More and more travel agents are looking to dynamic packaging, but some still find the process a mystery. Linda Fox puts the pieces of the jigsaw together
It was late 2001 when the phrase ‘dynamic packaging’ started to be bandied about in the travel industry.
The Online Travel Corporation is generally credited with coming up with the first ‘build-your-own’ technology, although Expedia was a pretty close second. From there, momentum built as demand from consumers grew.
The internet had shown the breadth of holiday choice out there and provided them with an easy means of shopping around. The big brands needed to react and began looking at ways of breaking down traditional packages to offer individual components as well.
The internet also brought about price transparency and drove competition in the market and therefore, decreased margins.
Fast forward to 2008 and ABTA predicts the majority of its agents are now engaged in some form of dynamic packaging, but definitions of what it is still vary hugely.
What does dynamic packaging mean?
It depends who you ask, but most agree that a dynamic package is a series of elements that make up a holiday – flight, accommodation, car hire, transfers, attraction tickets and excursions – that are drawn together on the spot, either online by the consumer, or via a call centre, shop or homeworker.
Long-established independent agents say dynamic packaging is just the tailor-making they have been doing for years. However, there seems to have been a shift from using tour operator product to tailor-make holidays towards use of single-component suppliers.
Where most of the confusion seems to lie is in how to get started – what technology to use, what suppliers to choose, how to work within the law and how to make money. These are the key reasons why experts believe many agents have not embraced dynamic packaging.
Youtravel.com sales and marketing director Paul Riches said: “To start with, dynamic packaging is hard to do and there’s nothing easier than picking up a brochure, choosing a hotel and booking it for the customer.”
Attraction World sales and marketing director Tony Seaman added that agents are also put off because the suppliers they want to sell are not yet available on the technology systems.