lack of transparency in the way that airfares are published online and in print
advertising is stifling the travel industry. This is frustrating travellers and, according to Travelstart, will only serve to give
the entire travel industry a bad name. Travelstart believes that travel
agencies, airlines and tour operators need to keep the customer in mind when
advertising fares and is calling for the industry to stop confusing and
frustrating its clients by being inconsistent and duplicitous in the way they
advertise and quote fares.
Although base fares have remained constant,
mandatory taxes, booking fees and fuel surcharges fluctuate, prompting travel
agents and airlines to advertise base rates without fees or taxes. This aims to
entice travellers into the sales office or website, but once there,
they are often disappointed when the agent quotes a completely different and
inflated fare. In a recent survey conducted by Travelstart amongst nearly 9000 travellers, 99.2% of respondents said that when they research travel fares, they
prefer to see the full price upfront, including all taxes and fees.
“Why not just show the full fare and save the traveller the disappointment from the onset? It is not good business practice, nor
ethical, to mislead travellers by advertising rates that do not reflect the full
price, and it is going to lead to mistrust amongst customers, which is not good
for the industry. At Travelstart, our philosophy is to make it easy for our
customers by showing them exactly what they’re paying for upfront, so there
should be no reason why everybody else can’t do this as well,” says Travelstart
CEO and founder, Stephan Ekbergh.
A roundtrip airfare from Cape Town to London
Heathrow, for example, is a reasonable R6500.00 on South African Airways —
until you reach the end of the booking process and the fare jumps to R9421.00
as a result of hidden taxes, fees and fuel surcharges.
“A solution would be for government to enforce
transparency in the way the industry advertises and quotes fares. This is the
case in Europe, where a new transparency legislation was passed in November
2008. It will take a while for this to become a reality in South Africa, but in
the meanwhile, customers are suffering and are not getting what they want – and
because of this, we believe it is our duty to outline this issue and call on
the industry to be more honest,” continues Ekbergh.
Travelstart seeks to challenge the conception of customer service within
the travel agent industry. Their push for price transparency forms part of its
commitment to ensure customer satisfaction.
“The travel agent’s role is to make dreams comes
true, and it is important to remember that relationships are built on trust and
ethics. Misleading clients is like
having a one-night-stand, and everyone knows that a once off affair is not likely
to produce a second date,” concludes Ekbergh.
Travelstart is an online booking site targeting global citizens and
travellers. At www.travelstart.co.za
customers can search and book flights, hotel, cars and holiday packages in a safe
and convenient way. Travelstart’s aim is to provide compelling prices and
superior customer experience.
Founder and CEO Stephan Ekbergh established
Travelstart in Sweden in 1999. Today Travelstart is a global company with
presence in 10 markets, with its South African office located in the heart of