Sunday, May 13, 2007

Travolution@Triton - Talk about the real world

The proposed merger between the three organisations that make up Triton – confirmed yesterday – has been flowing through so many of the conversations over the course of the weekend.

“We need to be bigger and better at what we do in order to win the battle against Thomson and Thomas Cook,” someone said last night.

Another: “The Big Two need a new challenger.”

This is hogwash. Of course they need a new challenger - and Triton could be in a very good position to do so - but the problem with all this is that people appear to be scared to talk publicly about the real competition.

In fact, as in so many other sectors of business the “traditional” marketplace no longer exists – so why kid yourselves that it still does?

It is, of course, important at an event such as this – with delegates numbers made up mostly of retail travel agents – to talk about the old environment, but it isn’t the reality.

The competition for Triton and the members of its three consortia shouldn’t be talked of only in terms of Thomson and Thomas Cook.

Expedia, for example, is dynamically packaging holidays and is effectively a tour operator as well as a travel agency.

The methods of contact with customers might be different but they are all doing the same thing – trying to sell travel products.

For retail travel agents to compete in an increasingly congested world they need to stop thinking about who they thought were their old rivals and acknowledge the new marketplace.

The likes of Triton and other industry consortiums should explain this new marketplace to those working for them in the High Street and advise them how to use the web as well.

Vertically integrated travel companies – and those that aspire to it – MUST add the web as a key component to their distribution.

Unfortunately the web, amongst so many of the people here, is still seen as a threat. It really shouldn’t be – it should be seen as a golden opportunity.

With just a few reasonably simple projects, results can come pretty quickly.

One of the slides I use during this weekend’s presentations shows how a small online travel site appears in first position in Google for an incredibly basic search result “travel benidorm” – and, crucially, above and way ahead of Thomas Cook.

Kevin May, editor, Travolution

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Anonymous said...

Kevin has got it spot on. Why have the big four decided to join forces to create two? This is a defensive move as a result of the changing market all four parties have recognised that growth is no longer possible. Merger will buy them some time to consolidate their traditional model but the new (or not so new threat) is the online travel agent/tour operator. It is ultimately here that there focus will be.

I disagree with Kevin in that he suggests agents should "stop thinking about their old rivals". The arguement is to think about old as well as new rivals.

Triton certainly has a major role to play to help their members understand, embrace and utilise the web to their own ends. Seeing it as another tool in their armoury to compete.

Kevin again rightly (in my view)points out that the web is the golden opportunity for agents. The Long Tail in travel in many ways is the independent travel agent and the web empowers them to sell their specialist knowledge and unique services to a much wider audience. It should become the weapon to help them extend their market boundary way beyond the current confines of their high street.

Neil Armorgie
Worldwide Independent Travel Network (WIN)

Travolution Blogger said...

Neil: maybe i should clarify one aspect on the post. when i said "stop thinking about their old rivals", i should probably have inserted the words " obsessively" at the end of the sentence.

thanks for your comments.

klm, ed, travo