An economic analysis of contracts signed between tour operators and travel agents
The tour operating process is based on many phases, one of which is the distribution of tourist products through the telephone, websites (direct sale) and through the traditional channel of exploiting travel agents’ skills and experience (indirect sale). This paper provides an economic analysis of contracts characterizing the relationship between tour operators and travel agents by taking into account risk-sharing, incentives and flexibility of contractual alternatives. The first part focuses attention on existing agreements regulating commercial and marketing aspects of the economic relationship with tour operators of both independent agents and agents belonging to a network, something whose importance is increasing over time. After the analysis of standard contracts, the paper describes controversial factors limiting the use of a potential compensation system based on a relative performance evaluation that, given the characteristics of the tourist market, could give firms a number of advantages.