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Travel Industry Shaken by Gogo Vacations Closure Amid Flight Centre’s Strategic Overhaul

March 12th, 2024 10:30am

Read the full article: Travel Weekly

In a move that has sent ripples through the travel sector, Gogo Vacations announced on February 27 its decision to cease operations, a move prompted by a strategic overhaul at its parent entity, Flight Centre Travel Group. The closure has sparked discussions among travel advisors, many of whom anticipated the development yet express concerns over the implications for market competitiveness and pricing structures.

Flight Centre’s Americas President, Charlene Leiss, remarked on the closure as a necessary, albeit challenging, decision. She attributed the cessation to the unsustainable costs and difficulties inherent in the wholesale model, which has been under strain in recent years. This sentiment reflects broader industry challenges faced by wholesale operators in adapting to evolving market demands and maintaining profitability.

The industry has seen a gradual shift away from Gogo Vacations, with numerous advisors citing persistent issues with the company’s booking and customer service. This has led to a pivot towards alternative providers like ALG Vacations, Pleasant Holidays, and Classic Vacations, noted for their more intuitive booking systems and enhanced customer support.

Despite this, the closure of Gogo Vacations has not been without its detractors. Jenn Lee, Vice President of Industry Engagement and Support at Travel Planners International, acknowledged the substantial volume of business her agency conducted with Gogo until its closure. She pointed to the company’s inability to keep pace with the evolving needs of travel advisors for streamlined booking processes as a critical factor in its downfall.

The shift to a new booking engine, Helio, was pinpointed by many advisors as the beginning of significant operational challenges for Gogo. Despite efforts to train users, the system was widely criticized for its lack of user-friendliness, highlighting a disconnect between the company’s technological advancements and the practical needs of its users.

The loss of Gogo Vacations from the marketplace has been met with mixed reactions. While some advisors lament the reduction in B2B wholesale supplier diversity, others like John Werner, President and COO of MAST Travel Network, recognize the broader implications of diminished competition, including the potential for higher prices and compromised service standards.

The wholesale travel sector faces increasing pressures from a variety of fronts, including the rise of online booking giants and changing industry dynamics exacerbated by the pandemic and shifts in hotel occupancy rates. Despite these challenges, some wholesalers have reported significant growth, underscoring the potential for success within the sector.

David Solis of Ultimate Jet Vacations emphasized the importance of innovation and adaptation for wholesalers to remain competitive. He highlighted that the departure of Gogo Vacations further emphasizes the ongoing struggles within the wholesale segment, underlining the need for continual evolution in the face of changing B2B distribution trends.