Agents and operators say ‘no need for undercutting’

The trade is being urged to avoid undercutting major operators during the peak season.

The calls follow advertisements by travel agencies to beat Tui’s and Jet2holidays’ prices. It comes as some agents report more consumers asking agents to price match.

Jet2holidays said it continued to see “great demand” through agents but warned against assuming clients wanted more money off.

MoreAgent Diary: Why I’m not fazed by rival agents offering to ‘beat any price’

A spokesperson said: “Our total focus continues to be on supporting independent agency partners with everything they need to drive sales and enjoy mutual success, as opposed to dictating what price agents must sell at.

“We believe our award-winning product and service, on top of £60 per person off all holidays booked via an expert independent agent, is the best way to achieve this, as opposed to presuming customers are always looking for additional discounts.”

The operator’s statement followed an advert by miniple Polka Dot Travel offering to beat Jet2holidays’ prices. The ad, which urged clients to “take a screenshot of your Jet2holidays quote and we’ll beat it”, has since been taken down.

In a statement, director Mark Johnson suggested the ad was not designed to increase market share.

“Whether it is peaks or not, we constantly monitor the marketplace and act accordingly,” he said.

“We’re delighted with January peaks so far. Sales are very strong and our margins are very good. We are more than happy with the balance.”

Tui’s reaction to agents undercutting its online prices was to write a strongly-worded letter to trade partners. It told agents any price beating of its online prices was in “direct competition” with its pricing strategy and that “promoting a price-beating message is not acceptable”. It warned commissions could be reduced as a result.

In an apparent U-turn, it subsequently released a statement saying it was “thrilled to be working closely with independent agents” but reiterating the view that agents should not need to discount its products.

It said: “Agents can of course discount as they see fit; however, we hope our great products, promo codes and low deposits will support them in achieving sales conversion.”

Agents said they understood the need to maintain pricing levels.

Travel Bureau joint managing director Jeanne Lally said: “Our policy is not to undercut the operator. We are in business to make money.”

Oasis Travel director Heidi Evans agreed: “We will not go below an operator’s web price; it’s not worth it.”

TravelTime World director Jackie Steadman said discounting remained an issue, but mainly by direct-sell operators such as BA Holidays and Virgin Atlantic Holidays offering prices agents could not compete with.

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