Travel Agents Respond to Marriott's Claim that Agency Channel Has Declined

by Cheryl Rosen
Travel Agents Respond to Marriott's Claim that Agency Channel Has Declined

Photo: WDnet Creation / Shutterstock.com


Travel agents are up in arms about a recent comment by Marriott International's President and CEO Arne Sorenson, who said that Marriott has “seen significant growth in all digital channels … What has declined a bit would be travel agents, in part because people are moving online and doing things themselves.”

Agents who spoke to Travel Market Report say Marriott is reaping the fallout from its own policies, which have disrespected travel agents in favor of direct bookings from consumers.

“Marriott is probably seeing a decline in bookings from travel agents because they have been the first to cut commissions and do everything possible to cut us out. Because of this, they are never the first option I offer clients,” said Susanne Yonts, Certified Travel Consultant at Any Seasons Travel in Odessa, Texas.

“Also, I rarely if ever book hotels direct," she added. "There is a lack of trust that hotels will actually pay commission if we book direct. By booking with a tour operator, we know we are going to get paid and we know we have backup if anything goes wrong. Unless they are getting reports about individual agencies from the tour operators, they will never know if we are booking or not.”

Sara Locke at Vacationisms Worldwide Travel in Bedford, New Hampshire, agreed: “I would dispute the online landscape causing a decline in travel agent bookings with Marriott and instead argue that it has more to do with Marriott's unfriendly agent policies and procedures, and rather transparent disrespect to the profession as of late. Most of my clients, right now, are Millennials learning the benefits of a personalized and value-driven experience, along with Gen Xers who have boomeranged back as they find that being bombarded with information online costs more time and energy.”

Shelly Phillips, owner of Travel By That Girl in McCalla, Alabama, said: “I booked a lot of Marriott for corporate clients in the past, but now we can’t put in our clients’ rewards numbers online; you have to call them. I’ve heard it’s a glitch in software, that they’re correcting it on their TA portal, but finally a rep told me they’re discouraging agents to book and get the member-direct rate. They are not supportive of agents.”

Canadian travel agent, Mary Lynn Villeneuve, of TravelOnly in Brockville, Ontario, commented: “As a travel agent and a consumer, I have always been a supporter of Marriott. When I first started in this business 12 years ago, they were also a strong proponent of the travel agent community. What I don’t understand is why would they be surprised by the decline in travel agent bookings after they launched their digital campaign 'it pays to book direct' to consumers in 2015. What did they expect to happen?”

In short, said another agent, “The fact that this guy is so arrogant, enough to think that the decline is because more people are doing it themselves online, just really irritates me (I'm being nice). Just who does he think he is? I think the decline is because we are not offering his product. It's happened before with CCL and Renaissance Cruises.”

In the end, said Charlotte Graham of Travel by Charlotte in Schererville, Indiana: “Travel agents’ numbers are declining, but only with your brand. Cutting our commissions, changing our IATA's once booked so that we can't claim our commission, fighting to get our commission or having our clients be told to book direct for better rates, does not make you a business that travel agents wish to align with. So, of course you think the numbers are down. But ask your counterparts, those that back travel agents up and don't try to get their clients, brands that state in their marketing, 'contact your travel agent.' They'll tell you that travel agents are a very big part of their business!”

  22
  0
Tip of the Day
Daily Top List

Best Things to Do in Sheffield, UK

1. Holly Hagg

2. Will4Adventure

3. Crucible Theatre

4. Rivelin Valley Nature Reserve

Source: TripAdvisor

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
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.

Walt Disney World Holiday Offerings Travel Agents Should Know About
Walt Disney World Holiday Offerings Travel Agents Should Know About

Beginning Nov. 8, visitors will be able to celebrate with festive parties, special holiday décor and treats, and various entertainment.

Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan Is the Top Hotel in the World
Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan Is the Top Hotel in the World

The resort was named by Travel + Leisure as one of the properties to keep in mind when making recommendations to sophisticated, world travelers.

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