Yes, of course it does, but as much as it should?
When you think of the number of travel directories and websites available to travelers you would think that this is a world free of the normal conventions of business but unfortunately it is often bound by restrictions that travelers would not appreciate. Pricing of travel is one of the conventions that are not yet totally free of restrictions and understandably so due to distribution considerations.
Travel businesses using the traditional distribution chains for the sale of their products need to allow for the payments of commission to various levels of middlemen, Inbound Tour Operators, Wholesalers and Retailers, all who need to take a percentage for their efforts in enabling travel services and products to reach the consumer.
Websites however, reach directly to consumers and enable them to make direct bookings with travel providers but they can still incur the costs attributed to these middlemen. But, to place a two-tier price for each product could deter the agents from representing products so a new way had to be found. This is where TopTravelSites stepped in with their newly developed service for the travel provider who wants to continue with the traditional supply chain but also wants to encourage travelers who are comfortable with making their own arrangements directly with providers and who do not need the services of travel agents, just the internet.
The service called TopTravelVouchers gives travelers a ‘fair fare price’ on direct bookings but the provider still incurs the cost of commission.
This new price format is achieved by the travel operator issuing a voucher in exchange for marketing, promotion and deliverance of travelers directly to their websites to make their bookings. The voucher is sold to travelers at deeply discounted prices to their redemption values enabling the traveler to be the beneficiary of a ‘nearly net’ price for the travel package or service. The operator of TopTravelVouchers does not have the normal costs that are attributable to retail and wholesale agents such as shops, reservation systems, brochures and high staffing and is thus able to encourage travelers to book directly with their clients and to get a price saving for their efforts. It is in effect a travel agent that does not sell travel, only travel vouchers, which are to be used towards travel purchased from the travel companies who are participating in the service.
Many travel businesses do not use middlemen, often due to the small size of their travel operation, but they would still be prepared to pay a commission or fee for a referral or a sale. They still need to make travelers aware of their products and services and to be able to offer encouragement and a reward gives them an opportunity to reach out to travelers who prefer to deal directly with operators.
There are thousands of smaller travel businesses around the world ranging from B&B’s, Family Boutique Hotels, Small Tour Operators, Adventure and Eco Tours that are rarely seen by the vast majority of travelers. These operators are not found in the glossy travel brochures or represented by travel agents but they often have excellent products and services which can be seen on their websites. Many of them are willing to pay a commission to a seller of their products but are not able to get travel agent representation. This new voucher system allows them to encourage and reward travelers who prefer to handle their own arrangements directly with the operators by offering a price that reflects discounted commission costs and thus savings for the do-it-yourself traveler.
TopTravelVouchers sell at three price levels according to the savings on each: $30, $50 or $100usd or equivalent currency if purchased outside of the USA. They may often be purchased in multiples, benefiting families or groups and at the time of this article there was a voucher costing $100usd with a value of 1,500euros (around $2,000usd) offered on a small ship cruise in Greece that is also a small travel operator not normally represented by the agency system.
Travelers are given 100% money-back guarantees if the vouchers are not used within 1 year of issue but maybe this should be for two years as the vouchers are normally valid for 2 years. Even after the completion of travel and travelers are unhappy with the quality, the voucher cost is reimbursed by TopTravelSites and the problem taken up with the travel operator.
It is obvious that this service will only work for TopTravelSites if supported by the world of travel providers who need to expand their representation as the retention of only a small percentage on each sale needs to be followed by high volumes of voucher sales but it is a unique service offering benefits to both travelers and the smaller travel businesses in the travel industry utilising the logical use of the internet for direct bookings.