SeaLink will work with Kingscote Travel to develop a new business model following changes to fare structure for locals travelling on the Kangaroo Island ferry service.
A letter from chief operating officer, Donna Gauci published in the Jan. 13 edition of The Islander can be read here:
"Thank you to those residents who took the time to share feedback on the service provided by Kingscote Travel and the change in the Kangaroo Island resident fare structure.
"SeaLink has recently been through a very competitive Government tender process to secure the ongoing Kangaroo Island Ferry Service.
"One of the government objectives for this contract was the reduction of resident fares, which will see these fares reduce by up to 78 per cent.
"Significant operational efficiencies have had to be sought to be able to deliver such a reduction in fares and the increase in services, which will take effect once the investment in new ferries is complete.
"Kangaroo Island resident fares will now be regulated by government, which means they are set out in our contract and any annual increases are also controlled by the indexation set by government and linked directly to the ferry operating costs.
"As a result of these changes, unfortunately travel agent commission does not form part of this set cost base model. SeaLink will continue to pay travel agent commission on all other fares and packages.
"We agree that Evelyn and her team at Kingscote Travel provide a great service to the community, and we are very grateful of the partnership we have.
"To assist with this change we have offered to meet with Evelyn to discuss other ways that we can partner with her and other products we can offer throughout our network, at a commission level that assists her business in the future.
"Many travel agents around Australia now have a 'fee for service' business model which was introduced when airlines significantly reduced airfares in a competitive environment.
"Having read all the emails of support from Kingscote Travel customers and the extra service provided, particularly out of hours, a small fee for this level of service would be something I am sure customers would see value in paying.
"SeaLink is a local business that has supported the Kangaroo Island community and small businesses on the island for over 30 years.
"We are committed to continuing this support however we can, by providing an affordable, reliable, and sustainable ferry service. We too are adapting to the new fare structure and a changing operating model, that will require us to think differently about how the ferry service runs, so that these benefits can be delivered to the Kangaroo Island community.
"We have worked in partnership with Kingscote Travel for many years and we truly value the service provided and the support they have given SeaLink and our customers over the years.
"We have reached out to Evelyn again this week and will work with her on a staggered approach, through a transition plan to 2024 when the new ferry service contract commences, in order to minimise the impact and allow time for a new business model to be considered.
"Thank you again for expressing your support for Kingscote Travel. We look forward to working with Evelyn on a suitable solution that is sustainable for both businesses."