Written By: Steven Hartman, Sky Bird Travel & Tours
Are you using an airline consolidator when booking airfare for your customers? When attending a trade show, you may have seen booths set up for consolidators and have been curious about what they do, however, you continued past them to visit an airline carrier, vacation company, or maybe even the bathroom. Or perhaps you are new to the travel industry and have never even heard of a consolidator.
Regardless, there are many benefits to finding fares through a consolidator. For starters, how about making more money? Here are 9 reasons why you should register and work with a consolidator:
- Earn Higher Commissions
More money? Absolutely! Consolidators have contracts in place with the airlines who then provide unpublished and net fares to pass along to travel agents. As opposed to going through other means, a consolidator could help lower the fare cost. This gives you the chance to pass along the savings to your customer and still pocket a high commission.
On top of higher commissions, consolidators can often make changes to a ticket without the passenger incurring an additional cost.
- The Ability to Market Fares in Advance
Many consolidators use the power of email blasts and social media to advertise new fares/low fares to destinations all over. You can use these fares to entice your customers to book their trip.
Have your clients told you the destinations on their bucket lists? When you tell them about a great low fare, you could be providing the first step in planning their dream vacation.
- Better Positioned to Compete
Consolidators help level the playing field. With access to countless net fares and unpublished fares, a home-based agent or brick-and-mortar agency has the ability to give their customers great fares often with a more personalized focus on customer service.
Large agencies use consolidators to enjoy the same benefits of net fares direct from the airlines.
- 90+ Air Carriers at Your Disposal
Consolidators make it their job to network and develop trusted relationships with air carriers in order to secure contracts. They can then pass along affordable seating options, various routes, and special deals and promotions the airline client prefers to advertise. Beyond net fares though, travel agents can utilize an established relationship with any number of air carriers from all over the world.
Airlines like Virgin Australia, Etihad, and Brussels Airlines work with consolidators to make their routes more accessible to US-based travelers.
- 24/7 Customer Service
For the consolidators offering 24/7 customer service, a travel agent has peace-of-mind when booking. If weather delays, cancellations, or emergencies come up, they have a direct connection to the airlines beyond every other traveler experiencing such a delay.
- Consolidators Need You
Simply put: without travel agents there are no consolidators. Consolidators depend on their airline connections and low net fares to stay in business with travel agents. A good consolidator is invested in ensuring the success of the travel agent.
- Comprehensive Vacation Planning
There are many agents who plan cruises, tours, etc. but send their customers to find flights. By going through a consolidator, you can often get a better fare for international flights, take the commission for booking it, and create a comprehensive package for your client. Many consolidators can help you with the back-end work so you can concentrate on selling.
- Complex Itineraries
The power to book on reputable international carriers in order to make the trip more affordable is a huge cost-savings benefit to the consumer. For multiple segments, multiple origins, and stopovers, a consolidator can offer a seamless travel experience and make any complex itinerary easier. Even gap years, which may need to be booked well in advance and includes immense pre-planning and long-term stays, can be managed by a consolidator.
- Group Rates
Sports teams. Church groups. Wine clubs. Imagine trying to get airfare for 25 people or more! It is quite a daunting task, but an experienced consolidator makes the process easier and secure a lower fare for the group. Because of the volume of business, any rules and restrictions given to the consolidators by the airline when booking groups can benefit the customer. A good consolidator will keep track of your group from booking until they return home.
How do you choose a consolidator? You do not need to work with any single one so you can register with a few and see which one you like the best. Low net fares, a customer service department willing to help you every step of the way, longstanding relationships with airlines, and experience are all key factors when finding the best airline consolidator.