For Agents: A Painless Way to Deal with Ancillaries

by Michele McDonald

Travel agents have for several years grappled with how to deal with airlines’ ancillary products. But in the not-too-distant future they, too, will be able play in the ancillary game relatively painlessly.

It’s already happening in Europe.

Epteca, based in Zug, Switzerland, was founded two and a half years ago to bring travel companies and vendors of a wide range of products together in a way that consumers can enjoy rather than dread.

“The airlines have turned ancillary revenues into something bad,” Bojan Jokic, Epteca’s founder and CEO, said.

Ancillary products have become synonymous with fees, “so it’s like a punishment,” he said. “And they’ve taken it to extremes.”

Fees versus service
Travel is a fantastic industry serving billions of people, Jokic said. He thinks the industry ought to do better.

From the consumer’s perspective, bag fees do not add value to a trip, he said.

“Neither does charging a fee so that you can sit next to your wife. It’s a fee, not a service. Nobody’s buying into this as a service.”

But, “if it’s something kind of neat, then they’ll buy into it as a service,” Jokic said.

‘Awesome’ offerings
There are “so many awesome things” that travel companies can offer that will ease the pain of a journey rather than add to it, he added.

For example, instead of charging fees so harried parents can be assured of sitting with their children, an airline might offer to have diapers waiting for them at their hotel. Or a tired business traveler returning home might be relieved to know that groceries can be delivered on her arrival.

Other offers might include dining, destination services, taxi, parking, entertainment options – anything that a traveler might need

Epteca, which calls itself “the GDS of fragmented offerings,” has assembled a roster of vendors all over the world that can meet the needs of travelers in a variety of situations.

It communicates with travelers via a white-label mobile app and sends offers to them that are appropriate for the stage of their journeys and the type of trip they are taking.

The concept has taken off, and Epteca has grown by leaps and bounds – so much so that it reluctantly has had to replace some of its original vendors with larger firms that can handle the volume.

Use by off-line agencies
The platform was designed for airlines, hotels, tour operators, and online agencies, but offline agencies have begun using it as well, Jokic said.

It isn’t feasible for the smallest agencies, but for those making at least 10,000 bookings a year, it could be within reach. The company generates an individual pricing model depending on the business and its offerings.

Although Epteca has the means to fulfill requests in many countries, it currently serves customers and works with travel firms only in Europe.

That, however, is likely to change; Jokic has his eye on expansion.

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
California Independent Contractor Status Still In Jeopardy as State Senate Debates Bill

On Monday, legislators discussed a broad bill that could eliminate the ability for travel advisors to be engaged as ICs in California.

With Political Unrest Growing, What Protection Does Travel Insurance Offer?

Recent civil unrest in Puerto Rico and Hong Kong once again raised the issue about what insurance travelers should purchase for the best protection.

What Advisors Should Know About Succession Planning for a Small Business


The existence of an estate plan that provides for proper handling of the business in the event of the death of the owner is an essential legal document to put in place.

Travel Agent Popularity on the Rise Yet Again

MMGY study shows travel agent popularity is again on the rise as more consumers seek them out for their international expertise and knowledge of tours and lodging.

Look-a-Like Travel Booking Websites Could Cost Consumers

Legitimate looking websites appear to represent popular airlines and hotel chains, but they are costing travelers money and creating customer service nightmares.

Low Unemployment Impacts Travel Advisor Hiring

As Americans find jobs in other industries, it’s getting harder and harder to attract quality leisure travel agents and in states with high travel agent populations, unemployment hovered at all-time lows this summer.

News Briefs
Tip of the Day

As travel advisors, we have to be curious. Curiosity leads to impactful connections that pave our road to success. - Jenn Lee, VP of Sales and Marketing, Travel Planners International

Daily Top List

Tips for Reaching $1 Million in Sales

1. Be consistent in your marketing.

2. Create systems and follow them.

3. Use your consortium’s marketing services.

4. Listen for personal details and use them.

5. Leverage your CRM.

Source: TMR

TMR Outlooks
Advertiser's Voice
AmaWaterways - Christmas Markets