Travel agents have numerous options for air consolidators to obtain lower airfares for their clients. Some may offer better airfares than others, but some carriers have less of a reputation. Travel agents have specific consolidators that they have known as reliable and offer lower airfares. Many international seats on flights would not be sold if it weren’t for travel agencies selling excess seats sold by consolidators at much cheaper prices.
Since international airfares are regulated by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), there are different regulations than domestic tickets. The United States Air Consolidators Association (USACA) sells consolidation tickets only through travel agencies. This is a certification that travel agents can seek to ensure that they are selling from a reputable company that adheres to regulations and is responsible for their business practices.
Three requirements to be a member of USACA:
- Each member must make at least $ 20 million annually in air consolidation with regular airlines.
- The consolidator must be incorporated in the United States for at least two years.
- The company never went bankrupt or ceased operations.
USACA Listed Airline Consolidators:
- Brazilian travel service
- C and H International
- Centrav Inc.
- Cosmopolitan travel service
- DFW Tours
- Great vacation
- GTT / GTT Global
- International air consolidators
- Sky Bird Travel
- Trans Am Travel
In addition to these, travel agents have lists of their own trusted consolidators that they have used to good effect in the past. Having multiple consolidators to choose from allows the agent the ability to purchase the best flight schedule and airfares, as well as the best commission or surcharge capacity. USACA offers a form for travel agents to submit online to multiple consolidators at once to purchase flights. USACA also sponsors the new Air Consolidator Specialist Course for Travel Agents, which is also on its website.
Some consolidators have contracts with a limited number of airlines, while others have multiple airline contracts. Other consolidators specialize in different geographic areas of the world. If an agent specializes in travel to Asia, for example, it might be worth getting acquainted with a couple of consolidators who specialize in that area of the world. There are several tour operators that also sell flights only as a consolidator or offer lower airfares with the purchase of a hotel or car package.
Why should travel agencies use consolidators?
- An agent can mark the airfare.
- This offers the possibility of transferring substantial savings to clients.
- Lower airfares can often be obtained for last minute travel for customers, when published airfares are often higher without advance purchase.
- Sometimes the length of stay can be longer with a consolidation ticket.
- Business and first class tickets are often available at rates significantly lower than published rates, giving the customer the opportunity to fly in an upgraded seat for much less money.
The negative aspects of using consolidators can be:
- There are often penalties for larger, non-refundable changes, although many posted airfares are as well.
- Tickets purchased by Consolidator are not added to the airline’s specific revenue for the agency, which may be related to GDS segment sales or cancellations of the airline contracted between an airline and a travel agency.
- Sometimes customers cannot receive frequent flyer miles when using consolidation tickets.
- Agents may not be able to choose specific seats or ask specific questions from the airline, as the consolidator is in control of the reservation, rather than the published airfare purchased from the travel agency.
- There may be an additional fee for using a credit card for payment.
Using consolidators can be a great way to impress customers with lower airfares, particularly for international flights. This can also be a profitable tool for travel agencies, creating a winning situation for clients and travel agencies.