IN BRIEF: April 2019 issue

HOTELS hail ALP price parity plan

There are lots of promises thrown around when there’s an election in the wind, and many of them are just a lot of hot air. But just occasionally a politician says something that makes sense — as was the case last month when Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh, highlighted the plight of accommodation providers in the face of the might of online travel agents, Expedia and Booking.com. Leigh bemoaned the current ACCC-backed situation where hoteliers are often contractually obliged to offer their best rates through all online channels, denying them the ability to undercut the OTAs even on their own websites. Leigh noted that about 85% of online accommodation bookings were controlled by the overseas giants, who charge commissions of up to 30%, with this price parity policy also resulting in many hotel direct websites plummeting in online search results.

Leigh noted that in several European countries these “price parity” clauses in OTA contracts have been banned. “A Shorten Government will give local accommodation providers greater control of their own businesses,” the MP said, adding the move would also “improve choice and lower the price of a weekend away”.

Qantas shuffles the sales deck

Qantas has assured the travel industry that a restructure of its Australian sales team will not impact service levels or agency support, with all existing employees able to apply for jobs under the revamped arrangements. The changes, which include the “reshaping” of key leadership roles in the QF Agency Partnerships division, aim to prepare for the execution of the airline’s new Qantas Channel distribution strategy (travelBulletin March 2019) as well as “align resources around the go-to market channels of Corporate, SME and Leisure”.

Three new Regional Manager roles will cover Qld/NT, WA/SA and Vic/Tas, while the sales roles in Tasmania and South Australia will become state Manager positions, with the changes rippling down to reporting lines and impacting on several sales and distribution roles. “We believe these changes will put us in an even better position to deliver on our priorities and set us up for long-term success,” staff were informed.

Collette closes in UK

Collette Vacations has made the difficult decision to cease operations in the UK, more than two decades after establishing its British presence.

The shutdown of the office and call centre will be finalised in April 2020 and all existing reservations are being honoured, but the UK sales team has already been made redundant. A statement from the company said it was making the move “in order to focus on its expanding operations in the US, Canada and Australia”.

“After consecutive years of performing below our targets, as well as the uncertainty in the UK market relating to Brexit, we identified this as an appropriate time to remove our physical presence in the UK to redirect global resources towards our highest-performing businesses,” said Executive Vice-President, Jeff Roy.

In Australia it’s a different story, with Collette Marketing Manager, James Hewlett, telling travelBulletin the business continues to surge, with ongoing expansion of Collette’s sales team across the country.

G goes tailormade

G Adventures is betting big on the rising trend for private and custom tours, with the launch of a new range of “TailorMade” itineraries. Travel agents will be intimately involved in the new program, with G Adventures expanding its sales team and assigning dedicated specialists who will help consultants design the trips.

A wide variety of options will be available, with the new program allowing travellers to select a sample itinerary and depart on their own ideal date, amend an existing itinerary to suit their preferences, or create a whole new bespoke holiday.

G Adventures founder Bruce Poon Tip said he believed there was a “distinct gap in the market” for tailor-made solutions in adventure travel — particularly in the affordable and mid-market price ranges. Launch destinations for 2019 include Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Costa Rica, Peru, Ecuador and India.

Travel insurance review

The travel insurance market has been put on notice, with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) confirming it was “scoping a review” of the sector which offers one of the country’s most complained-about financial products.

ASIC Executive Director of Financial Services, Michael Saadat, said the fine print in travel insurance policies was “often what makes it difficult for policyholders to make a claim”.

Currently at an early stage, the prospective review is expected to focus on exclusions around pre-existing health conditions. The Australian Financial Complaints Authority, established late last year to help deal with issues about financial services and products, also has travel insurance as part of its remit.

Lead Ombudsman for General Insurance, John Price, said other issues included denied claims for stolen luggage where insurers insisted the items had been “left unattended,” injuries to unlicensed motorbike riders and disputes about expensive jewellery not declared when the policy was taken out. However he also noted that the number of complaints about travel insurance had remained relatively static, compared to those relating to banks which had surged 40%.

Trafalgar’s new CEO

The move by Matthew Cameron-Smith to become Managing Director of AAT Kings earlier this year has opened the way for the appointment of his replacement at Trafalgar, with The Travel Corporation confirming that Jason Wolff is taking up the role. Wolff, whose experience includes a range of retail-facing roles in businesses like Supercheap Auto, BCF and Ray’s Outdoors, joins TTC from Flight Centre where he has been Head of Marketing for the last three years.

Trafalgar Global CEO Gavin Tollman said Wolff was “a passionate leader that will continue to succeed Trafalgar as the leader in our category. Jason’s customer centric approach with a strong focus on commercial outcomes and stakeholder engagement, along with his diverse experience across a variety of senior management roles, his ability to think outside of the box and his desire to inspire and engage the members of the team to deliver bigger and better ideas as well as help further define these for our agent partners — make him the perfect candidate and we are delighted to welcome him to the Trafalgar team,” Tollman added.

Wolff starts his new role at The Travel Corporation later this month, with Cameron-Smith on hand to assist with the transition.

Sustainability line-up

Later this month travelBulletin is proud to be part of Australia’s first ever travel industry Sustainability Summit — a one-day event convened by the Business Publishing Group.

Such is the interest in the event that a number of international keynote speakers will be in attendance, including Daniel Skjeldam, the CEO of Hurtigruten Cruises and Giles Hawke, the Global Lead — Sustainability for the Globus Family of Brands. Alongside them will be high-profile environmentalist and former Australian of the Year, Tim Flannery and a host of Australian industry leaders.

Key sponsors include Intrepid, Globus and Avalon Waterways, CLIA, Abercrombie & Kent, G Adventures, The Travel Corporation, Rocky Mountaineer, Hurtigruten, Monaco Tourism and Hands On Journeys.

Next month’s travelBulletin will continue the theme of sustainability too. We hope you can join us at the Summit as we share best practice to ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy roaming the planet.

See sustainabilitysummit.com.au.

 

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