Agents embrace service fees: Amadeus

GDS provider Amadeus claims many travel agents are embracing the opportunity to set their own service charge in the wake of many airlines cutting commission to zero.

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By  Gemma Hornett Published  June 4, 2006

“Every single agency I have spoken with (and there are 90 countries in our circulation) has said it is better off with zero commission,” said Sari Vähäkoski, director, Middle East & Africa and Central, Eastern & Southern Europe, Amadeus. “I’ve even known people who have made themselves active in the travel agency association to push for zero commission, knowing that they would be able to package their services. They are better off without it.” Anticipating the move towards the abolition of commission and the introduction of service charges, Amadeus Jordan introduced the Amadeus Service Fee Manager to nine travel agents based in Amman on January 1 this year. “We brought representatives from agencies to our offices to discuss their different needs; what service charge they plan to impose on different services, like telephone calls, tickets, hotel bookings, and car bookings for example,” explained Fadi Asal, general manager, Amadeus Jordan. “Agencies seem to like the idea; the management have peace of mind because they do not have to tell every single ticketing employee what fee has to be added. Instead, they do all the homework once, setting the required rules that are then automatically validated by the system, reducing the room for human error.” Mohamad Barakat, general manager of Alshamel Travel and Tourism, Jordan, one of the nine agencies to install Amadeus Service Fee Manager, said the new system was not currently being used to its full potential. “At the moment, we are not charging customers anything. But for us to make profit, we will have to make some sort of service charge eventually and we have to be able to explain and show the customer why we are charging that much,” he explained. Alshamel plans to fully adopt the Amadeus system from July when the airlines and agent representative groups such as the Dubai Travel & Tour Agents Group (DTTAG) have decided what service charge policies should be adopted, Barakat added. Amadeus said the outcome of such talks would drive demand for the Amadeus Service Fee Manager from agencies willing to embrace change. “What will happen for sure in the industry [as a result of the zero commission environment] is consolidation,” said Vähäkoski. “Only the strong travel agencies with a brand name and good services will remain.”

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