your situation, like “UNESCO Tender”. You can even search for phone numbers to see if other people have reported them as scams.

Call of tender UNICEF


Safety advice: a liability issue for travel agents?

Terror alerts, disease and catastrophes continue to plague the world. How much negative information are you supposed to share with your clients? And, if you fail to share this information, are you legally responsible if something goes wrong?


In South Africa, travel agents are legally obliged to divulge certain information to their clients, according to Advocate Louis Nel. He told ASATA that it’s not impossible for a travel agent to be sued for negligence if they fail to share important information.


Nel warns: “Mainly, the travel agent owes passengers a duty of care and such duty of care includes any dangers that the travel agent should be aware of. In the case of a breach of that duty, liability may well arise.”


According to Nel, the Consumer Protection Act also places a distinct obligation to disclose all the dangers, as well as any unusual threats at a destination, to passengers. “This disclosure must take place as early as possible. This means at the time of making enquiries, and not once the booking has been confirmed,” he says.


This topic was recently also raised in Travel Weekly, where US industry lawyer Mark Pestronk explained that in general, agents “should warn about a destination danger that your agency knew about or should have known about but the client would not ordinarily have known about.”


Lawyer Rose A. Hache added it would be safe to adopt the following standard of what to share with clients: “What would a reasonably prudent businessperson in the travel agency industry know?”. She said: “You can be enthusiastic about a particular destination, but if you know something that you would want to know prior to visiting a destination, I would share it.”


That range of knowledge extends to travel industry-specific knowledge, for example, a supplier’s probable insolvency or the spread of a tropical disease in a particular region. Things like that should be disclosed.


Some practical steps, such as including disclaimers on your agency website and requiring clients to sign a contract with disclaimers, can help protect travel agents in the case legal issues crop up.


The best way for travel agents to share potential dangers or destination issues with their clients is in writing. Says Nel: “It is best to make sure that the traveller briefing is very comprehensive, that all the terms and conditions as well as indemnity are discussed and that everything is signed.”

Travel agents should also have clear disclaimers on their websites. Nel explains: “This can be a combination of comprehensive terms and conditions as well as an indemnity. The latter is especially important for adventure tourism. This should go hand in hand with the traveller briefing and insurance.”


Default Insurance Programme (DIP) scheme for BSP Southern Africa

Default Insurance Programme (DIP) scheme for BSP Southern Africa (The Republic of South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland) 

Frequently Asked Questions


  1. What is a DIP?

A Default Insurance Programme is an insurance policy that covers multiple declared agents with a maximum coverage for all agents as defined in the policy. The DIP Provider is an independent third party entity other than a bank that guarantees payment to Members or Airlines through the policy in the event of a payment default by an agent.

  1. Can any Insurance Company offer the DIP in the market?

IATA has established criteria for consistent evaluation and approval of providers and provider products.  No provider or provider products will be accepted for the purpose of an Agent meeting the Local Financial Criteria (LFC) unless such Provider or Provider Product has been approved by IATA in accordance to Resolution 850p.

IATA will conduct an annual review of the provider and product to ensure continued adherence of the current requirements.

  1. Who is the approved Provider of the DIP in BSP ZA?


Lloyd’s of London

DIP Local Representative:

Jack & Seach (Pty) Ltd – Jack & Seach Insurance Brokers are a Licensed Financial Service Provider 8260.

  1. Who can join the DIP scheme?

Any active Accredited Travel Agent participating in the BSP Southern Africa (The Republic of South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland) can apply to join the DIP scheme. The insurance company as a third party has specific requirements for acceptance / rejection of an Agents application subject to compliance with the insurance terms and conditions.

  1. How do I apply to join the DIP scheme?

You need to contact:

Mrs C. Brogden on 011 658 1676 or of Jack and Seach Brokers (Pty) Limited

  1. How will the Premiums be billed and collected?

The premiums will be collected by the Insurance Company, please contact the Insurance Company for all details related to premiums collection and billing.

IATA will provide Jack & Seach with the monthly cash ticket sales.  These figures will be available to Jack & Seach by no later than the 10th of the new month.

Jack & Seach do not have direct access to any BSP information.

  1. What would IATA require from me should I Join the scheme?

Jack & Seach will provide IATA with a Membership Certificate once the Agency’s cover is approved under DIP scheme in order to update our records and confirm fulfilment of the requirement for submission of Financial Security.

  1. What should I do if I wish to stop using the DIP and revert back to a Bank Guarantee?

You need to raise a query through the IATA Customer Service Portal ( to indicate your wish to replace the DIP with a Bank Guarantee. This will also include the confirmation of IATA requirement of the Financial Security amount requested.

