XL Travel Masters, the new ITC brand from XL Travel, launched on August 1 following the finalisation of its website, which went live this weekend, and its virtualisation solution that enables ITCs to work remotely on any device.
According to an article on Travel News – XL Travel steps into ITC market (July 9, 2020) – the new brand is a response to the widespread industry problem that has accelerated during the COVID-19 crisis with regard to consultants, in particular senior and experienced travel consultants, who now find themselves without a job after retrenchments.
XL Travel ceo, Marco Ciocchetti, says with agencies trying to survive the crisis by cutting costs, it has become difficult to justify the salary of senior consultants when agencies charge the same transaction fee to clients, irrespective of whether a junior or senior consultant does the work.
“These senior and skilled consultants should now become specialists and charge for their advice and not just the transaction,” he says. “Our ITC model is an opportunity for them to start earning what they deserve to earn and what is difficult for agencies to pay right now.”
Marco says he has not consulted for a while now, but since the pandemic took hold, clients whom he hasn’t heard from in years have been phoning him for help. “Travellers, even if they book themselves online, still want to speak to someone – not a call centre – at any time of the day. This is what XL Travel Masters can offer.”
XL Travel will be selective in the assessment and approval of ITCs, adds Marco. “Consultants who wish to apply should have at least five years’ experience and be available 24/7 to help clients. We are not taking applications from consultants currently employed in existing member agencies.”
The individual ITC will trade under the singular brand of XL Travel Masters, says XL Travel Masters gm, Franz von Wielligh. “The ITCs are available online, but supported through the physical network of members throughout the country if they need or prefer an office environment.”
The standard membership fee is R2 500. ITCs have access to the group’s full technology portfolio, including Travolution, the online booking tool for corporate clients, as well as preferred partner deals, marketing content and a training platform, but the brand will not be in direct competition to other members with its offering, says Marco.
XL Travel Masters provides ITCs with hosted email under the brand offer and connectivity via Dynacomm. If needed, the ITC can have access to a laptop at a separate cost per month. The virtualisation solution includes a server profile and remote desktop connection for each user, GDS as well as other applications.
Franz confirms that there is no commission split, with 100% of the point-of-sale commission going to the ITC, but the model does include a 60/40 split on supplier backend overrides. ITCs also receive GDS segment income. ITCs need to adhere to the processes outlined by the XL Travel Group with regard to securing payments and ensuring bookings.
In the aftermath of the pandemic, Marco says travel professionals need to find the courage to go out there and reshape business models that are no longer sustainable.