Chapter 7. Travel Services
Travellers continue to seek authentic experiences. The tools they use to research and book these experiences are constantly changing due to innovations in technology. Destinations are also challenged by limited financial resources and strong competition for tourist dollars from other iconic and even lesser known locations. The personalisation of travel suggests that independent travel will have a stronger presence than group travel, however, we must always consider the type of traveller. The travel services sector is being forced to innovate at a startling rate.
In the past, face to face consultations with a travel agent was paramount for booking both leisure and business travel. Technology and global circumstances, such as pandemics, financial collapses, and terrorism, have put pressure on tourism and travel services. With the development of OTAs and emerging and disruptive technologies, the travel services landscape is constantly changing.
So far we have discussed the elements of the five sectors of tourism: transportation, accommodation, food and beverage, recreation and entertainment, and travel services. With this foundation in place, let’s delve deeper into the industry by learning more about how these sectors are promoted to customers in Chapter 8 on services marketing.
- Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA): a trade organization established in 1977 to ensure high standards of customer service, engage in advocacy for the trade, conduct research, and facilitate travel agent training
- Canada’s West Marketplace: a partnership between Destination BC and Travel Alberta, showcasing BC travel products in a business-to-business sales environment
- Canadian Association of Tour Operators (CATO): a membership-based organization that serves as the voice of the tour operator segment and engages in professional development and networking in the sector
- Community destination marketing organization (CDMO): a DMO that represents a city or town
- Destination management company (DMC): a company that creates and executes corporate travel and event packages designed for employee rewards or special retreats
- Destination marketing organizations (DMOs): also known as destination management organizations; includes national tourism boards, state/provincial tourism offices, and community convention and visitor bureaus
- Familiarization tours (FAMs): tours provided to overseas travel agents, travel agencies, RTOs, and others to provide information about a certain product at no or minimal cost to participants — the short form is pronounced like the start of the word family (not as each individual letter)
- Fully independent traveller (FIT): a traveller who makes his or her own arrangements for accommodations, transportation, and tour components; is independent of a group
- HelloBC: online travel services platform of Destination BC providing information to the visitor and potential visitor for trip planning purposes
- Inbound tour operator: an operator who packages products together to bring visitors from external markets to a destination
- Online travel agent (OTA): a service that allows the traveller to research, plan, and purchase travel without the assistance of a person, using the internet on sites such as Expedia.ca or Hotels.com
- Outbound tour operator: an operator who packages and sells travel products to people within a destination who want to travel abroad
- Receptive tour operator (RTO): someone who represents the products of tourism suppliers to tour operators in other markets in a business-to-business (B2B) relationship
- Regional destination marketing organization (RDMO): in BC, one of the five DMOs that represent a specific tourism region
- Tour operator: an operator who packages suppliers together (hotel + activity) or specializes in one type of activity or product
- Tourism services: other services that work to support the development of tourism and the delivery of guest experiences
- Travel agency: a business that provides a physical location for travel planning requirements
- Travel agent: an individual who helps the potential traveller with trip planning and booking services, often specializing in specific types of travel
- Travel services: under NAICS, businesses and functions that assist with the planning and reserving components of the visitor experience
- Visitor centre: a building within a community usually placed at the gateway to an area, providing information regarding the region, travel planning tools, and other services including washrooms and Wi-Fi
- Explain, either in words or with a diagram, the relationship between an RTO, tour operator, and travel agent.
- What type of services does HelloBC provide to the traveller? List regional services from your area that are currently offered.
- Who operates the provincial network of Visitor Centres? Where are these centres located?
- List the RDMOs operating within BC. How do each of these work to provide information to the traveller?
- List two positives and two negatives of OTAs within the travel services industry.
- With an increase growth in mobile technology, how are travel services adapting to suit the needs and/or demands of the traveller?
- Choose an association that is representative of the sector you might like to work in (e.g., accommodations, food and beverage, travel services). Explore the association’s website and note three key issues it has identified and how it is responding to them.
- Choose a local tourism or hospitality business and find out which associations it belongs to. List the associations and their membership benefits to answer the question, Why belong to this group?
Case Study One: BC Government Response to COVID-19 for Community Destination Marketing Organizations that participate in the Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI)
Read the news release B.C. government announces over $10 million for resort municipalities.
- Will or was this response be enough for the DMO’s to sustain themselves?
- Will or was tourists return to these iconic BC tourism sites?
- What was the impact to the local economies at these RMI destinations?
Case Study Two: Travel Agencies Operating in British Columbia
Consumer protection is a key part of provincial and federal government departments. The travel industry in BC is licensed through the provincial governments Consumer Protection BC.
Research the website listed above to prepare a report on how this department protects travellers based on the BC Travel Industry Act.
Case Study Three: Online Travel Agents Sue Skiplagger.com
In late 2014, an online travel agent and airline combined forces to sue a 22-year-old and his company Skiplagged.com. Skiplagged helped users find less expensive flights by uncovering “hidden city” tickets. These are flights with stopovers in multiple locations, whereby the passenger gets off at one of the stopover cities rather than the final destination (Harris and Sasso, 2014). Hidden city tickets work when the cost to travel from point A to point B to point C is less expensive than a trip from point A to point B. Passengers book the entire flight but get off at the stopover. This practice is generally forbidden by airlines because of safety concerns and challenges to logistics as it renders passenger counts inaccurate, causing potential delays and fuel miscalculations. If discovered, it can result in a passenger having his or her ticket voided.
The lawsuit against Skiplagged founder Aktarer Zaman stated that the site “intentionally and maliciously … [promoted] prohibited forms of travel” (Harris and Sasso, 2014). Orbitz (an OTA) and United Airlines claimed that Zaman’s website unfairly competed with their business, while making it appear these companies were partners and endorsing the activity by linking to their websites.
Based on this case summary, answer the following questions:
- What are the dangers and inconveniences of having passengers deplane partway through a voyage? In addition to those listed here, come up with two more.
- Could this lawsuit and the ensuing publicity result in unintended negative consequences for United and Orbitz? What might these be?
- On the other hand, could the suit have unintended positive results for Skiplagged.com? Try to name at least three.
- Should Zaman be held responsible for facilitating this type of travel already in practice? Or should passengers bear the responsibility? Why or why not?
- Imagine your flight is delayed because a passenger count is inaccurate and fuel must be recalculated. What action would you take, if any?
- Look up the case to see what updates are available (United Airlines Inc. v. Zaman, 14-cv-9214, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago). Was the outcome what you predicted? Why or why not?
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