The Hub will confirm the required amount of Financial Security as per the Local Financial Criteria.  Once the hub receives the original Bank Guarantee, we will update the records on the system and we will send a notification to the DIP provider confirming the agents’ decision of suspension of using the DIP in order to stop the premium collection.

  1. What is the difference between the DIP and Bank Guarantee?

A Default Insurance Programme means one insurance policy to cover multiple declared agents with a maximum coverage for all agents as defined in the policy.

A Bank Guarantee means a guarantee issued by a bank ensuring that the liabilities of the agent will be met in case of a default; limit sum (BG amount) defined.

The agent has a choice between the approved two types of Financial Security currently available in BSP Southern Africa.

  1. Can I provide IATA with two different types of Financial Security (DIP and Bank Guarantee)?

IATA will send you the total amount of the required Financial Security as per the published Local Financial Criteria.

Agents have the option to provide a DIP, or a Bank Guarantee, or a combination of both – subject to ensuring that the total amount of the provided Financial Security covers the Financial Security required by IATA.

  1. What is the cost of the DIP?

The DIP cost is R11,00 per cash ticket sold (cash/EFT/Debit Card).  The DIP does not cover credit card sales.  The DIP does not attract VAT.

  1. What is the benefit of the DIP?

The main benefit is that without a bank guarantee your balance sheet is not encumbered.  The bank guarantee will be held indefinitely with IATA, whereas the aim of the DIP is to do away with bank guarantees entirely based on the success of the scheme.

  1. How does the Agent recover the cost of the DIP?

The Agent passes the cost of the DIP to his client at R11,00 per cash ticket sold.  The Agent cannot process it on as a premium payment but as an admin cost.

  1. How long does it take to join the DIP

The Agent completes the application form and emails it to

The information is sent to IATA for verification.  Once verification confirmed the Agent will receive a Membership Certificate from Jack & Seach confirming Agent’s membership.  Jack & Seach will notify IATA of Agent’s membership.

  1. Why is there mention of a renewal date of 1 October in the Membership Certificate?

IATA is the Insured of the Lloyd’s Policy and not the Agent.  October is the renewal date of the policy between IATA and Lloyds. This is purely administrative and has no impact on the Agent.

  1. Why must the Agent carry a Bank Guarantee and DIP?

In the case where the Bank Guarantee value exceeds the ZAR 5M cover, IATA will request the balance to be carried in the form of a bank guarantee.

  1. What are the Lloyds Registration details?

BRIT is the Underwriter who forms part of the Lloyd’s Syndicate.  Lloyds is not a registered company but a syndicate of companies.

  1. Is the Lloyds Bank Guarantee an international guarantee?

Harrison’s Attorneys was appointed as the local custodian of the bank guarantee.  The bank guarantee will be paid out in South Africa in ZAR.  There is no foreign payment made.

  1. Who is the beneficiary of the Bank Guarantee?

Brit Lloyd’s Syndicate No. 2987 is the beneficiary of the bank guarantee.  This is a replacement / performance guarantee which replace the previous guarantee held in favour of IATA.

  1. Is “special wording” needed for the application of the Bank Guarantee?

We have templates available to assist the bank with the drawing up of the bank guarantee.

  1. What is the time frame of the Bank Guarantee?

The bank needs to validate the guarantee for a 12 month period.

  1. What happens after 12 months?

The idea of the DIP is to do away with the bank guarantee entirely.  However, the performance of the scheme is very much dependent on the success of the first year and the build-up of funds in the scheme.  The scheme will be reviewed by the Underwriter after 12 months.

  1. Do we replace our current Bank Guarantee with the DIP

No, all bank guarantees already in place will need to remain in place with the exception of the change of beneficiary to Brit Lloyd’s Syndicate No. 2987.

  1. How does the DIP work?

The DIP in an insurance put in place by IATA to protect itself from any form of default by the Travel Agent.  The Agent pays the premium based on the amount of cash tickets sold. The Agency will be covered for R5,000,000.00.

  1. What are the Travel Agents options with choosing the DIP scheme as their financial security type

There are 2 options available to the Agent in the form of a bank guarantee and/or DIP insurance.

  1. If the travel agent does not already have an existing Bank Guarantee how does one get approval to join the DIP scheme?

Complete the application form by emailing

  1. What are the requirements & details needed from the travel agent to join the DIP?

The Agent must be an accredited IATA agent currently active on the BSP ZA.

  1. Will there be a quotation given to the travel agent to cover financial security?

The cost is R11,00 per cash ticket sold.  IATA will provide Jack and Seach with the monthly cash ticket figures.

