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Travel Agency Productivity and Their Use of Technology.

D'Souza, Gayatri. (1991) Travel Agency Productivity and Their Use of Technology. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey (United Kingdom)..

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Abstract

The main aims of the research were to measure the productivity, examine a range of functional patterns, infer on the determinants of labour productivity and the factors that effect its improvement, focusing on any impact from technology, in UK travel agencies. Labour Productivity was defined as value added per head. The travel agent was chosen as the unit of study for various reasons including the paucity of data on agency behaviour, and recent industry trends heralding a change in the agent's very nature and role. These trends included the increasing competitiveness of principals' reservation systems and its impact on travel retailing. A series of contentions were identified from extensive data searches. These were formulated into seventeen research hypotheses within the framework of which, the nature, behaviour and productivity of travel agents could be examined. Suitable statistical methods were chosen and a sample survey was designed, for the purpose of collecting the relevant data. The empirical evidence collected from the respondents (numbering 494) revealed important facts about agency behaviour. A region of particular interest was the capacity the agents had to influence a customer's choice to buy particular products. Other salient points were the invisible bias forced on agents by technology and the variances between business and leisure agents. These areas were investigated further by time and motion studies, undertaken in collaboration with Air Research Ltd. The main research findings indicated that travel agents only sold the standard products. They did not exercise their influence to translate client enquiries into bookings with chosen principals. Systems penetration was mainly in the front-office, but findings revealed that agents did not fully exploit the applications of the systems installed. The introduction of systems was however considered a necessity by most agents. Agents did realise that preferential selling would have to be practised to obtain override, and this challenges the premise that travel agents are neutral. Travel agency profitability and turnover figures were relatively low. Staff had minimal educational qualifications, high supervision needs and staff productivity was relatively low. A series of productivity determinants were assessed with the sample placing a very high emphasis on agency location, reputation, managerial abilities, staff expertise, familiarity and liaison with principals. The productivity analysis from the research data picked out age of the company, staff age, training, education, experience, systems installed and applications usage levels, agent/VDU ratio, ratio of supervision, focus of business and principals support level, as factors that contributed to productivity. The future of travel agents seems to be tied closely to the use of automation and diversifying into new product lines to cope with competition. Agents might also become obliged to review their impartial role towards their customers and start to do preferential selling to address profitability, productivity and even survival issues. In the event of agents not pleasing the principals they represent there is the danger of direct sell and alternate retailing forms usurping travel agency market share, challenging their position in the travel industry marketplace, and eventually even leading to their extinction.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors : D'Souza, Gayatri.
Date : 1991
Additional Information : Thesis (M.Phil.)--University of Surrey (United Kingdom), 1991.
Depositing User : EPrints Services
Date Deposited : 30 Apr 2019 08:08
Last Modified : 20 Aug 2019 15:33
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/851476

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