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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  24 Aug 2011

TOURISM: Travel Agent Sentiment Explored

 



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The success of any travel retail consortium is dependent on a wide range of attributes such as the need to grow its members’ businesses, the negotiation of beneficial preferred partner deals and the provision of effective marketing support.

These were some of the major requirements of a travel retail consortium highlighted by franchisees in research conducted by South African Travel Centre (SATC) earlier this year. Other necessary characteristics included loyal and knowledgeable staff, good business ethics, enhanced buying power, brand awareness, relationship building and ongoing support.

SATC marketing manager Tshepiso Malele says SATC wanted to validate – in a structured and formalised way – what challenges its franchisees were experiencing in the market place and whether they were happy with the service they were receiving from the consortium. “This was a significant and robust research project aimed at gaining deep insight into our franchisee base,” he says.

Not only did SATC glean insight from its travel management partners, it got an accurate snapshot of the industry as a whole. “The insights we got from our franchisees gave us a glimpse into what the entire industry is experiencing and what is valued most from a consortium such as ourselves,” says Malele.

Qualitative research was conducted in the form of an online survey followed by focus groups run by an independent facilitator. “Feedback from our initial online survey helped us formulate a discussion guide for the focus group sessions, which we conducted in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town,” says Malele.

From a market place perspective franchisees reported that while market conditions in 2010 were challenging, they managed to weather the storm. Sentiment for 2011 was mixed, but with signs of optimism.

Interestingly, many franchisees had been approached to join competitor travel retail groups, but had remained with SATC for many of the reasons mentioned above, as well as its competitive cost of membership.

Malele says conducting the survey was an important exercise for SATC. “It has given our franchisees a voice in running the business and provided us with insight into what is important to them.



 
 
 
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