The present exploratory research study aims to investigate the characteristics of the relationships between travel agencies and tour operators. Through an empirical analysis, we highlight the weight, the number, and the duration of the relationships that are created in the Italian tourism intermediation system. We also look at the most important factors driving them, trying to understand if there are any areas of potential conflict and/or cooperation between travel agents and tour operators. The empirical research was conducted on a sample of Italian travel agencies (202 agencies interviewed, covering all of the regions in Italy). The study opted for a quantitative approach by sending an on-line questionnaire to travel agents. The interviewees were contacted by e-mail. The results show that, although the products supplied by TOs are fundamental to the realization of TA turnover (60% turnover on average, through the sale of TO products), in most cases the channel relationships are of short duration and highly variable. We surmise and this probably means that the vertical channel relationships do not sufficiently exploit areas of potential cooperation. The TAs indicated that when they select their TO supplier, the two most important factors in the selection process are the quality and level of customization of products (48.5%) and the economic margins of intermediation (37.8%). So, tour operators are obliged to pay great attention to these key factors in order to create and maintain strong durable relationships. If one also considers that travel agencies play an important role in tourists’ procurement processes, it becomes evident that the power balance within the channel is weak, caused by both the horizontal competition from OLTAs (on-line travel agencies) and the greater and greater disintermediation processes (Calveras, 2006; Pencarelli, 2010) that are taking place. This creates a situation where, although tour operators are obliged to cooperate with travel retailers that represent the most important market segment, they attempt an opportunistic exploitation of their stronger contractual position within the tourism value chain. Despite the limitation resulting from the fact that most of the questionnaires were self-compiled on-line which leads to a phenomenon of self-selection of respondents, the research highlights some interesting findings and managerial challenges for Italian TOs.

The tourism intermediation system: the relationship between travel agencies and tour operator

Tonino Pencarelli;Mauro Dini
2016-01-01

Abstract

The present exploratory research study aims to investigate the characteristics of the relationships between travel agencies and tour operators. Through an empirical analysis, we highlight the weight, the number, and the duration of the relationships that are created in the Italian tourism intermediation system. We also look at the most important factors driving them, trying to understand if there are any areas of potential conflict and/or cooperation between travel agents and tour operators. The empirical research was conducted on a sample of Italian travel agencies (202 agencies interviewed, covering all of the regions in Italy). The study opted for a quantitative approach by sending an on-line questionnaire to travel agents. The interviewees were contacted by e-mail. The results show that, although the products supplied by TOs are fundamental to the realization of TA turnover (60% turnover on average, through the sale of TO products), in most cases the channel relationships are of short duration and highly variable. We surmise and this probably means that the vertical channel relationships do not sufficiently exploit areas of potential cooperation. The TAs indicated that when they select their TO supplier, the two most important factors in the selection process are the quality and level of customization of products (48.5%) and the economic margins of intermediation (37.8%). So, tour operators are obliged to pay great attention to these key factors in order to create and maintain strong durable relationships. If one also considers that travel agencies play an important role in tourists’ procurement processes, it becomes evident that the power balance within the channel is weak, caused by both the horizontal competition from OLTAs (on-line travel agencies) and the greater and greater disintermediation processes (Calveras, 2006; Pencarelli, 2010) that are taking place. This creates a situation where, although tour operators are obliged to cooperate with travel retailers that represent the most important market segment, they attempt an opportunistic exploitation of their stronger contractual position within the tourism value chain. Despite the limitation resulting from the fact that most of the questionnaires were self-compiled on-line which leads to a phenomenon of self-selection of respondents, the research highlights some interesting findings and managerial challenges for Italian TOs.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11576/2659418
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