The Ins and Outs of Working with Airlines:

How Airline Consolidators Help Travel Agents

Working in the travel industry is rewarding, but it’s also highly competitive. When it comes time to book your client’s trip, you need to have all the expertise you can get. Working with an airline consolidator helps travel agents navigate the inner-workings of airlines and the travel industry as a whole by providing agents with special rates, discounts, tickets, and insights.

What is an airline consolidator

You might have heard the term before, but perhaps you’re unfamiliar with the concept. Airline consolidators purchase tickets in bulk from airlines. They in turn resell the tickets for a discounted rate to travel agents. This benefits both the travel agents, who get airfare at 40 – 60% off published rates, and the airlines, who get better awareness of ticket options, flight routes, and services. The benefit to the agents is that they can make a good commission and still provide savings to the client. In the same way that travel agents provide insider knowledge to their clients, so too can airline consolidators provide travel agents with their own expertise.

Airline Consolidators can secure more space

If you’re just starting out in the travel industry, you probably haven’t built up much of a rapport with the airlines. So when you are in desperate need of a few extra tickets for a large group booking, it can be difficult to pull strings. Airline consolidators, however, have long-standing partnerships with airlines – some of them going back decades. As such, airlines will often sell higher numbers of tickets to consolidators.

For instance: under normal circumstances, an airline might only sell 20 seats at a time. If a travel agent needs 25 seats, they may have difficulty securing those last five tickets. However, that same airline might sell 30 tickets at a time to a consolidator. Therefore, it greatly behooves the agent to purchase through the consolidator.

Consolidators have special rates and discounts

Sometimes consolidators will negotiate special deals with airlines that you won’t find anywhere else. This could be anything from a percentage off specific routes, free meals, or free bags. Working with a consolidator allows you to have special access to these deals and pass along the perks to your clients.

Consolidators provide special incentives

Going off what was said above, in addition to providing special deals, consolidators can often have special incentives as well. An airline might, for example, have a limited time incentive where tickets booked through a specific consolidator might earn the travel agent an additional percentage commission.

Airline Consolidators provide expertise, just like travel agents

Why do clients use travel agents? Because travel agents have infinitely more knowledge of the travel industry. It provides a sense of security. Flight cancelled? No problem, the travel agent will take care of it. Need special accommodations at the hotel?  Just let the travel agent know. Not sure what cool activities there are to do at a vacation spot? Ask the agent! There’s a reason that even in a digital age, where anyone can book their vacation online, more and more people are turning to travel agents. They provide so many benefits to the traveler!

In much the same way, airline consolidators provide insider knowledge to the travel agent. Consolidators not only know how to snag the best deal on airfare, they can actually help you plan an itinerary.

Has this happened to you? A client comes to you with a basic idea of what they’d like to see and do on their vacation but they expect you to fill in the blank parts of their itinerary. Maybe you’re very familiar with one leg of the trip but not another part. After all, just because you’re a travel agent doesn’t mean you’re an expert on every country or vacation spot. You’ll have to do some research in order to make the clients happy. This is where the airline consolidator comes in. Chances are, they’ll be able to help you plan an itinerary whether you have empty days that need activities or you’re starting at square one. Airline consolidators will help you figure out the minute details just as you help your clients!

The Takeaway

Just as travel agents provide clients with their expertise and insight, so too do airline consolidators provide their knowledge to travel agents. Whether it’s a special deal, extra tickets, incentives, or even itinerary planning, airline consolidators pass on their industry wisdom to travel agents. Before you book your next client, put an airline consolidator to work for you!

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