The proliferation of ‘factory outlets’ or ‘manufacturer-direct’ prices has become common place, but are we getting true ‘outlet or direct’ prices?
The middleman, agent or even retailer is suffering in our modern internet-based environment and big-box stores which appear to offer rock-bottom prices but still make enormous profits are commonplace.
The world of agents from insurance to travel to financial are feeling the crunch as they are rapidly being considered as expensive cost overheads by the producer, provider or manufacturer.
The airlines started the demise of the travel agency system when they started eliminating agent commissions and over-rides and turned to online booking systems aimed directly at the consumer, forcing some retail agencies to charge additional booking fees. Now you can find airline reservation sites charging fees for online seat selection plus anything else that they can get away with. Are the savings they are making being passed on to the consumer?
Insurance companies began advertising for direct dealings as did banks with their development of in-house financial planners (not at all independent, but merely another name for a bank products salesperson). Are they keeping the old commission for themselves or do they pass on the savings to the consumer?
Let’s focus on one of the consumers’ largest expenditures over a lifetime – recreational travel, business travel, vacations and trips and the Retail Travel Agent or Agency:
1.These were really needed before the consumer could access websites from B&B’s to Hotels,
Luxury Lodges and Tour Operators or if you wanted to pick up an expensive glossy brochure.
2.These were really needed before travel providers and tour operators enabled the consumer to
book directly with them on the internet with reservation systems and booking requirements that required little training or expertise.
3.These were really needed before airlines promoted their own booking services and became more greedy for any extra percentage or fee and wanted to be rid of travel agents as expensive and redundant overheads.
Now, these agents are only really needed if travelers want knowledge, experience and expertise of specific destinations, activities or tour companies, or of course, those travelers still not using the web.
Let’s not feel too sorry for retail agents as top-notch travel consultants are essential to travelers who have complex itineraries or who are venturing to the lesser know areas of the world. All is not dark for travel agents with knowledge, experience and expertise as consumers who need these professionals now have access to them with the web wherever they may be located and no longer need to use local agents unless they have the requisite skills. But, they still have to be found as they may not be in your local area or even in your own country.
There are various forms and levels of travel middlemen – Inbound Tour Operators, Wholesalers, Retail Agencies, all of which earn a percentage from the original travel provider for their advertising, promotion and sales efforts, these percentages can be anywhere from 10% to 25% or even more! When you see a travel advertisement offering $200 off per person and you book through a retail agent, you are still paying the commission, so by booking directly with the operator you should get the special offer and also save the commission.
Some travel operators already offer their products directly to the consumer but at the same prices as the consumer would get from a retail agent. Fair enough if these providers do not use middlemen but if they also sell through retailers their prices should be ‘net of commissions’ for direct bookers and ‘retail’ for agency sales.
When the consumer goes directly to the travel provider these middlemen percentages should not apply but the provider is sometimes in a predicament. To show a net price and retail price on their website could deter the middlemen from handling their products. Until now.
Travel providers are now able to offer net prices directly to consumers by using the TopTravelVoucher services. This website is in effect operating as a travel agent who does not sell travel on behalf of travel operators, but generates travelers who go directly to the providers for information and bookings. As the website does not need bricks and mortar offices, expensive glossy brochures, familiarization trips and computer reservation systems plus all the other paraphernalia of operating a travel agency, it is able to rebate sales commissions to travelers as a reward for handling their own arrangements directly with the travel operators.
This innovative consumer travel service offers travel discounts in over 70 countries to travelers who purchase their deeply discounted TopTravelVouchers. They offer their services to the global travel trade community and to the global traveler. They do not charge the travel trade for any promotion services and allow multiple listings for any kind of travel product as long as the consumer gets net pricing.
The consumer does not have to buy before seeing the travel offer and can also buy the vouchers to be used as gift certificates. All vouchers come with a 100% money back guarantee and even if the traveler is unhappy after completion of travel the monies for the vouchers are still 100% refundable.
At present you can get TopTravelVouchers for Escorted Tours, Eco Tours, Adventure Tours, Small Boat Cruises, Lodges, Resorts, Hotels, B&B’s and new products are arriving on a daily basis.
Some tours offer a flat percentage off of the retail price while other vouchers have a fixed value. One voucher for a Greek Cruise has a value of 1,500euros and can be purchased for only $100usd and there are many escorted tours around the world offering a 10% discount on the tour price, which can be significant depending on length of tour and number of travelers. If you have a family or group of travelers you can often buy a voucher for each person (there is a particular 7 day Thai River Rovers cruise that appeals to me if I can find a few friends to join the charter).
So now, no matter where you live or where you want to go, you can book discounted travel from your home, cyber-cafe or laptop anywhere in the world. You could be in the offices of a tour operator and go online and get a voucher and then hand it over to get instant savings. Not bad eh?
This website and concept is a first for the internet and with the support of the global travel trade from the smallest of travel operators to the giants, it can only grow larger with expanded product selections and savings as this aspect of internet travel is on a seemingly endless growth path.
Travelers who go directly to travel websites must do their own due diligence, talk free with skype, 800 number, or email with the operators, read testimonials, check the latest pricing and last minute deals, make a booking and check for deeply discounted TopTravelVouchers in order to get fairer fare prices. If your tour operator does not offer a ‘net of commissions’ tour price when you do your own bookings, ask for it or suggest they start to offer these vouchers and you will start saving on your travel.
Although this service is not yet a household word for travelers the TopTravelVoucher service is on the way to making a difference in that we can now find true outlet prices for a lot of travel choices directly from tour operators, wholesalers and even retail travel agents who often operate their own in-house tour programs. All want to expand their reach to the ever expanding international client base of travelers comfortable with handling their own travel arrangements and who all want fairer fare prices.