Three Questions with James Filsinger, President & CEO of Yapta

by Richard D’Ambrosio
Three Questions with James Filsinger, President & CEO of Yapta

 

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
Daily Top List

Oldest Airlines Still Operating

1. KLM

2. Qantas

3. Delta

4. Avianca

5. Egypt Air

Source: World Atlas

TMR THIS WEEK
http://services.travelsavers.com/AMGService.svc/REST/GetImage?ImageID=790331bd-ff88-e811-853f-782bcb667b27

Artificial Intelligence is the Future the Jetsons Told Us About

Customer loyalty is the ultimate reward for travel agents who tap into artificial intelligence. While still early in its application to travel, many companies are quickly realizing the need to implement AI to improve their travel customer service and trip planning.

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
New Zealand Announces New Tourist Tax
New Zealand Announces New Tourist Tax

The tax will be implemented starting in mid-2019.

New York City Council Rules Airbnb Must Disclose Host Information
New York City Council Rules Airbnb Must Disclose Host Information

The ongoing battle between the home-sharing service and the city took another turn. 

EU Says Airbnb Not in Compliance with Consumer Regulations
EU Says Airbnb Not in Compliance with Consumer Regulations

Airbnb has until the end of August to propose changes to make its terms and conditions fairer and easier to understand.

Once Again, Mexico’s San Miguel de Allende Tops Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best List
Once Again, Mexico’s San Miguel de Allende Tops Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best List

Several perennial favorites made the list, but Mexico notably took three of the top 15 spots for the world's best cities.

Perillo Tours to Launch 360 Video Travel Agent Campaign
Perillo Tours to Launch 360 Video Travel Agent Campaign

Virtual reality is gearing up to create vast changes in our culture and entertainment, including the way travel agents sell and the way consumers research travel.

Intrepid Travel to Launch New Backpacking Alternative Tour Brand
Intrepid Travel to Launch New Backpacking Alternative Tour Brand

Tour operator’s sister company, Geckos Adventures, has been absorbed in a strategic move to offer 'stress-free' and a sustainable, affordable alternative to backpacking.

News Briefs
TMR Report Cards
Advertiser's Voice
Advertiser's Voice: Norwegian Cruise Line