“Don’t ignore travel agents!” declared Hamish Broom, managing director of airline distribution for the EMEA division of Sabre Travel Network.
“Low cost carriers have to have a balanced strategy of where they distribute – to have a single isolated approach will be to their ultimate detriment,” he said in an address to the Low Cost Airlines Conference in Dubai last month.
Direct and indirect strategies were both vital, as substantiated by research carried out by Sabre Travel Network. This revealed that about 70 per cent of all leisure travel was booked through direct channels (i.e websites), and although this may seem good news for low cost carriers, about 90 per cent of business travel is still booked through travel agencies.
“If they (low cost carriers) are going to rely totally on their website they are going to miss out on getting high-yielding business travellers and also are going to be missing out against their competitors who may have made the decision to distribute both indirectly and directly.
“Another thing that our research has shown is that the bargain hunter and the premium paying passenger is ironically the same person – it is the reason for travel that dictates where you buy and how much you are prepared to pay.”
Sabre Travel Network, a Sabre Holdings company, provides numerous solutions to the industry for corporate and leisure travel. The Sabre GDS is the foundation for these solutions, providing a ready-built system that connects travel suppliers, airlines and hotels, with more than 50,000 travel agency locations.
Key brands of the company include the GetThere online corporate travel booking tool and the TRAMS mid- and back-office solution and marketing service for travel agencies.
Sabre Travel Network works with sister company Sabre Airline Solutions, a large provider of products to help airlines to operate more effectively, from planning to execution.
The combined portfolio of marketing, sales, distribution, operational and decision-support technology is unique, and of huge value to airlines all over the world.
By Cheryl Mandy