Balkan Holidays has slashed its online discount on package holidays and abolished it for flight-only packages after an agent raised the issue on a Facebook travel chat group forum.
The discount for packages has been reduced from 7.5% to 5% and ditched completely for flight-only deals on Balkanholidays.co.uk.
The tour operator, which was forced to defend its decision to increase the online discount for packages to 10% for a weekend promotion in November last year, said the move was based on market conditions rather than in response to agent complaints.
Rupert Diggins, sales and marketing manager, said the decision was a result of the company’s constant review of all aspects of trading, competitors and the economic climate.
“This is something we review regularly. What’s happened is that market conditions have changed and we have amended the policy, which is now very much in favour of the agent.”
Diggins could not rule out increases in the online discount in future but stressed that the trade was “exceptionally important” to the operator.
“It has been really well received. Agents are very supportive of the action we have taken,” he added.
Diggins would not reveal agency commission levels, but admitted agents would still have to discount their commission to compete with package prices online.
Travel agent Mike Lake, owner of Skyplane Worldchoice, who raised the issue on the Facebook group Travel Gossip, said he would now sell more Balkan Holidays.
“I will certainly promote them more because they are being more supportive, and I would not have done otherwise,” he said.
Lake said he had contacted the operator because it did not pay commission to agents on flight-only sales and yet was discounting it online. “It just didn’t make sense,” he said.
The issue of undercutting agents online remains an issue for agents, he added, particularly with the larger operators.