Kuoni has admitted it has had to “patch up” relationships with some agents after doubling its online discount over Easter – but fell short of promising it would not repeat the offer.
Agents hit out after Kuoni chose the Easter weekend – claiming many high street agents were shut – to offer a 10% online discount on selected properties in Sri Lanka, Thailand and the Caribbean for 2011 departures. Kuoni already offers 5% off selected holidays online.
Many agents said it was pointless trying to sell Kuoni while the discount was in place as they could not compete on price.
Derek Jones, distribution and operations vice-president, said: “I understand the reaction of some agents, and there might be some patching up to do, but I’m confident agents who have been supportive of Kuoni over recent years will stick with us.
“Most agents were shut or opening significantly reduced hours, so our view was it was a quiet weekend. Having said that, it is a busy time online and we are competing with suppliers who discount significantly more than we do.”
He denied there was a policy to raise direct sales from the 58% reported a year ago.
Specialist Kuoni agent Nick McKay, managing director of Travel Designers, said: “Customers said they will wait to see if Kuoni do the discount online again this weekend.”
However, Jones told Travel Weekly: “The 10% offer won’t be repeated this weekend. We are happy to withdraw from this activity until we have discussed our approach with our trade partners.”
Barry Moxley, managing director of seven-branch agency Traveltime, said: “It’s not commercially viable to support these companies.”
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