Retail travel operations

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Independents are singular travel agents set up and owned by an individual. Every town has at least one of these independent travel agents which are self reliant. There are independent travel agencies, it’s usually just one agency on its own or has a few other agencies elsewhere. Keith Bailey is an independent organisation. Being an independent agency has the advantage that it’s easier to change things within the business, but being independent has many disadvantages like the organisation may have to compete against multi national agencies. Tickets anywhere are also an independent agency.

Miniples are based in particular areas and usually have more than six branches. Miniples are rather small or medium sized enterprises. Bakers Dolphin is a miniple agency. Being a miniple agency you are vulnerable as larger organisations are likely to take you over.

Multiple retailers have branches all throughout the UK. Thomas Cook and Going Places are both multiple retailers. They both have many retail shops all around the UK. Being a multiple agent means you have more of a competitive business as you are competing against other well known agencies, for example where ever you see a Thomas Cook a Lunn Poly store is usually close by. Usually there are over 100 stores throughout the UK making multiple retailers.

An E-agent is a great way to promote holidays. An E-agent is based on the internet and TV. It’s like an internet site where you can buy holidays, flights, insurance and much more. Lunn Poly has recently shut many of their retail agencies and has invested in the internet and teletext. The Internet is becoming more and more popular, that’s why it is getting used more often to sell holidays. Teletext holidays and flightline.co.uk are e-agents. Using the internet or teletext means you can book holidays in your own home.

A holiday hypermarket is where you can try a selection of things before you book your holiday, e.g. skiing. Holiday hypermarkets also have videos; it’s an easier way to sell the holidays to the customer. Hypermarkets are just like supermarkets where you can find out about your holiday and activities that may be involved in your holiday.

Vertical and Horizontal integration.

Vertical integration is when an organisation takes over another organisation at a higher level. For example it’s where a travel agent will work with a tour operator and an airline in the same group this way the money all stays in the one group rather than going to other companies.

My travel airways (Airline)

Airtours (Tour operator)

Going Places (Travel agents)

Customer

Horizontal integration is when an organisation takes over another organisation at the same level that they are at. They take over organisations that are or could be their competitors. If a high street agent buys all other travel agencies in the area that they compete with, this wipes out the competition for them. The diagram below is an example of horizontal integration

Airtours Panorama Manos

Brochure racking policies.

Travel agencies always try to sell their own holidays using their own brochures. The travel agent makes more money if they sell holidays from their own brochure, selling holidays from a different brochure means the money goes to the operator, so the travel agent is loosing out on money and business. Travel agents sell other organisations brochures and holidays because if they succeed in selling their holidays they get paid commission. In a travel agents retail store they store the brochures on racks right next to the entrance. This is for the customers so the customer has easy and quick access to the brochures.

Preferred operator policies.

Travel agents prefer to sell their own tour operators package deals and all their services because they receive a higher commission. When a customer enters the retail store the staff will try to show their own brochures first, if they do not succeed with their own brochures that’s when they introduce others, normally starting with the ones paying higher commission going down from there.

Trade Associations.

World Choice is a trade association. World Choice has travel agencies that find the best deals with holiday offers, destinations and prices. World Choice was founded in 1976 and now has over 600 travel agent members. It is the largest high street travel group in the UK with the success.

Advantage Travel Centres.

Advantage travel centres are nearly the same as Trade associations except that it’s for business use. It has been running for 25 years. It was made to set up to find corporate rates for business travel.

Competitive advantage

All retail travel organisations are competing against each other. This is because usually other organisations are selling the same product, so in order to be better they have to make their product look better. Organisations usually do deals and promotions to attract customers, for example ‘two full paying adults a child goes half price’ or offers like ‘book now save 30% on your holiday’. Giving discounts the customer’s eye as they see what their buying is cheaper as advertising something for free gets the customers attention as they see that their getting something for nothing. Thomas Cook offer a special deal that if a customer finds the same holiday elsewhere at a cheaper price they will match the difference or lower the price, they do this as they want there customer to see that they will do anything for their customers to make them happy and ensure that all their customers are satisfied this means customers will come back and customer loyalty will be on the increase.

