Change is the most powerful tool for progress and, adapting and accepting change with an open mind can only facilitate effective and effortless progress. The travel trade fraternity is going through its share of challenges and an inevitable metamorphosis. The traditional models, formats and tools of business need to be verified and reworked to meet the demand of today and tomorrow; skill upgradation backed by sound product knowledge will go a long way in paving a strong business model. On one hand the fight for survival continues, on the other hand agents need to be willing to adapt to changes. It is now time to invest in technology and accept new systems and online networking tools to enhance business performance.
Investing in human resource and skills development to meet the future requirement is yet another aspect that needs serious attention. Having said that, it brings us to a popular discussion on how crucial it is to get the front-line staff educated on the product they are selling. It is important to invest in staff training and educate them about products before they sell them to their respective clients. Sharing his views on the same Praveen Chugh, vice-president, TAFI and CEO and director, Tsi Yatra believes that the experience that will be provided to the agents in South Africa will definitely place them in a better position to sell the new KwaZulu-Natal region better to their respective clients.
The agents’ fraternity is going through its share of bottlenecks ranging from the tangible to the intangible – financial grievances like payment settlements, credit recovery systems to building new avenues of growth and opportunities. The decision to effectively and prudently use the tools provided by the GDS service providers to empower the agents’ fraternity by looking into other forms of bookings apart from airline bookings, namely hotels, car rentals, cruises, etc, have been in discussion since long. These tools promise new revenue generating channels that can be used to the agents’ benefit. Further, the discussion on charging a management fee for service has also been in talks for a long time. Speaking emphatically on this issue Sanjay Arya, director, Uniglobe Keshav Travels and joint secretary TAFI, says, “The recent Supreme Court order on not letting transaction fees to be charged is a dampener. We are left with no choice but to seek new avenues of growth. The time has come to truly work as a team like the way our counterparts in Europe and USA function. They charge a certain fee for the service provided and we in India our working in a way that goes against our very interest. We need to be united and work as a team.” Apart from the demand that agents need to be united when it comes to business practice and trade, the agents are also unanimous in their voice while expressing that the airlines and agents are partners in business and hence they need to work as allies.