Tropical Travelers — The preferred supplier conundrum | TravelResearchOnline


Tropical Travelers — The preferred supplier conundrum

Loyalty. It’s a strong word. Being loyal to one tour operator can make for a strong business relationship; but is it always the right way to do business? I’ve worked with the same tour operator for 95% of my reservations for nearly ten years. I do it because I believe in their product, their service and just generally like working with them. So when a client asks about a hotel that is not represented by that company, which direction do I go?

I could advise them that I don’t work with that hotel often, but another hotel (carried by my preferred tour operator) would be a perfect fit. Or I could book directly with the hotel if I’m familiar with this resort. Or I could look to another tour operator with whom I work occasionally. Of course, the bottom line is that we are in the business to make money, so I need to make sure there will still be commission payments no matter which way I go. But I struggle with moving business away from my preferred supplier. I need to stay true to the client’s wishes, but also feel very strongly about aligning myself with a good company that I know will offer the support both my client and I need.

So, here’s the question–do I put all my eggs in one basket or spread it around a bit? Admittedly, there are three or four good tour operators I can use. I feel comfortable with them for my clients, but I always head back to my preferred supplier because:

  1. They offer a great commission
  2. Their customer service is outstanding
  3. Their overall booking system is very good.

I wrestle with this question often because I think it might be better to have a few good companies behind you instead of just one. But, I’ve also never come up with any issues with bookings with non-preferred suppliers to know how their customer service would be should we need them. Which brings me back to my top choice.

As for booking directly with the hotel, sure sometimes you have to, but why make 10% commission when you don’t have to? Does it make me less of a consultant if I always book through a tour operator?  I don’t think so because I still have to take the client’s criteria and piece together the puzzle that ultimately becomes their vacation. Would it benefit me to have a rapport with the hotel and go direct or stay with the tried and true and deal specifically with the tour operator?

Jennifer Byrne is the owner of The Tropical Travelers ( in Malvern, PA. For more information, you can contact Jennifer at

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  One thought on “Tropical Travelers — The preferred supplier conundrum

  1. I think travel agents need to have the best interest of their clients in mind with all transactions. Yes, we are in business to make money and some ways of booking things are easier than others. When you hire a consultant to make recommendations and act on your behalf do you want them to do what is best for you or easiest/most profitable for them? If selling away from this vendor decreases your profit you could always add a fee to book what they really want. Otherwise, you are just an agency representing one supplier.

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