Tourism heavyweights join forces to expand reach in SA

2017-02-02 10:47 - Selene Brophy
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Cape Town – The 21st century has brought about massive changes in the travel industry. Most travellers have often wondered if booking through a travel agent is going to be more expensive than booking online, weighing the risk of making the wrong travel decisions and how much it could potentially cost them.

Now two organisations, representing over 95% of the retail travel sector are joining forces - upping the game of booking through a travel expert considerably it would seem - as well as keeping the industry more on its toes in favour of the consumer. 

The Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA) and African Business Travel Association (ABTA) have formalised a strategic partnership aimed at expanding each other’s influence within the travel industry and supporting activities of mutual benefit to their respective membership. 

SEE: Travel agent vs DYI: 3 Scenarios to consider

ASATA’s strategy of Effective Communication, Member Support, Partner Relations, Consumer Awareness and Regulation is expected to receive a boost with the contribution of ABTA in such important initiatives as training and research, explains Otto de Vries, CEO ASATA. 

“An informal and mutually beneficial partnership has long existed between ASATA and ABTA with founder, Monique Swart, assisting ASATA with initiatives such as the 21st Century Travel Agent study and ASATA conference participation. 

Some of the key outcomes of the study suggests the transactional booking model is no longer viable in the 21st century as Travellers are not looking for a travel agent who will book airline tickets for them. They can do that themselves, online. Instead they are looking for added value. Meaning travel agents should maximise their ability to identify the services for which clients are willing to pay a premium.

It also suggests that agents should continue to build relationships with customers based on trust. Especially telling from ASATA’s research is that business travellers perceive that travel agents sometimes do not have their best interest at heart and that corporate procurement manager tend to only thinks about the interests of the company.  

'Work much closer together on strategic projects'

With this formalised collaboration, the two associations will work much closer together on strategic projects that will benefit both ASATA and ABTA members in future.”

The closely linked sectors of the travel industry will benefit from greater joint engagement as a result of the collaboration, says Swart.

“By bringing members of ASATA and ABTA together to talk about future industry requirements and trends, and current issues, and creating awareness of these through research and training, we believe we will be stronger together, than focusing our efforts separately, hence the need for greater and more formalised collaboration with ASATA on various fronts.” 

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