  1. What happens to the current Bank Guarantee in place if agent joins the DIP scheme? 

Once the Agent is confirmed on the DIP scheme, IATA will release the bank guarantee back to the Agent.  The Agent must return the bank guarantee to the bank and ask for a replacement guarantee in favour of Brit Lloyd’s Syndicate No. 2987.

  1. If the travel agent signs up for the DIP programme, will they be invoiced and debited at the end of each month an amount of R11 excl VAT per cash air ticket issued on their BSP, and any existing guarantee that IATA has will remain in force for the first year 2016. 

The bank guarantee must be re-issued in favour of Brit Lloyd’s syndicate No. 2987

  1. Should the DIP be successful after the first year and a suitable fund be established for the ZA BSP area, then the DIP will likely continue and take the place of IATA guarantees completely.


TBCSA tackles ORTIA airport queues

The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) has compiled a number of recommendations to address the issue of airport queues as a result of the implementation of the Amended Immigration Regulations.

To ease the congestion at airports, especially at OR Tambo International Airport, in the short term, the TBCSA recommends the creation of a positive and welcoming ambiance at immigration zones.  This could be through the use of ushers (thus employing young people to welcome tourists) to help direct the visitors to the correct immigration queues; to provide them with refreshments such as water; and also with relevant information pertaining to their visit and destination to South Africa.

The TBCSA further also suggests the setting-up of video infotainment and entertainment; and having kiosks where tourists can buy snacks and other beverages whilst waiting in queues.

The TBCSA and SA Tourism have offered to cover the financial costs of the provision of ushers through the Welcome Campaign programme and also to assist in securing sponsors and/or partners to provide the suggested refreshments (water) if needed.

Furthermore, the Council proposes the adoption of a system that was used during the 2010 Soccer World Cup, where airport immigration services enlisted SAPS assistance.  The idea is that immigration officials who currently work in the departure section (emigration zones) could be moved to the arrivals section (immigration zone), thus increasing the staff capacity in the arrivals section and alleviating congestion.

In the medium to long-term TBCSA urges the DHA to work speedily with National Treasury, Public Service and Administration and Tourism to resolve the procedural and budget issues pertaining to allocation of personnel.

TBCSA’s recommendations were presented during a meeting of the National Tourism Minister with Captains of Industry on the 9th of November 2016.

All you need to know about BSP

Does BSP still have you baffled? ASATA has compiled a short document with everything you need to know, from what BSP is exactly, to how it works and BSPLink. 

What is BSP?

  • Global system
  • Facilitates and simplifies the selling, reporting and remitting procedures of IATA Accredited Passenger Sales Agents
  • Improves financial control and cash flow for BSP Airlines
  • In 2015, IATA’s BSP processed $230.3 billion. 

How it works?

The central point through which data and funds flow between travel agents and airlines.

Agents make one single payment to the BSP (remittance), covering sales on all BSP Airlines. The BSP makes one consolidated payment to each airline, covering sales made by all agents in the country/region.

  1. Preparation to sell on behalf of airlines

Before an agent can begin selling on behalf of airlines, the following must take place:

  • A range of electronic ticket numbers are assigned to the Agent.
  • The Airline assigns ticketing authority to the Agent to allow issue of ETs.
  • Agents need to have access to an IATA-approved ticketing system such as a Global Distribution System (GDS).
  1. Reporting by Agents

The agent reports all sales and refunds at the end of the reporting period. This is done electronically, through BSPlink. All transactions are forwarded to a central BSP Data Processing Centre (DPC).

  1. Processing by BSP

The Data Processing Centre:

  • Captures the tickets and refunds information from data files that have been transmitted by the GDS/ticketing system or other automated system such as BSPlink.
  • Processes all relevant data and produce an “Agents Billing Analysis” for each agent. This analysis is compiled from the information of one or more reporting periods.
  • Forwards a statement of sales made by Agents to each BSP Airline. This statement is compiled from the information of one or more reporting periods.
  • Monitors ET ranges and provide replenishment as necessary.
  1. Payment

The Agent makes just one net remittance covering all its BSP transactions for that period for all BSP Airlines. The BSP preferred method of payment is by direct debit.

  1. Follow up by Airlines

The accounting department of each airline audits incoming data and addresses debit/credit accounting memoranda (ADM/ACM) to agents as necessary.

BSP Link

IATA provides services for the settlement of financial transactions between travel agents and the airlines. This service consolidates the amounts owed by each agent and the amounts due to each airline and enables the settlement to be made through one single financial transfer for each participant.

BSP link is an innovative, internet-based system, which facilitates these interactions and exchanges of information between all participants in the Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP).


