MTA – Mobile Travel Agents’ co-managing director, Roy Merricks has labelled comments inferring travel agents and travel advisors’ positions are being eroded at the expense of Online Travel Agents (OTAs) as, in his opinion, a “furphy”.
Speaking from the company’s national Head Office on the Gold Coast, Mr Merricks has queried whether OTAs such as Webjet and similar organisations should even be considered as de facto travel agents or travel advisers.
“Any OTA promoting itself as a travel agent or travel advisor could be construed as “potentially misleading,” Mr Merricks said.
“OTAs don’t deliver the products or complete services provided by a credentialed national agency, such as MTA, with true connections and support for clients on the ground globally.”
Mr Merricks said that while originally, OTAs had specialised in either flights or hotel reservations, over the years they have generally added to that base to include other land content designed to broaden their appeal.
“The misnomer is they are effectively promoting themselves as an online version of a traditional travel agent - without a shop - and therefore suggesting they are more readily available,” he said.
“Nothing is further from the truth and it is, in my opinion, potentially misleading when OTAs promote themselves as a travel agent or travel advisor in the sense of the words understood by consumers.
“At the end of the day the travel distribution system, travel agents and travel advisors are alive and growing well.
“OTA’s should perhaps be more aptly described as Online Travel Algorithms - let’s see them for what they really are.”