A new merchandising website to help increase your agency revenue

Published on: Sep 27 2017 by Stuart Oxby

What’s all the hype about merchandising?
Years ago when we bought an airline ticket, the price included a designated seat, a checked bag and possibly a meal.  And then along came the low cost carriers (e.g. Ryanair, Easyjet) who began to strip back or ‘unbundle’ the fare.  For some, who didn’t want to travel with luggage and were happy to sit anywhere, this offered a cheaper ride.  For many others, re-bundling the fare (to add luggage, a seat, priority boarding) can be time-consuming and complex. Time to call in the professionals!

The opportunity for airlines to ‘merchandise’ – by which we mean sell targeted ancillary services, offer upgraded ‘fare families’ or show ‘rich content’ to complement the basic airline ticket – is now huge business both for traditional Full Service Carriers as well as the Low Cost Carriers.  In fact, it is estimated to be worth $67 billion worldwide, representing 9.1% of global air spend!*  So, isn’t it time you, as the travel agent, got a share of this very lucrative pie?

Consumers look to travel agents as the real experts when it comes to booking all types of travel services.  You have the relationships with travel providers, you may have negotiated special rates and you can offer essential peace of mind that everything has been done correctly.  But are you tapping into the merchandising opportunities?

Let us answer some common questions we hear about merchandising on the GDS:

 What exactly do you mean by ancillary services?
These are the extra products or services that turn a basic flight ticket into a personalised trip experience.  They include: seat reservations, onboard meals, extra luggage, priority boarding, pets in cabin, lounge access and much more.  Today, only 13% of adults purchase ancillary services through their travel agent**. The rest are going to the airline directly, so why not capture some of this additional revenue within your agency?

 What exactly do you mean by fare families?
As part of their merchandising strategies, airlines have created ‘fare families’. Within each fare, airlines bundle a number of services, conditions and charges which may appeal to a specific traveller segment (e.g. Emirates have created EcoSaver and EcoFlex fares). With Fare families, travel consultants can select the fare option that best suits each client’s needs.  Often, this might mean selling a higher fare which includes more services – a great way to upsell and earn more revenue for your agency.

 Can I book ancillary services on Amadeus?

Yes, you can.  Amadeus has developed
the technology for you to pre-book seats,
bags, meals, pets and much more in a
quick and  user-friendly manner. You can
also compare what’s included in fares
to find the best ancillary bundle or
‘fare family’ for your clients. All this
is available in your Amadeus ‘seats and
services’ catalogue’ which is built into
the normal booking flow, so  why not
take a look?

We’ve created this website dedicated to merchandising to tell you all about the ancillary services you can book on Amadeus and which airlines offer them.  What’s more, you can use this site as a reference point for training your travel consultants as we will continue to load new content as new airlines come on board and existing carriers increase the range of ancillary services they offer.

      Does it take long to add these services to the booking?

 Rest assured, it doesn’t. In just a few
clicks, you can have the ancillary services
booked and added to the PNR. We  have even
created these short videos to show you how:
Reserve seats, Reserve bags, Upgrade fare
families (cryptic),  Upgrade fare families (GUI).
Additionally on each page on the site you can
download Quick Card guides so you have all
the entries at your fingertips.

      Is there anything in it for me?

Absolutely.  A personalised service means happy customers and repeat bookers.  This helps you build a loyal customer base.  There are also significant revenue opportunities for your agency as you can charge a service or mark-up fee when you add ancillary services to your client’s booking. And you may be able to negotiate better commercial deals with airlines as you will be contributing to their bottom line when you sell ancillaries and higher value fare family bundles.

You already know that every traveller is unique, so use the merchandising opportunities available to you to customise every trip.

      Don’t forget to ask!
So next time you are booking a flight for your client, think merchandising!

1. Would you like me to pre-book your seat?
2. Will you be taking hold luggage?
3. Would you like me to order you a special meal for your journey?
4. Shall I look at a different fare for you which gives you the flexibility and services you need?

Not only could this earn you new revenue, your pro-active customer service will help you to build long-lasting and valuable relationships with your clients.

So why not visit our website today

* Source: IdeaWorksCompany.com
** Source: YouGov Survey 2016

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