Thomas Cook price parity sparks rise in indie agents’ sales
Cook introduced price parity across its shops, call centres and online in December. This allowed third-party agents to compete with the operator as the difference between Cook’s prices and independent agents’ narrowed.
In the coming weeks, the company plans to extend price parity to include sales through independents.
Hays Travel Independence Group has reported triple-digit percentage growth in sales of Thomas Cook holidays for summer 2013, while Advantage Travel Centres has reported a strong post-Christmas performance.
For years, online discounts have been a bugbear for independents because they could not compete on price and were forced to discount commission to win a sale.
Hays attributed its sales hike to Cook’s move towards price parity and the fact it had gained members who are strong sellers of Cook holidays.
Advantage head of commercial John Sullivan said consumers were shopping around less because prices differed “only by a few pounds”.
He added: “While price parity is not yet 100%, it’s now a lot easier for members to compete.”
It is understood Cook is also reviewing levels of commission to third-party agents.
A spokesman for Thomas Cook said: “Following the launch of price parity, we’ve received fantastic feedback and we’ve seen an increase in sales through our agent partners.
“Our commercial agreements remain confidential, but there is no intention to reduce income levels; we’re maintaining a level playing field so they can match our retail and online pricing.”