A New Role for Travel Agents

A New Role for Travel Agents

by Terrance Rey

Redefining the Travel Agency role with a Renewed Legitimacy in Aviation

With the present crisis in the airline travel industry with rising fuel costs, rising airline ticket prices and skyrocketing airport fees, a new role for Travel Agents is worth considering that would alleviate redundancy and improve efficiency in the aviation sector.

I would like to propose the Virtual Airline business model as the solution for improving efficiencies in airline travel industry and in the aviation sector and also as a means of countering the demise of the travel agency in the supply chain of airline reservations and ticketing services.

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The Virtual Airline is a valid business model and allows airlines and charter companies to work together without the formal, bureacratic and complex rules and regulations regarding codesharing and interlining as set down by IATA. The key is in the reservations processing and ticketing.
For a virtual airline business model to work efficiently, you need 4 partners in the model:

  • an airline or charter company with landingrights;
  • you need an aircraft operator with an AOC (which is basically a license to fly);
  • you need an airport handling agent to handle the passengers and the luggage for you; and finally
  • you need a coordinating entity (in charge of reservations, ticketing and overseeing operations).

With the diversified and widespread island nations throughout the Caribbean with their own identities, cultures and national governments, it is hard to create a unified Caribbean airline. But with a virtual airline operation you can create a Caribbean-wide network by working with partners and be able to provide the same service of full-fledge airline company without the overhead, top heaviness and bureacracy.
An example of this is the Pan Caribbean Alliance (PCA) whereby Winair (WM), Curacao's Inselair (7I), Suriname Airways (SLM) and the Venezuelan Conviasa (V0) are attempting to create a network of seamless connections on all their flights and offering these connections as one flight on one ticket.
So one would be able to fly from St. Barths (SBH) to St. Maarten (SXM) on Winair and from SXM to Curacao (CUR) with Inselair and from CUR to Suriname or Venezuela with respectively SLM (PY) or Conviasa on one PCA eticket.

The problem is that these airlines have not yet nor can not yet decide who the coordinating entity will be (who will basically be the one in charge of PCA). I suggest that Travel Agencies fulfil this coordinating role. With a Travel Agency at the center of the Virtual Airline network operation the new position will help to redefine the role and give the Travel Agent a renewed legitimacy in the aviation sector.

Previous articles in this series:

Introduction of the Virtual Airline Business Model

The next articles in this series:

Introducing the Need for Caribbean Airline Aviation Alliance

Coming soon: "Incentivization As Another Key Element To Resolve The Practical Issues Surrounding The Virtual Airline Model"

Terrance Rey is owner and operator of AirStMaarten, Caribbean's first virtual airline based in St. Maarten; organizing and coordinating commercial flights, shared charters and private charters to and from St. Maarten, St. Barths, Anguilla, Antigua, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao and throughout the rest of the Caribbean.

Terrance Rey - Owner and CEO

"Call me today to book your next private charter. I am available 24/7 to take your call via (011)599-581-9740."



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