Tuesday, October 27, 2009

BCAA Travel Closes Internet Bookings Blamed

Association to continue offering travel services online and by phone

BCAA will significantly scale back its travel agency services, closing its storefront travel operations in all locations, effective January 15, 2010. BCAA Travel will continue to offer services to travel customers by phone, via its Burnaby-based customer contact centre, and online, via its travel booking services on www.bcaa.com.

The decision to close storefront travel operations does not affect other BCAA divisions, and all 27 BCAA locations will remain open to serve members and customers in other areas. Those include insurance (including travel medical insurance), membership, retail and auto travel services consisting of maps, TourBooks, CampBooks and TripTik route planning. BCAA's roadside assistance services are also unaffected by this decision.

BCAA will ensure all existing travel bookings are fulfilled and that sufficient staff are available to meet customer needs through to the completion of their travel plans. No new travel bookings will be accepted in BCAA storefront locations after November 28, 2009.

The decision to significantly scale back BCAA's travel offerings was driven by fundamental changes in the travel industry, explains President and CEO, Bill Bullis.

"The decline of agency commissions has made it very difficult to operate an independent travel agency model profitably," says Bullis. "What's more, the emergence of the internet has enabled suppliers to cut distribution costs by selling directly to customers, and increased the comfort of consumers to do their own trip-planning and booking. Travel revenues have been steadily declining, and BCAA has been unable to operate travel profitably for several years."

Whereas 15 years ago virtually all vacation and airline tickets were sold through travel agents or in person direct, today most of these transactions are completed online. Travel industry studies in Canada and the U.S. report that online bookings (direct-to-supplier, metasearch sites and online travel agencies) account for anywhere from 64% to 84% of total bookings. Supplier direct sales today account for 45 per cent of all travel bookings.*

Today's decision will result in the elimination of 157 full-time and part-time positions, 124 in BCAA's sales centre network and 33 at the association's head office in Burnaby.

A total of 6 employees will be affected by the closure in the Nanaimo BCAA travel office.


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1 comment:

  1. The decline of agency commissions has made it very difficult to operate an independent travel agency model profitably. This so true.

    ReplyDelete

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