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We have been travelling the US and visiting places abroad. Below are some of our observations; please review them prior to travel.
Our clients have commented that this is truly a time to book through a travel agent: No matter where you are in the world, a travel agent can help you rebook. The same cannot be said about most online booking operations
With the current perception by many business travellers and some travel managers that they can purchase lower-priced tickets on the internet, TOPAZ put agencies and internet travel sites to the test. Between January and June, 2002, TOPAZ compared approximately 19,000 agency-booked itineraries with various internet travel sites including Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity and carrier-specific sites. TOPAZ found that the itineraries booked through a designated corporate travel agency averages $116 less than the same itineraries booked on the internet travel sites.
The average agency-booked fare during this time period was $478 while the average fare booked through the internet sites was $594. “there is a high level of perception by many travel – industry individuals that corporations must have access to the ‘lower fares on the internet’ in order to provide a worthwhile corporate travel program. We have not yet seen the evidence to support this belief,” states Valerie Estep, President, TOPAZ International, Ltd. TOPAZ found lower internet travel sites compared to a corporate travel agency. Overall, the savings realized was 19% for itineraries purchased through a corporate travel agency – compared to the same itinerary if purchased through the specified internet travel sites. “While sometimes fares found on the internet are lower than those offered by corporate agencies, they are not typically an ‘apples to apples’ comparison, but rather an itinerary within the parameters of a corporate travel policy vs. one that might not even involve the same travel days,” says Estep.
TOPAZ will continue to monitor the fares available on travel internet sites along with fares offered by corporate travel agencies in order to provide valuable information for the travel industry. In addition, with the increase in online booking systems being implemented at many corporations, TOPAZ is now including this data in their research.
About Topaz International, Ltd. TOPAZ International Ltd., based in Portland, OR is an airfare auditing, benchmarking and statistical information firm specializing in the use of knowledge and technology to reduce travel costs for business.