Swoop doesn't offer any commissions for travel agents.
Instead, the ULCC prides itself on allowing customers to book directly via the website, so that consumers don’t worry about missing out on hot deals on other booking engines. From a travel agent standpoint, this isn’t exactly good news.
But despite the lack of financial love, Swoop is adamant that it can be friends with agents.
In an exclusive interview with Steven Greenway (SG), president, Swoop Airlines, we discussed the newly-launched Caribbean fares, future plans, and everything in between, to get to the bottom of the ULCC's intentions in Canada.
PAX: Why doesn’t Swoop currently encourage booking with a travel agent? Will this change in the future as the company expands?
SG: Swoop focused on building (and continues to optimize) a direct digital platform on FlySwoop.com and through our digital app to allow the traveller to have an immersive experience with the airline. At the same time, Swoop economizes on distribution costs that are then passed on as saving in terms of fares. It is very important for us to ensure that as a new ULCC airline in Canada, our brand, processes, fares and add-on options are clearly and accurately conveyed to our customers, and that is currently done through our direct channels. Travel agents are welcome to book with Swoop but we do not provide any direct incentive scheme to do so at this time. In our mind, our low air ticket fares are a draw for many agents, who can then capitalize on the margins that land content provides.
There is certainly the opportunity to work with travel agents in the future as our goal is to make air travel accessible and affordable to every Canadian. Travel agents represent an additional distribution channel for us to reach travellers. That being said, the solutions we implement must align with our vision as an ultra-low cost carrier. We will continue to do that by focusing on simplicity and leveraging digital technology to offer the lowest fares to our consumers.
PAX: So if agents can't earn commissions, then how can Swoop be of service to agents? Why should they recommend Swoop's services—over that of another LCC that pays commissions— to their clients who might be looking for cheaper airfare?
SG: With some of our lead-in fares as low as CAD $9, we feel we are able to further stimulate the travel market. We leave it to the agent to determine what is the best fit for their customers. We believe that these low fares may allow individuals and families to take a vacation they never thought possible, or take more vacations per year than they could previously afford, leading to repeat purchases and increased purchase frequency, and therefore increased commission opportunities for travel agents.
PAX: Is there a way for agents to maximize profit, short haul flights aside?
SG: Swoop gets people from A to B efficiently and safely, but for the vast majority of travellers, it’s about the destination. Therefore, rather than agents viewing Swoop as competition, we should be seen as an enabler. The money a customer saves on an airfare can be invested in cruise enhancements for example wherein an agent does receive a good incentive. It’s less about maximizing profit per booking and more about enabling agents to capture new demand that wouldn’t otherwise exist.
PAX: With Swoop now adding Caribbean destinations to the mix (hot-selling destinations for travel agents), how does the company plan on keeping up with other major players?
SG: We can compete by offering choice. Customers are unique individuals with unique needs and interests. For the growing demand of customers wanting a bespoke experience, let the customer build their own itinerary (air and land content), and we hope our fares will be compelling enough that they choose to fly with us. There will always be all-inclusive packages in the market place but we also believe there is growing demand for unique customer packaging.