Travel agents and tourism boards go head to head

Gemma Greenwood, 13 Feb 2013 14:36

Calling all travel professionals to have their say in Arabian Travel Market debate

Right now there are thousands of travel professionals around the region going about their daily business, seemingly chirpy, but smiling through gritted teeth. Why do they live with such a heavy burden, you may ask?  It’s quite simple; for one reason or another, they fail to speak openly about the little things that niggle them in their jobs and so they carry on while the niggle eats away and finally becomes a long-term grievance that is so entrenched, they believe there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

It seems to be a sad story with no happy ending, but fortunately, there is now a cure for this affliction – the chance to engage in open debate at this year’s Arabian Travel Market.

Yes, the seminar programme is back and it’s bigger and better than ever and what’s more, packed with opportunities for the travel trade to battle out their issues – verbally, of course.

Perhaps the highlight as far as travel agents and tourism boards are concerned, is the ‘head to head’ session designed with their particular grievances in mind.

Many of you will know the story as it’s as old as the hills. The National Tourism Organisations (NTOs) are more often than not, cheesed off with what they deem “lack of cooperation” from travel agencies.

One of the biggest bugbears is that some agents will not reveal figures as to how many clients they have sent to a destination, making it difficult for the NTOs to analyse the market and sometimes, justify to their head offices why they should maintain a presence in the region. What’s more, the tourism boards claim agents are abusing familiarisation (‘fam’) trips by pulling out at the last minute, sending the wrong staff or treating them as a holiday rather than a chance to learn how to sell that destination.

The agents have their gripes too – I mean, just how many destination training sessions can they really attend, whether in the office, off site or online? Agency staff and managers are being hassled to provide figures, engage in training and attend events and trips that are just too time consuming if they are to address the demands of every NTO.

So what’s the answer? There may be no hard and fast solution but healthy debate is a good start, so don’t miss the ‘NTOs and travel agencies go head to head’ seminar session on Thursday May 9th at 1.30pm sharp, where the two parties will air their issues and perhaps agree to better cooperate or at least, communicate.

A stellar panel is currently being lined up to spearhead this event, but audience participation will be crucial too. And who knows, you might leave the seminar theatre smiling without the gritted teeth!

*The seminar programme will be on the website shortly for you to view

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