The boss of Designer Travel has called for “basic honesty” between suppliers and agents to enable the homeworking agency to service its affluent clients more efficiently.
Managing director Amanda Matthews said suppliers throughout the chain were “struggling to communicate quickly”, adding issues were exacerbated by operators withholding or issuing incorrect information.
Speaking at the Leaders of Luxury conference, hosted by Travel Weekly sister title Aspire, Matthews cited the example of an airline that said a flight had been cancelled when it had actually been overbooked and operated as planned.
“It really boils down to basic honesty,” she said. “None of us like being inconvenienced, but if we know in advance, we’re prepared.
That’s what’s so frustrating: we can solve a lot of these issues, but we can’t when they’re thrown at us [without notice].
“The one thing that I would call for from every supplier, every airline and everybody that’s involved in the chain is just basic honesty.”
Matthews said Designer Travel had “beefed up” its admin centre to support its network of 110 homeworkers. But she said a backlog of rearranged bookings, coupled with long wait times and communication issues with suppliers, had created a “compound effect” for the company.
“The high-net-worth clients that we deal with have always been demanding. Clients want answers as quickly as possible and that’s what they’re used to,” she said.
“We’re struggling because we are at the end of the chain but on the frontline with the client.”
She added that the agency was increasingly being forced to “cut out” operators to service clients’ needs.
“To counter as many cases as we can, we are cutting out the tour operator from that process and going direct to the source of the information,” she said. “Whoever that is – the hotelier, a taxi company in Ibiza – that’s what we’re having to do wherever possible.
“Tour operators and suppliers are maxed out and short-staffed, so this means we get answers and don’t have to add to the tour operators’ wait times.”