Agents attack discounting culture in wake of collapses

by Rob Gill

Agents have attacked the industry’s discount culture, warning that other firms could follow Goldtrail and Monster unless more is done to curb excessive markdowns.

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Lee Harrison, owner of Select World Travel, said cruise clubs could become the next victims, if prices remained unregulated.

“I know of cruise clubs which make £15-20 commission on cruises that they sell,” he said.

“I wouldn’t want to compete at that level. The lines often already come out with saver fares – sometimes 40-55% off the brochure price. Why would anyone want to discount further?

“The cruise clubs that discount to this extent could follow Goldtrail,” he added.

Harrison urged the industry to combine forces to combat the discount culture. “The industry should join together – all the associations, Advantage, Abta, the TTA,” he said. The Trading Standards Institute needs to clamp down on companies which are discounting too much as well.”

Hays Travel managing director John Hays said there was no chance of a return to the days of when agents were not allowed to discount on brochure prices.

But Bobbie Karagkounis, head of operations and business development at travel agency Purple Travel, which has been recruiting ex-employees from Goldtrail and Monster Travel, added: “We must move on from this discount culture to protect the travel industry, its reputation and our customers.

“Travel companies should look at the long-term effects this discounting culture is having on us – lower profit margins, companies going into administration, greater competition and higher complaints from customers,” he said.

“If customers are being sold cheap accommodation to be able to reduce the price of a holiday, then the likelihood of that customer returning to book their next holiday is low. We must ensure what we sell is beneficial to the customer.”

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