Three Questions with James Filsinger, President & CEO of Yapta

by Richard D’Ambrosio

 

We’ve watched consumers growing closer to vendors like hotel chains and airlines through their loyalty programs. Do you see this trend accelerating?
JF: There’s no doubt suppliers want to have a one-to-one relationship with their traveler customers, and try to build and improve that through special offers and incentives (e.g., free Wi-Fi, room selection, etc.). The difficulty they face, at least in the corporate-travel arena, is first and foremost the business-travel relationship is between the hotel and the company…not the traveler. Hotels need to ensure they don’t irritate the company and drive business to the hotel “just around the corner.”

Another frustrating component of this approach is hoteliers’ unwillingness to see the value of the GDS and OTA distribution channels. These channels bring significant sales volume to hotels, and there’s real value there. Hotels say these channels are too costly, but there’s downstream support and customer engagement costs with direct bookings that must be factored into the equation when comparing channel costs. I do see hotels continuing to try to drive direct bookings, but they’ve tried in the past with limited success. That doesn’t mean they won’t be successful this time, but it will be a slow, incremental shift as opposed to an overnight swing.

Smaller travel agencies don't have all of the sophisticated technology that larger TMCs do. Are they at greater risk to seeing themselves disintermediated from hotel bookings?
JF: Technology is an integral part of the travel ecosystem, and agencies of all sizes should embrace best-in-class solutions to provide value-add services to their clientele. Larger agencies tend to have the resources to implement and integrate technology across the life cycle of the trip to ensure they provide quality services. Smaller agencies, with relatively limited resources, tend to need to prioritize and focus on particular aspects of travel fulfillment.

If they don’t effectively prioritize for changes in their distribution approach, they do risk being disintermediated. That said, there are solutions, such as airfare and hotel price tracking from Yapta, that enable even smaller agencies to provide a valuable service by ensuring their customers travel for the lowest cost. It’s a way to ensure customers don’t look elsewhere or try to book direct to get the lowest price, because solutions like Yalta’s ensure that happens via the agency.

What can smaller travel agencies do to mitigate this activity?
JF: As an example, using automated price-tracking technology can enable even smaller agencies to see shifts in pricing, and provide them with greater context for the rates from suppliers and how those suppliers are performing versus current spot-market pricing. That data insight can prove invaluable to their customers.

  1
  0
Tip of the Day

Something could happen to any of us, the loved ones we travel with, or in this case, to the magnificent marvels put up by those who came before us. So we must travel as far and as often as time and money allow.


Stefanie Katz, The Travel Superhero

Daily Top List

Five Good Reasons to Tell Your Clients About Loyalty Programs

1. Saves money for your clients.

2. Saves time for your corporate clients.

3. Gets all sorts of perks for your clients.

4. Offers enhanced reporting to corporate clients.

5. Provides better service and better client relationships.

Source: TMR.

TMR THIS WEEK
http://services.travelsavers.com/AMGService.svc/REST/GetImage?ImageID=b75eceda-865f-e911-b4aa-782bcb66a2f2

5 Good Reasons to Tell Your Clients About Travel Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs, also known as frequent buyer programs, have been around for a long time. But you might be surprised to know that many travelers don’t know about them. Here are five good reasons for travel advisors to spread the word to their customers, both leisure and corporate travelers.

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
Tour Operators Frustrated by Vague Cuba Policy Announcement
Tour Operators Frustrated by Vague Cuba Policy Announcement

Little is known about what the new Trump administration policy changes will mean for American travelers to Cuba.

New Apple Vacations President John Tarkowski is Setting His Course
New Apple Vacations President John Tarkowski is Setting His Course

The wholesaler’s challenges, says Tarkowski, are the same as those that face the retail travel advisor.

Avanti Launches Educational E-Brochure for Travel Advisors Selling the Galapagos
Avanti Launches Educational E-Brochure for Travel Advisors Selling the Galapagos

Cruises are the most popular method to get around the Galapagos islands, which the tour operator says is one of its top three destinations in South America.

Central Holidays Rolls Out Small Group Tours
Central Holidays Rolls Out Small Group Tours

The new, more intimate tours are being introduced in the company’s original home destination of Italy.

Intrepid Sails to Significant Growth on Wave of Sustainable Tourism
Intrepid Sails to Significant Growth on Wave of Sustainable Tourism

The adventure travel provider is seeing bottom line gains resulting from its dedication to practices of responsible tourism.

Abercrombie & Kent Adds New Luxury Expedition Cruise in the Baltics
Abercrombie & Kent Adds New Luxury Expedition Cruise in the Baltics

The tour operator’s Luxury Tailor Made trips begin with prepared itineraries that are designed to be a starting point from which customers build the trip of their dreams.

News Briefs
TMR Report Cards & Outlooks
Advertiser's Voice
Advertiser's Voice: Tropics and Exotics 2020 -2021 Collection