Interview

TUI Germany chief praises travel agents but wants more new customers

German travel agents are very good at keeping customers but not so good at winning new ones, according to TUI Germany chief Marek Andryszak.

November 30, 2017
TUI Germany chief Marek Andryszak
Photo: Christian Wyrwa

Travel agents remain top priority for German market leader TUI due to their vital importance as the dominant sales channel. TUI will continue to sell primarily through travel agents on the German market, the Polish-born manager emphasised in an interview with fvw sister publication Travel Talk. “We are there where our customers are, and in Germany 80% of them book our offers through travel agents,” he made clear.

In contrast to Poland, which is “very digital”, the situation in Germany is very different, the former TUI Poland md explained. “I can only be as digital as a country, its culture and the customers are,” he commented. “That is why travel distribution is structured differently here. TUI cannot be as successful as it is today in Germany without travel agents. That is why travel agencies will still play a central role for TUI Germany in future.”

Andryszak also recounted his observations and conclusions from recently spending three days working in three TUI travel agencies in Berlin to experience the everyday work of counter staff for himself. “I observed 17 or 18 customer consultations. It was very educational,” he commented.

The TUI Germany chief emphasised that many loyal customers had been “very warmly” personally welcomed in the agencies, contrasting this with the anonymity of OTAs. “Every online portal can only envy travel agents for these customers. They have a gigantic advantage,” he emphasised.

However, regular customers will not be enough for the future, he said. “You need new customers as well. And I think that travel agents can learn a few things here from online sales channels.”

With most customers today starting their holiday research on the internet, this is where travel agents will have to find and win new customers, he claimed. “You need the right visibility and the right contents. A global brand like TUI helps enormously with this. And it has to be simple for customers, with the right user-friendliness. This is how travel agents can win new customers – and then get them to come to the branch.”

Andryszak said he wanted to work together with travel agencies to combine online and offline sales strategies more strongly with a range of different measures. One example is the new myTUI app function, which proactively sends offers to smartphone users when they are within 500 metres of a TUI travel agency.

“The first results show that about 30% of those who received a message found their way to the travel agency. And about 100% of them were new customers for the travel agency,” he underlined.

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