Teletext Holidays is set to reduce the number of companies it features on its website from 50 to 15, prompting concerns it will cut off a vital source of leads for those who do not make the cut.
The online intermediary would not confirm the 15 names, but On Holiday Group, Lowcost Holidays, Hays Travel, Qwerty Travel and Bookable Holidays are understood to be among them.
However, some notable names with a heavy reliance on Teletext will be culled when the new arrangements start in January.
Teletext said the move has been made to provide a better service to a smaller number of partners but one industry source said: “Teletext Holidays will have the blood of failed agencies on its hands with this. It will definitely take people down.”
Another source questioned the lack of specialists in the 15 for niche product such as cruise. “What will cruise lines think about some of their biggest agencies being turned away?” he said.
However, Victoria Sanders, managing director of Teletext Holidays, defended the move saying it would improve the performance of the website for both trade partners and consumers.
And she said for the suppliers and agencies that did not make the cut there were other opportunities to advertise through Teletext, including display, TV, merchandising platforms and to its email database.
“In the last year we have put technology at the heart of our business and the website is performing really well, with 19 million unique users and more than one hundred million holiday searches,” she said.
“We are in a strong position, but we have to bear in mind we are in a difficult market. We want to work with a smaller base of clients to deliver higher volumes and work on a more partnership level. I want access to the best product; I want them to answer all calls I deliver; I want them to deliver exclusive offers and value added.”
Sanders said Teletext has had problems with compliance although that was not the reason for it to reduce the number of partners it works with. “I cannot manage a huge range of clients. By working with 50 there is too much duplication and I need to make sure we are consumers are getting the best service.
“Some clients are operating on 40% to 45% availability, that’s not good enough. I’m sick of going ion review sites and seeing ‘Teletext Holidays, the price you see is not the price you pay.”
Sanders added: “We have to adapt out business model and commercial model to change with the market and meet the challenges we face. We have to run this as a business. It’s unfortunate there are several travel clients we cannot work with. For us this is a commercial decision to adapt to the marketplace.
“We are taking a risk on this as well. I have to perform as do the 15 partners we have chosen.”
The 15 chosen partners will be given long-term rolling contracts and Teletext will operate a “one in one out” approach replacing a partner only when a slot becomes available.
The winning tenders were based on a number of criteria including product range, compliance rating, payment record and the capability of taking the expected increased call volumes that will be delivered.
Although there will be only 15 firms delivering feeds, the number of brands featured on the site is likely to be around 35 as many of the partners have multiple brands.