Written By: Stephanie Knight, Copywriter – Sky Bird Travel & Tours
In the midst of a global pandemic, the travel industry is facing uncertain times. An airline consolidator can alleviate some of that uncertainty and make your job as a travel agent less stressful. We’ve compiled a list of seven ways that working with an airline consolidator can benefit you during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What is an Airline Consolidator?
Airline consolidators have contracts with airlines that give them access to net fares; unpublished fares that can be up to 30% lower than what you may would find online. Consolidators purchase these net fares and resell them to travel agents at a discounted price. Agents who buy their airfare from a consolidator have room to set a higher markup, earn more commission, and still get their clients a good deal. In turn, airlines get raised awareness on their routes, ticket options, and services.
1. Airline consolidators can fix flight cancellations
Contacting airlines during a pandemic adds an extra layer of red tape to cut through whether it’s longer hold times or greater frustration. Working with an airline consolidator makes rescheduling and rebooking less stressful. Consolidators are experts in navigating the inner-workings of airlines and the travel industry. They know exactly who to call, and consolidators have stronger negotiation abilities thanks to their longtime relationship with the carrier. From the agent’s standpoint, you’ll have a much easier time getting a hold of your airline consolidator than you would an airline.
2. Airline Consolidators Provide a Booking Engine
One of the most critical services airline consolidators offer travel agents during this time is a booking engine. A booking engine can act as a one-stop-shop for the entirety of trip planning, rescheduling, and rebooking. Life has certainly been on pause but things will pick up again soon. Searching hundreds of flights in seconds via GDS, securing the lowest net fares, locking in seats at one set rate, managing flight itineraries for large groups of travelers, and making special requests for clients are just some of the tools a consolidator’s booking engine brings to a travel agent to rebuild their business during and after the pandemic. If you’re looking to get a head start, check out Sky Bird Travel & Tours’ newly updated WINGS Booking Engine. It has all of the above capabilities, plus a more streamlined dashboard. While you may not have sold many airline tickets in the past, there is good indication that airline travel (including domestic air travel) will recover before cruising does.
3. Airline consolidators provide homebased agents with a greater number of resources
Being your own boss can be highly rewarding, but in the middle of a pandemic, it can feel like all you’re doing is struggling to stay afloat. Let an airline consolidator serve as your life raft!
Some consolidators have a dedicated Groups Department – specifically there to assist with airline groups of ten or more passengers. They’ll assist with everything from rescheduling hotels, rebooking flights, and locking in rates so everyone in the group pays the same low price.
Even if you’re fluent in a second language, it’s just easier to converse in your native tongue – especially when trying to rebook travel in the middle of COVID-19. Many consolidators hire employees who can speak multiple languages to make booking easier for their clients. Don’t be afraid to ask your consolidator if they have someone who can assist you in your preferred language.
4. Airline Consolidators Are Ready 24/7
There’s never a convenient time for travel emergencies to happen. It’s even more challenging because everyone is facing the same crisis simultaneously. Knowing you don’t have to manage the whole thing on your own is a relief. An airline consolidator will help you navigate the rough waters from the start of your clients’ trip to the end. And they’re ready any time of day or night to talk when you need to. There’s no such thing as “Banker’s Hours” when it comes to travel.
5. Airline consolidators can help with marketing
Consolidators have the means to market more flights, tour packages, and destinations when the pandemic ends. In fact, a home agent may not have a budget for promotional materials whatsoever. Working with a consolidator allows you to ride the coattails of their marketing potential and get your travel business off the ground when the industry begins to rebound.
6. Airline consolidators help with niche areas
While most people think of travel as a vacation, there are several circumstances in which travel requires a specific expertise on the part of the travel agent. Travelers have missed religious events, family milestones, delayed volunteer opportunities, and put off sporting events due to the pandemic. An airline consolidator can help travel agents navigate the tricky waters of niche travel.
7. Consolidators can help agents upsell
The idea of trying to upsell aspects of a trip may seem impossible given the current circumstances. However, working with an airline consolidator can make this more palatable for your clients, securing you a better commission and ensuring their rebooked trip is still at a reasonable price. For example, if a client is finally flying home to India to celebrate a wedding that had been delayed, they’re looking at a very long flight – multiple flights most likely. They’re already stressed about flying in close quarters so soon after the pandemic. An airline consolidator can work with the agent to find the client a seat upgrade so they’re more comfortable during the flight and can focus on catching up with family.
The future of travel seems uncertain at the moment, but things will return to normal very soon and working with an airline consolidator can make the travel agent’s job less stressful and more profitable.