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Working Effectively with Consolidators

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Air consolidation is a multi billion dollar market and if you’re not actively participating in it you are, probably, missing some profits in your P&L. A few misconceptions have led to the idea that travel agents cannot make money selling air tickets and nothing could be so wrong!

Misconception #1: Consolidation is a thing of the past. Airlines are not interested in that, anymore!

Nothing could be farther from the truth! Airlines face strong competition on all routes and the continuously increasing sizes of the airplanes force them to look for strong distributors to fill their capacity. Consolidators are one of their primary markets getting discounted airfares, discounts that they pass along to you.

Misconception #2: My clients find better prices on the web so, why bother?
It is true that a number of airfares are published and must be sold by all distributors at the price showing on the ticket. However consolidators have access to discounts on those fares and, because of their contracts with the airlines, the fares do not show on the ticket, meaning that on the one hand you make a commission paid by the consolidator and, on the other hand you are still competitive with fares available on the web.

Misconception #3: It’s an ethnic business and I don’t want any part of it!
It was a long time ago that consolidators focused on the ethnic markets alone. Today, good consolidators have access to the so-called “ethnic” fares but also to special net fares, business, first class and leisure fares. The latter are more stable and have different conditions such as ticketing deadlines and change conditions and the fare never shows on the ticket.

Misconception #4: Those guys are always busy. I have no time to spend hours on the phone!
These days you don’t have to call a consolidator for a reservation. Technology has changed and all good consolidators offer a booking engine, commission tables and even group request facilities on their websites. If you prefer working on the “Blue screen”, consolidators let you bridge your system to theirs making their fares deals available on your computer. Most consolidators make Skype (or other instant messaging program) available to you, once you have a relationship with them. Ticketing is also automated, for the most part, giving you complete independence without any loss of time.

Misconception #5: My market is groups. I don’t need a consolidator!
You can contact the airlines directly and look for group prices and space and, then, take on all the burdens of managing your contract. However, all this time and effort you spend communicating with the airlines can be used to sell more groups and provide top customer service to your clients. One single call or email to your consolidator gives you better results because consolidators have access to special group fares not available to the regular travel agent. The consolidator will manage and administer the group with the airline and will remind you of the critical points such as deposit dates, name list, etc.

Depending on your business strategy there are other advantages you may be able to negotiate with a consolidator. No matter what, remember this: Consolidation is alive and well and some agents are taking full advantage of it to increase their profits. If you are not, it is time for you to review your options and get on the bandwagon as soon as you can!