  • Easier and faster access to ticketing information, no longer do you have to wait for the distribution of paper outputs.  All the information you need is available 24 hours a day in your office
  • Less filing, all the information you need is electronically stored
  • Reduced printing and mailing costs, transactions are conducted over the internet
  • Less opportunity for errors, automated processes reduce manual errors
  • Easy access to reference data, through electronic document search.
visa europe

Changes to Australian visas

The Australian High Commission in South Africa has announced there have been some changes to the Australian visa process in South Africa, including the fact that some visa applications will need to be done online from 19 November onwards.

The High Commission is also in talks with TLSContact to improving services in South Africa by increasing the number of available appointments and enhancing the call centre.

Visa applications move online

As part of its Future Directions for Streamlined Visa Processing, the Australian government has announced it will introduce new visa subclasses for temporary activity from 19 November 2016. Applications for these visas must be lodged online through an individualised immiAccount. No paper temporary activity visa applications will be accepted by TLScontact or the Australian High Commission.

TLScontact will also stop accepting the following applications from close of business on Wednesday 16 November 2016:

Subclass 401 Temporary Work (Long Stay Activity) visa

Subclass 402 Training and Research visa

Subclass 416 Special Program visa

Subclass 420 Temporary Work (Entertainment) visa

Subclass 488 Superyacht Crew visa


Further information regarding the changes can be found at

TLScontact improves service

The Australian High Commission has also advised that it is working with TLScontact to improve the ease of scheduling appointments.

A number of travel agents have reported they have been unable to make appointments at some centres or get through to TLScontact via telephone and email.

The Australian High Commission encourages all applicants and agents to book appointments online via TLScontact have increased the number of appointments available each day at all South African VACs, which has resolved availability issues. Furthermore, TLS have introduced a live operator option on the Call Centre service and is working on reducing wait times.


Please remember Standard Processing Times

The number of visa applications received by the Australian High Commission Pretoria triples during September, October and November as applicants seek to travel during the holiday period.

The current processing times for visitor visas is 30 days. Travel agents should advise their clients not to make non-refundable travel/airline bookings in anticipation of the grant of a visa within this timeframe. The Australian High Commission recommends clients lodge their visa application well ahead of their proposed travel dates and only finalise any travel arrangements after the visa process has been completed.

We are able to expedite visa processing where there is an urgent need to travel due to compassionate or compelling circumstances, please refer to:

visa europe

Lengthy airport queues to cause festive season havoc

Lengthy queues at OR Tambo Airport as a result of the new immigration regulations are expected to cause major havoc during the upcoming December holidays.

The Board of Airline Representatives South Africa (BARSA) has called for urgent intervention and the immediate suspension of biometrics for the duration of the December holidays as the best way forward.

International passengers arriving in South Africa at OR Tambo International Airport now need to submit biometric data as part of new immigration regulations to improve security. However, a shortage in trained immigration officials capable of capturing biometrics is leading to very lengthy delays for both South African and international travellers, even causing them to miss connections

Says June Crawford, BARSA CEO: “The decision by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) not to employ additional immigration staff due to budget constraints will need to be re-assessed before December.

“The DHA has taken the decision to revert to a 12-hour, four-group systems because they can no longer afford transport for their officials.”

June explains that BARSA continues to seek ways through various stakeholders to find a solution to this ongoing problem. “The tourism industry is under duress during the busiest time of the year. In our view, the suspension of biometrics until after the peak season would be a short-term solution allowing for all parties to discuss the best way forward.”

Airlines have also been heavily impacted by the delays at OR Tambo. “In a bid to continue offering high customer service levels, several airlines have offered to pay for their passengers’ overnight accommodation when they’ve missed their connection despite it not being part of their obligations.”

What we are seeing, says June, is that international airlines are arriving in Johannesburg on time, but as a result of the long two- to three-hour queues, passengers are missing their connections and are requesting hotel accommodation from the airline. “From a domestic airline perspective, the fact that passengers are missing their onward connections means the flights depart with empty seats. All these costs are currently being borne by the airlines.”

Airport bottlenecks have also had a detrimental effect on the handling of passengers’ baggage. The flights arrive, bags are placed on the belts and need to be taken off after an hour to make space for the next arriving flight.  “This not only adds costs for the airlines but they also see their service levels deteriorate.”

BARSA, as well as the Tourism Business Council of South Africa and Airports Company of South Africa, are actively engaging with the DHA to find a constructive way forward and resolve the situation before the December holiday crowds peak.

Thailand: what your clients need to know

A call has been made for visitors to Thailand to respect the mourning period in the destination, following the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej on October 13.

