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Tui’s marketing chief has called on independent travel agents to work with the operator as he outlined plans to overhaul its commercial terms, service standards and relationship with the trade.

Neil Swanson’s plea follows a wholesale change in Tui’s overall approach to sales through third-party agents since it cut base commission to 7% for independents almost 20 years ago.

It comes as Tui prepares for its biggest-ever programme for summer 2024, with 1.1 million extra seats and additional flying from 13 UK airports, bringing the total to more than 10 million seats.

Speaking exclusively to Travel Weekly editor Lucy Huxley, Tui chief marketing officer Swanson pledged the operator was “in it for the long haul” and aimed to build “long‑term relationships” with independent agents to sell product from across its entire portfolio.

He urged agents to work with the operator, insisting Tui had taken on board agent feedback to review its pricing strategy and commission payments, and to improve trade contact centre services.

Swanson dismissed the post-Covid boom in agent popularity as the catalyst for the shift. He insisted the move was part of a longer-term, “bigger” overall strategy to grow distribution through part of the market Tui was currently “missing out” on and to sit alongside other large trade players.

“We’re missing out on a portion of the market – largely independent agents,” he said.

“We want to put that right. This is about long-term relationships.

“All I am asking is for people to give us a chance. The proof will be in the pudding, but I can promise you we are here to stay.”

Tui’s new trade approach is three-pronged: to expand its trade team from eight to 14 to cover all of the UK to train and support agents; to review trade commercials, including commission structure; and to improve customer service in trade contact centres to the same level given to direct customers.

Swanson said Tui had already begun working more closely with some consortia agents, with trials running since the start of the year.

He would not reveal details of commission payments but said: “We recognise we need new pricing and commission structures in place. It’s got to work for both parties on a commercial basis.

“It’s something we’ve been reviewing, and we’ve done some trials. We’re now ready to start communicating that to agents.”

Agents would need to decide if the new terms “work for them”, he said, conceding some may “never come on board”, but he hoped agents would “give us a go”.

New commercial agreements are due to be in place by the end of October.

In response to agents’ concerns about price parity and disparity in deposit levels, Swanson said low or zero deposits available to Tui’s agents or online would need to be available via third parties too. “That should be addressed, and it will be,” he said.

Regarding support and wait times for agents through contact centres, he said: “We have a programme in place to improve that service.”

Swanson also pledged that Tui would not target agents’ own customers to sell to them direct.

MoreTui to bolster trade engagement team ahead of ‘biggest summer season’

Agents offer mixed reaction after Tui increases focus on independents

Tokyo Transport Guide

Tokyo has developed a dense network of metro, train and bus lines that serve the Greater Tokyo area. As Tokyo is a very busy city, the public transport is the best way to get around the city. With the multilingual signage and instructions, the public transport is very accessible for tourists.

The rail network dominates the public transport in Greater Tokyo. There are several companies which operate the most extensive rail network in the world. The 13 metro lines cover central Tokyo, especially the area inside the Yamanote circle, around Ginza and east of the loop line. The busiest stations are Shinjuku Station, Ikebukuro Station and Shibuya Station.

JR East is the largest railway company in the world. It provides most of the railway traffic in Tokyo, as well as, to other destinations in Japan. There are several other companies that provide commuter train service to the nearby area. The Shinkansen (Bullet Train) is fast train service that connects the major cities in Japan. The travel time from Osaka/Kyoto to Tokyo is about three hours.

The bus network is not heavily used in the city centre. It's more convenient for places outside the central area. They are not as frequent as the trains, but they are a good alternative if you want to avoid the crowds.

Tokyo Narita International Airport (NRT) is the main one serving Greater Tokyo. It is located on the border between Narita and Shibayama, around 60 km from Tokyo. There are regular train, bus, taxi and private airport transfer services to Tokyo and the surrounding area.

Narita Airport is served by express and commuter trains. Narita Express is connected to Tokyo Station via the Narita and Sobu lines. The suburban JR rapid service train follows the same route to Tokyo Station with several intermediate stops which makes the travel time longer. Keisei provides train services to central Tokyo and the suburbs, as well.

Regular bus services run from Tokyo Narita Airport to the Tokyo City Air Terminal, major hotels and railway stations in the Greater Tokyo Area. Buses are generally slower than trains because of the traffic conditions. An overnight bus service to Kyoto and Osaka is available, as well.

The airport taxi service in Tokyo is fast and reliable. They charge by the meter and additional charges may apply for night rides.

To stay away from the crowds, it's best to book a private Tokyo Narita airport transfer with us. Our premium service includes a door-to-door airport transfer in comfortable and luxury vehicles at fixed cost. The English-speaking driver will meet you at the arrivals gate and take you directly to your hotel, and we hope you enjoy the airport transfer from Tokyo Narita Airport to Tokyo city centre.

Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND) is the second one that serves Greater Tokyo. It is located closer to the city centre, around 14 km. There are regular train and bus lines that run to Tokyo. The latest prices for a private airport taxi from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Tokyo city centre are on the link.

In Japan, we offer private transportation in Kyoto and Osaka.

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