Organisations usually give staff training. Customer service in a retail shop is a way to gain more business. Retail organisations want to have the best customer service and all set different standards. Having a good service for your customer is very important as it is the customer that is bringing the organisation money; therefore the organisation has to make sure the customer is totally satisfied. Some organisations train within the shop and others send their staff to be trained elsewhere. All organisations want the best service that’s why they train their staff to be competitive with their customer service skills.

Having sales incentives helps the organisation boost their staff’s enthusiasm to do their best. Incentives are great ways to get staff to achieve higher goals within the organisation. If you can make your staff work better then your business will do better.

Having a friendly atmosphere a customer can always sense. The retail environment is always the first thing someone can notice and always gives the first impressions and views. Having the best environment is important to any organisation as you want your shop/agency to look attractive and up to date. Having a wide range of products is always a good way to gain competitive advantage because if the organisation has got a product that another organisation hasn’t then obviously the customer is going to want to go where the right product is. Some retail organisations have bureau de change and others don’t, this is a good example because having this service gives you an advantage over other agencies.

The organisation try to have the best service for their customers so that the customer is satisfied and comes back again and again the customer then will also tell family and friends of the service which also start more business. This gives the organisation a better reputation and makes them look better than competing organisations. Organisations do this because it increases sales and they will make profit on the business that they do.

The front (customer service area) & back office (administration area).

The front is the customer service area. It is the most relaxing area of the shop, as it is where the customers choose their holidays. It is good for the customer to be in a relaxing environment as they will feel relaxed and be easier to talk with. In the front there are desks, chairs, leaflet, and posters all for the customer to see so he/she can ask questions when being served by staff. The back office files the customer’s information such as thief personal details, flight details and all other customer information that is private and confidential. It is the administration area; customer information is kept out the back for customer privacy. The back office is made for administrative purposes for example files, money, fax machines, photo copiers and other purposes.

The procedure & documentation for selling travel services.

– You have to read brochure booking conditions and the customer has to sign the booking form.

– A receipt is given for each payment, so you receive one for the deposit and all other payments.

– The client is advised and their details are checked over.

– Nationality of the traveller, so you can see if a visa is required etc and the passport he/she holds- visa requirements.

– Health and vaccinations- depending on where you go on holiday you may need a health check or vaccinations.

– Holiday insurance cover and E111

When customer payments are due.

When you book a holiday you have to start off by paying a first deposit to ensure that you have saved the holiday spaces. Then you have the outstanding balance. After the deposit has been paid clients then receive a receipt showing the date of when their last payment is due. Before receiving tickets for the holiday it has to be paid then the client will be contacted to collect their tickets.

The client file.

All files are private and confidential between the client and the staff, and details cannot be exchanged to any other organisations. Files are disposed of when they are finished with e.g. shredded.

Brochure handling; storage and display.

The brochures are stored out of the customer’s way so it looks tidy and you can select the brochures you put on display. All brochures on display have to be up to date, if they are on display and out of date it would be misleading the customer and be against the trade description act. The organisation usually have details with selected brochures so they will put their brochures at eye level, as it would be the first place the customer would look.

Merchandising and displays.

Flights are being promoted in the window. It is a board showing what flights are going from London and the cost of the flights. In the window the foreign exchange is also being promoted with best rates. It shows the buy and sale rates so the customer can see what they are getting for their pounds. With the chart being on display in the window it is easier for the customer to see and then they can decide about the rates etc. late deal are also on show, late deals on European flights with cheap prices showing, it looks more attractive with the low prices high lighted and it is a good way to get customer attention. It has little signs in the window with information about different holiday destinations, prices, hotels and airports. Basically it is an information sign advertising holidays in the months coming for cheap prices. There are advertisements on the left side of the window they are split up into three categories, villas& cruises, worldwide and long weekends going to Paris, London or theatre breaks.

Preferred operators.

Certain tour operators incorporate their business with other agencies so they usually go with that operator but others pay higher commission so usually travel agencies prefer to go with the one that has the best rates. Some shops have their own operator so they stay with their own company.

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