While most public services are unaffected, a range of entertainment, sport and cultural events have been cancelled or postponed, and guidelines have been issued on acceptable behaviour.

According to the British Embassy travel advisory, following the official announcement of the death of KingBhumibol Adulyadej there is now an official period of mourning of one year from 14 October 2016.

It states travellers should respect the feelings and sensitivities of the Thai people at this time; access to entertainment, including restaurants, bars, and shopping areas may be restricted and you should behave respectfully when in public areas.

It also advised, if possible, wear sombre and respectful clothing when in public; check local media regularly and follow the advice of the local authorities. Not everyone is required to follow millions of mourning Thais in wearing black, but visitors are nonetheless expected to avoid overly revealing or colourful attire.

On the country’s popular southern beaches, however, normal swimwear is expected to remain acceptable.

A number of entertainment events have been cancelled, including concerts by Morrissey and the Scorpions, and Korean K-pop bands Big Bang, JYP and FT Island.

Dozens of local stage plays and other Thai entertainment also have been called off as have a range of Bangkok arts and music festivals, according to Khaosod, a popular English-language website.

The city’s 14th World Film Festival set for November has been postponed to January 20-29.

A range of religious and cultural festivals around the country also have been suspended.

These include next month’s Loi Krathong festival, in which colourful decorative baskets are released on rivers around the country, and annual buffalo races in southern Chonburi.

All entertainment programming on Thai television has been banned for the next month, but cinemas have reopened following a brief initial shutdown.

Most tourist sites in Thailand including its exquisite Buddhist temples remain open.

Due to funeral rites, however, Bangkok’s gilded Grand Palace, the seat of the royalty, and the sacred Temple of the Emerald Buddha on its grounds are closed to visitors until Friday, 21 October.

Most of Bangkok’s numerous popular open-air markets also are expected to stay in operation but visitors are advised to check locally as some have been reported closed.

The travel agent of the future

The travel agent is here to stay! This is the main message in a recent Skift report that looks into the role of ‘The Travel Agent of the Future’.

Also ASATA has examined the future of the travel agents in South Africa today and in the years to come in its research ‘The 21st Century Travel Agent’ and came up with nine recommendations which you can read here.

The rise of online travel agencies (OTAs) and DIY travel initially led to a dramatic halving of the travel agency workforce, but this decline has now levelled off, according to the Skift Report. The reason? Travel agent have started stepping up to the plate and have adapted to the changing travel industry landscape.

Even though travel search and booking looks completely different today than it did just years ago, the travel agent still has an important role to play as the intersection between high-tech and high-touch is now a key battle ground for travel brands the world over, both Skift and ASATA found. 

How can travel agents leverage personalisation?

The harsh reality is that travellers know how to do most travel transactions online. The good news is that they’ll still turn to their travel agents, but they expect unique experiences tailored to their priorities. They want the travel agent to give them offers built on their preferences.

Today’s travellers expect to be seen as individuals and want to receive information and offers built on their preferences, delivered in a timely manner to the device of their choice. ASATA’s research into the 21st Century Travel Agent shows how the travel agent can adapt to this ‘new’ traveller by becoming more customer-centric and focus on services that meet the customer’s priorities.

Where will revenue be coming from?

For a long time, travel agents have been relying on revenue from travel suppliers in the form of commission and override commission payments. The result was that travel agents focused their business around the requirements of the supplier instead of the customer.

But this has started to change. As suppliers are increasingly withdrawing their commissions, travel agents have indicated they view themselves primarily as representatives of the customer instead of a distribution channel for suppliers. The customer’s interests have also become their main concern. However, travel agents are still struggling to understand how they can monetise additional value they create for the traveller.

The truth is that until travel agents understand their customers’ personal, business and economic contexts as fully as possible, they will be unable to help travellers improve their end-to-end travel experience, help corporate travel buyers make good travel-related business decisions or generate travel-related service fees at appropriate margins.

How will technology be arming travel agents for the future?

Until now, travel agents have responded defensively to the online and mobile technologies. Constrained by their historical physical retail store operating model, travel agents see themselves as being in competition with online travel booking engines and travel service providers for the travel booking transaction. This needs to change.

The Connected Traveller will move from channel to channel, expecting the same offers, prices and service whatever channel they choose. Travel Agents could leverage technology to pursue an ‘omni-channel’ strategy that delivers a personalised, 24/7 experience to the leisure traveller from the start of the travel process to the end.

Technology and mobile communication will allow travel agents to generate additional revenue from new offers that meet the needs of the travellers. Travel agents will also be able to use technology to promote and market their services via social media as well as use technologies to access detailed product and destination information.