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Competition Prompts Travel Agents to Become Innovative

Competition is threatening to drive many travel agents out of business since major international airlines stopped paying commission to ticket purchases, prompting many of them to go into merger and acquisition, THISDAY checks have revealed.

In order to remain in business, many of these organisations are said to have become innovative, initiating and providing other essential services to their clients in addition to ticket booking.

National Publicity Secretary of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agents (NANTA) Mrs. Ngozi Ngoka said that travel agents have to be creative to survive in the market and this has led to merger and acquisition so that companies can boost their capital and operate at higher economy of scale.

“As the travel industry grows more competitive, travel agencies have increased the quality and type of services they offer. Travel agents can arrange all types of domestic and international travel, from hotel and resort accommodations to air and ground transportation, including car rental needs and tour packages. They can provide assistance with travel insurance protection, passport and visa applications, inoculation procedures and other foreign travel requirements.

“Some offer meeting planning and incentive travel services. Few of us have carved a niche for ourselves and have become experts in handling destination events and tailor made luxury travel,” Ngoka said.

Ngoka who is also the CEO of Zigona Travel and Tours Ltd, said some travel agents maintain automated individual profiles that include the client’s frequent flyer number, airline seating preference, smoking or non-smoking designation and other specifications for a custom-designed trip.

“Your travel agent can also make arrangements tailored to suit business and vacation objectives, personal interests and budget concerns. Although most travel agencies provide a wide range of services, some agencies may specialise in areas such as family travel, group travel, cultural and religious travel, destination events, the over 50’s market, teenage travel, budget travel, luxury travel, golf destinations, culinary travel, Safaris, sports travel, incentive travel or educational travel for children,” she said.

On the scepticism of potential travellers about travel agents, Ngoka said that travel agents are more reliable and more dependable, adding that the way the business is organised these days building goodwill and trust is more important in order for travel agents to retain and maintain their clients.

“Since travel choices are personal decisions that reflect individual desires and lifestyles, you will want to visit or call several travel agencies to find the one that best suits your needs. Consider everything from the appearance of the office to the travel agent’s willingness to listen and answer questions. The best agents want to establish a long-term relationship with a client, not just make one sale. Sometimes, customers talk a great deal about themselves to their agents and rely on them to help make choices so be sure to choose an agent that can help you make the right choices if need be,” Ngoka said.

Culled from Thisday Newspapers

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