7 out of 10 Agents Admit to Switch Selling

In the latest Amadeus snap poll of more than 300
UK travel agents and industry professionals, almost 7 out of 10 of
respondents (69%) said that they have tried to switch sell clients at one
time or another to their agency’s preferred suppliers.  Of those agents who
have attempted to switch sell, 22% indicated that they are able to do this
75% of the time with a further 29% successfully switch selling between
50-75% of the time.
When asked what would prompt them to switch sell, 71% of respondents said
that they would be more likely to switch sell towards providers with agency
friendly commission structures.  However, 4 in 10 (39%) agents said that if
providers started charging agents additional fees for booking they would try
to switch sell away from these providers with 34% also saying that they
would also try and steer clear of providers using a direct sell or web only
policy.

Commissions are also obviously a key factor in driving agents to switch sell
with 76% of agents indicating that they would switch sell away from a Tour
Operator that reduced its agency commission payments. 

According to one agent “As many suppliers reduce their commission payments
for agents’ services and channel travellers towards direct or web sales, I
don’t feel guilty about switch selling away from the worst offenders.  It is
a matter of survival to take into consideration what payments I as an agent
will receive from the provider when recommending a particular product to a
client.” 

Of all travel providers, 76% of agents believed that airlines were the most
affected by switch selling.  However, almost 1 in 5 agents also estimated
that cruise lines, tour operators and hotels were also impacted by this
technique. 

The poll also found that 81% of agents believe that most travel providers
have a tendency to underestimate the power that agents have in helping
customers to make buying decisions. 

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Reflecting on the poll results, Rob Golledge, manager communication at
Amadeus UK commented, “With 7 out of 10 respondents admitting to switch
selling clients at one time or another, we see further UK evidence of the
metamorphosis of agents from ‘order takers’ to a more ‘consultancy’ role.
Surely most travellers using the services of a travel specialist would
welcome the benefit of the consultant’s superior know-how, in order to steer
them through the maze of products, operators and offers available. 

“As long as consultants listen to the needs of customers, they can recommend
a ‘best fit’ solution to match, in addition to distancing themselves from
the ‘hit-and-miss’ quality of some DIY bookings.  And the moral of the
story?  Our survey suggests that travel suppliers which underestimate the
influence agents have over purchasing decisions do so at their own risk.” 
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