IT’S been back to the future for two online travel agencies as they’ve re-discovered the benefits of staffing up, an approach initially eschewed by web business purists on the basis of cost benefit (until they needed help). First, Wotif Group brand Travel.com.au announced the launch of Travelmax, an offline travel agents network to service queries. Then it was all hands on deck at Expedia.com.au as staff responded to the Icelandic volcano travel disruptions.
New Expedia regional Managing Director Dan Lynn said the crisis proved it’s “critical” to have 24/7 staff support. The disruptions also tested Expedia’s new no change or cancellation fee policy. “We take the initial refund on the chin then work it out with the hotelier, most have been pretty reasonable.” And the lesson – staff cost but they make the difference between a one-off sale and repeat business. And there’s a lot of benefit in that.