While the statistical results are fascinating, even more revealing were the comments made by travel agents about the airlines, revealing the highly emotive nature of the relationship. While many predictably bemoaned declining levels of service, commissions and visits by airline representatives, others were more regretful about how the landscape has changed over the years. Several highlighted the key role of travel agents in the event of disruptions. “When an emergency happens airlines cannot cope with passengers telephoning them… agents save airlines money, and when a problem occurs they solve it for their clients,” one consultant responded. A key issue was wait times at airline call centres, with agents saying they actively try not to sell carriers which keep them on hold for extended periods. One respondent even blamed the poor service from airlines for driving consultants out of the travel industry. “Hotels and tour operators are fine, but anxious to end your call… I don’t think any other industry gives such appalling service to the professionals selling them,” the agent commented. Another said “they do not get that we are an important part of the selling chain and a cheap source of customer service”. The bottom line, according to a further respondent, is that the relationship feels very one-sided. “The attitude from the airlines is as if they want to cut out the agent and don’t require our input or expertise… it’s a great shame, as it could be a fantastic symbiotic relationship to such mutual benefit”.
I don’t think any other industry gives such appalling service to the professionals selling for them...’
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