Aito agents have been urged not to take to social media to vent frustrations with suppliers, but revert instead to “old-fashioned conversations”.
The message came as Aito chairman Gemma Antrobus called for frank discussions between the association’s tour operators and agents.
C The World director Carolyn Park, a new member of the Aito Agents panel, said agents should resolve problems by speaking to Aito operators directly.
She said: “Do the old-fashioned thing and talk, and if you need an independent view speak to the panel on any issues. Please don’t revert to social media.”
Matt Spiller, agents manager of Inside Asia, said operators should not be offended by agents bringing up problems, but see it as an opportunity.
“We [Inside Asia] missed a booking because we were not up to scratch and realised we needed to improve,” he said, recalling his operator’s own experience.
Spiller urged operators to reiterate to their own sales forces the benefits of working with agents. “There can be a lot of huffing and puffing [about doing an agent booking]. We should highlight that agent bookings are good bookings. In 2016, our gross sales from agent bookings were 40% higher than direct,” he said.
Ted Wake, joint managing director of Kirker Holidays, said its highest-value bookings came from agents. “You have to make sure your sales team understands agents and what it’s like at the sharp end.”
Antrobus called for an “open forum” to encourage frank discussions between agencies and decision-makers at operators on potential bones of contention.
“We have started to have these conversations and it may be something to develop,” she said. “Agents need to be brave and have open dialogue with operators.