Starting this month, travel advisors will be required to pay service fees to Sunwing if they call the company’s sales centre for help with actions that can be done online using self-serve tools.
In an email sent to travel partners this week, Sunwing revealed that its Travel Agent Portal has undergone enhancements as part of an effort to provide advisors with “more options to manage their bookings conveniently, efficiently, and with a number of self-serve options.”
The self-serve tools complete several actions on a file, Sunwing says, allowing the trade to make their own edits without having to ring Sunwing’s call centre and clog up the line.
Effective Nov. 6, if a travel advisor opts for a Sales Centre agent to complete an action where a self-serve option is available, a service fee of $25 for existing bookings will be applied, and for new bookings, a fee of $25 per travelling passenger will be applied, Sunwing says.
For group travel, advisors should refer to their quote or group contract for terms and conditions, including any applicable service fees, the tour operator says.
“Sunwing’s Sales Centre agents will advise before completing the action if it can be completed online,” the company says. “If so, advisors may choose to end the call and avoid the service fee.”
This post-COVID push to “help yourself” isn’t new.
Besides staffing issues, one of the main reasons why telephone wait times can be so long, especially during peak season, is because travel advisors are calling for help on files that they can fix themselves, tour operators have said previously.
Last year, Air Canada Vacations (ACV) announced new fees for the trade, introducing a $25 administration charge for certain types of calls, such as requests to add payments to a booking or make a name change (actions that agents can do themselves online using ACV’s new tools).
“We introduced the fee not because I don't want calls. It’s because I want the right calls,” Nino Montagnese, vice-president of Air Canada Vacations, told PAX in September of 2022. “We were getting all these calls for name and age corrections. It was clogging up the queue and people who needed the support of our call centre couldn't get through.”
Transat has done the same, announcing in March that it will charge $25 per file whenever its contact centre performs a task that can be done independently.
Sunwing, meanwhile, has put together a chart that outlines all of the actions that can be done through its Travel Agent Portal (see below).
“We thank the many Advisors who utilize the portal regularly, and we encourage all advisors review the portal enhancements including the self-serve options that are available,” Sunwing wrote in its email. “For any other needs requiring Sales Centre support, our Agents are always here to assist.”