How Agents Recover when Suppliers Go Down
It no secret that there are a lot of agents hurting financially and by reputation right now.
Thomas Cook were regarded as too big to fail. They went down releasing over $1.5 billion worth of debt into the wild. With offices in the UK, STUBA saw what happened. Sadly, it’s just happened in Australia, with the pain of tens of millions of dollars worth debt being shouldered by travel agents
Many are angry, venting, hurting both financially and by reputation. As we assist hundreds of agents in finding alternative accommodation options, we have some suggestions to make rectifying the situation as easy as possible.
There’s been a lot of anger directed towards ex-excite sales managers and BDM’s over the past two weeks. It would seem they were as unaware as you. As a travel agent you may have lost money, but these people just lost their livelihood. They still have meals to prepare and mortgages to pay.
If there is anger to be directed, it shouldn’t be directed at them.
Hotels are mitigating their loss whilst trying to reliably fill the rooms. The expectation that they should reissue a room for free is unfortunately highly unlikely.In some cases bookings are still live, within payment cancellation timelines, but with no one to confirm who the booking was made through and which bookings need to be cancelled. Some rooms were sold for a price lower than they were bought for; this is adding to the confusion and making it harder for thousands of travel agents to rebook accommodation and keep their customers happy.
Don’t get angry; someone else will book the room
How to recover
Having managed hundreds of queries in recent days, and assisting with thousands of bookings when Thomas Cook went down, STUBA advises:
- have your information lined up, easy to follow and well-documented
- keep emotion out of it – it’s tough, but its time to act
- if re-booking a property, make sure the new accommodation wholesaler is aware, and provide them all of the historical booking details, so they can do the legwork for you
- ask for reconfirmation and the hotel confirmation number
- ensure the hotel and your new wholesaler can confirm there are no dupes that are going to cause issues later
There were a lot of industry players who saw the writing on the wall, but the timing, the speed how it unfolded into $35M of debt was pretty staggering.
Word on the street? It started falling apart when the local ATAS accreditation was lost. That should be the first hint; companies withdraw or lose accreditation for a reason.
Ensure you know the provenance of the supply chain of your suppliers. Do your homework, build trusted relationships and leverage them beyond saving a dollar here and the dollar there.
Finally, build that into your marketing story, let your customers know you are not Trivago, and that you are reputable, accredited, solid and reliable.
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