Sabre urges agencies to go online

Sabre says 83 percent of all British travel agencies are missing out on significant volumes of business by resisting an online presence.  Speaking last week (Wednesday 20 March 2002) at the ITB travel show in Berlin, the company?fs senior vice president of online travel solutions, Jeff Harmon, said travel agency websites were boosting telephone sales enquiries by up to 30 percent.

Harmon quoted ABTA figures showing that only 17 percent of all British travel agencies have any kind of Internet presence.  He said the rest were not only missing out on additional sales, but would also lose existing business to the Internet.

Just over 60 percent of all travel is currently booked through travel intermediaries - either ?etraditional?f or online travel agencies.  Harmon said this was set to remain fairly constant over the next three years, but that the online proportion would continue to increase each year.  He said it was easier for agencies to retain business by developing online travel sites of their own, than for the established online travel sites to lure customers away.

“There is an increasing number of travellers out there who are quite happy to book their own travel online, or who are keen to experiment with online travel sites?h, he said.

“It is the traditional travel agents who have these customers today, and the large online travel sites are doing their best to tempt them away.  If these customers could get the online service they are looking for from their ?etraditional?f travel agent, the large online travel sites would have a much tougher time trying to poach their business?h.