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Retail travel's 2020 success tool: "Co-op-etition"

Michele Dickinson

Business Development/Account Manager, Amadeus

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Go ahead. Start a conversation with someone from any segment or sector, and you’re bound to hear how their industry has changed dramatically over the past few years. (Truth be told: all industries are constantly changing – with some disappearing completely.)

I remember when I was a travel agent back in the early 1990s, when Delta first capped travel agency commissions. It didn’t take long for other airlines to follow suit – and eventually they abolished commissions altogether. Media headlines decried the death of the retail travel agent when in reality, our careers would experience all-new changes and opportunities!

Next came the advent of the internet and online travel agencies. How were brick-and-mortar agencies supposed to compete (let alone survive)? Did we really need a travel agent anymore? Why pay service fees to travel agencies when we could book online – for free? Once again, the industry “dooms-dayers” predicted these events would certainly drive the final nail in the retail travel agent’s coffin. They didn’t.

New year, new beginnings

So here we are at the dawn of a new decade, and I’m happy to report that the retail travel industry is alive and kicking … yes, still going strong. This isn’t to say we’ve experienced some tough challenges and casualties along the way. In fact, today’s retail travel agency professionals are challenged now more than ever to work smarter and savvier for their money – but then again, who isn’t?

Amadeus Vice President of Retail Sales, Champa Magesh, recently identified “5 Golden Rules” for Amadeus team members who support our retail agency customers. In my view, these rules apply to our customers’ business as well, so I thought I’d pass them along:

  1. Stay true to your dream – Focus on your core strengths; work them to every advantage.
  2. Reach and diversity – Find new ways to uncover new customer opportunities you may not have considered before.
  3. Retail is detail – Serving customers requires crossing every “T” and dotting every “I.” As the old saying goes, “The devil is in the detail.”
  4. All for one and one for all – We all know there is no “I” in “Team;” we are meant to work together.
  5. Co-op-etition over competition

Co-opting for success

The first four rules are self-explanatory, but the one I found that offered a fresh, new twist was No. 5, “Co-op-etition over competition.” Here’s what this means. Think of retail giants like Amazon; their business model dictates that they work in partnership with companies and retailers who, on any given day, could certainly be viewed as their competitors. The travel industry has also embraced this principle; consider how retail travel agencies work closely with consolidator “competitors” who enable them to offer lower fares to their customers (and earn more money). This “healthy competition” yields a win/win for both!

The travel industry is changing – and will continue to change dramatically – over the next decade. Indeed, the pace of change will only accelerate. At Amadeus, we have a global team in place that’s focused on the business health and growth of our retail customers. Our goal is to stay close to our customers and partners, ensuring that we offer the products, services and value they need to navigate and succeed in these constantly-changing times. Whether this happens by introducing new products, improving support channels, or delivering more content to desktops such as NDC, we understand this principle full well: Your success is our success.

We wish our retail customers – in fact, all Amadeus customers, a happy, prosperous and thriving 2020. As industry history has proven, we all still have a long life ahead of us!


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