Travelport survey looks at agents and ancillary services

A new survey on global airline merchandising by Travelport indicates that there is “strong support amongst travel agencies to assist airlines in selling ancillary services through the GDS.” The Travelport survey also highlights the challenges travel agents face in the selling of these services, amid their own pressures to grow revenues, reduce costs and increase productivity. With the unbundling of fares and services in recent years, ancillary products, such as checked baggage, meals, lounge passes and upgrades, have grown dramatically. In the newly released survey, agency respondents were asked to specify how this change has impacted their businesses. Travelport found that the top impacts included confusion around what services were offered by each airline, productivity and the need to offer these services to remain a full-service agency. Only 16% of respondents saw unbundling as an opportunity to charge or increase fees and 44% of respondents said they did not impose additional charges for booking optional services. Travelport also found that agencies would be more interested in selling optional services if the process was more efficient. Survey respondents indicated that booking optional services currently required approximately 29% more time. Presently some services are available through the GDS while others are sold via airline web sites or by phone. The findings indicated a strong demand for a single aggregated source of information and sales capability and the GDS was listed as the most preferred channel to book and sell optional services by 70% of respondents. As well, the GDS ranked highly with agents when asked if they were interested in having the GDS assist them in accommodating the offering of unbundled services, with 84% of respondents saying it would be a considerable benefit. The top two reasons cited were time savings and improved service for customer. The survey also reported that the majority of agencies (77%) are currently booking additional services for their customers compared to just 8% of agencies who said they didn’t offer these services. Reasons cited for not offering these services varied, with agents in Europe reporting that “it doesn’t generate any additional revenues” (41%), whereas in the Americas, 33 percent of agents said “most services are not available for agency booking.” Respondents were also asked to define the value they place on having branded fares available for sale via the GDS. Branded fares are fares that are bundled together with optional services, such as preferred seat assignments and checked baggage fee. Agents indicated that branded fares would enable them to offer a full service to clients, as well as allow them to stay competitive with airline websites. Fergal Kelly, vice-president, content for Travelport commented: “This research offers valuable insights on how travel agencies view and sell airline ancillary services. Agents understand that as the airline product continues to evolve and ancillaries form an increasingly significant role in the purchase decision and buying process, travel customers continue to look to agents to support them in purchasing itinerary solutions,” Go to for more.