Pride of place for favoured firms

WHEN you step into the Lunn Poly travel shop in London's High Holborn there is nothing to indicate that the agency is owned by the Thomson group, writes Frank Barrett.

However you would not need the deductive powers of Sherlock Holmes to work out that Thomson is the favoured tour operator. Of the 156 brochure 'facings', one-fifth are devoted to Thomson brochures. The Thomson products also get pride of place, situated at eye level to grab the attention.

Of the remaining facings, Owners Abroad accounts for 15 spaces and Airtours has 10. This means that the three biggest tour operators have one-third of the available space.

In all, the office promotes only about 50 operators, including ferry and cruise companies - probably less than 5 per cent of the total number of companies offering inclusive package holidays abroad.

If you cannot guess the commercial links from the brochures on view, further clues are provided by the counter staff. A recent survey carried out for the BBC programme Breakaway checked on 11 Lunn Poly agencies: in all cases, inquirers were offered a Thomson holiday. At Airtours-owned Pickford, an Airtours package was offered 9 times out of 11.

The promotion of 'own brand' products has intensified since the Airtours acquisition of Pickfords. Airtours began an incentives war by offering all Pickfords counter staff a pounds 3 bonus for every Airtours holiday sold. Thomson followed suit.

The main multiples make no secret that they restrict the range of products to those operators prepared to pay extra commission. Operators wishing to sell through Lunn Poly will normally have to pay commission of up to 15 or 16 per cent, compared with the industry standard of 10 per cent.

Some independent agencies, however, believe it is their duty to offer consumers as wide a choice as possible. For example, the Real Holidays travel agency in London's Essex Road 'racks' more than 600 tour operators. Philip Davies, the owner, said the role of agencies like his was to represent the smaller specialist tour operator who is not racked in the multiples. 'We believe we offer the sort of good impartial advice that consumers want,' Mr Davies said.

But Real Holidays is unusual. Small specialist tour operators are increasingly aware that the only way to develop sales is to sell direct. For those prepared to scour the classified columns of newspapers, the choice is growing - for the consumer who patronises the high street agencies, the choice has never been more limited.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: KS2 Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee