Friday, July 12, 2024

‘Agents have a crucial role to play in travel recovery’

Orient Travels, UAE’s leading travel management company is one of the most experienced travel specialists in the region. With over 58 years of expertise in the region, they are a testament to why the expertise of a travel agent will always be what separates them from online booking sites. 

As IATA rolled out their NDC Distribution system, it further strengthened the agency’s relationship with their GDS partners like Sabre, Amadeus and Travelport, all of whom have been providing them with GDS content over a period of time.

Speaking to Arabiatravelnews, Srilatha Reddy Senior General Manager – Corporate Travel for Orient Travels & Tourism Agency said “We work with all the GDS providers today as they have adequate knowledge, experience as well as the longstanding know-how in catering to the travel industry needs. They have been consistent, progressive in developments and are reliable.”

While this may mean dealing with higher GDS charges, Reddy is unfazed. “Unfortunately the travel industry works with negligible margins and the distribution systems currently do contribute a certain amount of revenue which will have a direct impact on the bottom line.”

But working with the GDS’s has its own benefits, according to Reddy, as a global client has great emphasis on data compliance and safety & security of their business travelers. “The GDS systems are well versed with both these aspects and support the travel management companies to facilitate these critical requirements.”

“What the airlines can do differently, however, is to  better their negotiations with the GDS to provide richer content with minimal outlay.”

In the service industry, traveler experience always is of great importance and only a Travel Management Company who knows their customer and will play the role of providing these elements i.e personalization and ancillaries.

“Aggregators need to provide complete end to end solutions that are workable and reliable for us. Today, we have the capability and engagement with subscription based platforms to sell non- GDS content (especially the low cost global carriers). These platforms are not necessarily more cost effective, but they facilitate us with content that is not available otherwise locally,” she added.

Travel as we know it has changed and Reddy is clear that today more than ever, travel agents have a crucial role to play.

“Examples of situations are endless. Historical facts reveal that during any crisis, it has been the travel partners of customers who have always been there to assist and reorganize. Even during the current situation and the initial lock down, we had activated business continuity planning (BCP) and were available for our customers all through 24/7.”

Looking ahead, Reddy is cautiously optimistic about 2021. “Although there was a glimmer of hope for 2021, a lot of uncertainties came up. With the Expo 2020 starting this October, we are hoping that we have a decent last quarter to close the year on a positive note.”

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