I was talking with Roberto Gentile, the Director of Frigerio Viaggi and a connoisseur of the world of travels and travel agencies, who drew my attention – in this autumn which is announcing itself to be rather “cold” – to the many problems on the table still in need of a definition. Generally speaking, we often say that the world has changed, but when we look at it in concrete terms and analyse the problems, we become aware – often to our dismay – o the amount of effort and flexibility we should expend to cope with an unprecedented situation, which is no doubt going to impact on our way of working.
Here are some of the questions Roberto Gentile pointed out to me: Has the reduction in airfare commissions and the consequent application of agency rights truly harmed travel agencies, or has it favoured the best organised and most dynamic? Do Italian travel agencies believe that we can do without Alitalia, or are they prepared – as citizens, too – to pay the cost of supporting a national airline that has technically failed? Are low-cost airlines opponents, tepid friends or potential allies of travel agencies? Web agencies and Google: does it still make sense to book a farm stay on Expedia or lastminute.com, when by entering “agritourism” on Google you find 2,680,000 search results in 0.33 seconds? Organised distribution is falling apart (we have several recent examples): long live the traditional agency? Holiday villages: a mature product or the optimum solution for a growing target (families, couples, the young)? Are quality and price mutually exclusive in tour packages? “Alpitour, the number one tour operator in Italy, ranks 21st in Europe. We need to make an effort, like in France and in Spain, to create an aggregation of operators in order to promote the Country, because if an Italian operator takes tourists to the Caribbean, he will make money, but the Country will lose money. We do not have any operators with the exclusive mission of selling the product ‘Italy'” said Mr. Caputi, Managing Director of Sviluppo Italia, at the Bocconi University; but this, too, is debatable.
This is what has emerged from my short conversation with Roberto Gentile: questions that need to be answered, because more pressing questions are at the doors.
Translation of the Italian
editorial by Paola Praloran