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Tour operators and travel agencies: what strategies?

Di Antonio Caneva English translation Paola Pr, 16 Ottobre 2001

I owe to Roberto Gentile – Managing Director of Frigerio Viaggi – the invitation received to participate in the round table on “Consumer evolution and market opportunities: cooperation or conflict?”, which was held on the occasion of the presentation of the survey on travel buying behaviour 2001, carried out by Tradelab. I said that I “owe” him something, because I for once had the opportunity to take part in a true debate rather than a pantomime, as often happens with similar events. The speakers represented the various aspects of the travelling business: tour operators, travel agents, networks, Internet operators – that is, the categories which have been most seriously affected by the recent events, and which are now identifying new strategies to overcome the present vicious crisis Considering the variety of positions and proposed solutions, I had the impression that the crisis now apparent is in fact rooted in the past, and has now reached the moment of truth. Fabrizio Chianello, Marketing Director of Cisalpina Tours: catalogues are of no use, they are an unnecessary cost and it is time to abolish them; Stefano Colombo, Viaggi del Ventaglio: traditional selling is functional, the Internet works well only if it is integrated by a call centre; Roberto Gentile, Frigerio Viaggi: it is time for tour operators to recognise the central role of travel agencies and select who to entrust with their catalogues; Roberto Natali, Trade Marketing Director for Alpitour: the counter-assistant is an opportunity; Loredano Vecchi, H.i.t. Marketing Service Director: (honestly, editor’s note) the tour operator is in fact against the professional role of the agent who must manage the packages in practice; Mirko Zanon, Sales Director of Welcome Travel Group: catalogues are important; if only the operators with the largest financial resources are left, we will lose many professional assets. A number of different ideas have emerged, during an intense discussion which was masterly conducted, reflecting the anxieties of those who have burdensome responsibilities to discharge and maybe – at this moment – not as many viable solutions.

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