Font Size

- Aa +

Thu 7 Feb 2008 04:00 AM

Font Size

- Aa +

Agents still essential: IATA

Travel agents remain essential to the success of the airline industry, an IATA official has claimed.

Agents still essential: IATA
KAMAL: agents are essential for air sales.

Travel agents remain essential to the success of the airline industry, an IATA official has claimed.

"More than 75% of airline sales are through travel agents - that amounts to US $187 billion," said Ibrahim Kamal, country manager, IATA, Gulf Area, addressing agents at the recent Dubai Travel and Tour Agents Group (DTTAG) general annual body meeting.

"One airline once told me that it expected 95% of its sales to come through the web; it didn't happen, and it never will.

He noted how 10 years ago, the industry predicted that travel agents would become obsolete as consumers became more internet savvy.

"But 10 years on we can confidently say that travel agents are needed and their role will grow provided they are up-to-speed with market changes and new technology. Globalisation should make things easier for everybody," Kamal said.

He told agents to view the internet as "an opportunity, not a threat", but stressed that in order for them to harness technology they desperately required formal training.

The key to survival was "specialisation" he said.

"Agents can't sell everything to everybody, everywhere. They must choose a product or a group of products.

Kamal said ensuring travel agents had strong product knowledge was also vital.

"For an agent to sell Vienna as a destination, they must visit Vienna or know a lot about it. The same applies to an air ticket," he explained.

"The current lack of formal training means a lack of quality control. Training should be a priority.

For all the latest travel news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.