Tourism Business Magazine Apr-May 2012by lesley - May 16th, 2012. Filed under: Media Releases.
Inbound Tour Operators have greater value to industry than acknowledged!
They promote your company off-shore and buy your product on-shore – why wouldn’t you love your relationship with an inbound tour operator? And yet, there are sectors of the industry who fail to recognise that the relationship you have with an inbound tour operator is only about money.
I’d like to remind us one of the core reasons why the distribution channel and working with an inbound tour operator deserves more respect from industry. Yes, tour operators across the industry can receive their customers from a variety of booking mediums and channels. We know, you know it, and the ‘e-get rid of distressed inventory’ agents know it. However an online wholesaler or e-agent, cannot deliver pastoral care, health & safety of customers while they are visiting New Zealand which is fundamental to every customers ‘quality’ experience.
Working with an inbound tour operator does have a commission/referral structure but many forget that you don’t pay the commission until the customer has been delivered to your door. And whether they deliver 10 -50% of your customers, they actually do much more than the obvious. They are for loved ones off-shore, the people they most likely rely on when things go wrong. I’d like to share a story with you that highlight’s the benefit of working with an inbound tour operator.
ATS Pacific, one of our members had 1000 customers in Christchurch during the 22 February 2011 earthquake. After a few days the member had to report to Red Cross that “51” were missing. Can you imagine the sinking feeling you would have as the owner or CEO of that company in reporting to Red Cross missing people and also having to communicate via thousands of phone calls and enquiries from overseas family members? The staff and family members of ATS worked tirelessly over the next few weeks with more than 1200 hours of overtime (700 unpaid) – searching high and low, and after two weeks they were able to take everyone reported missing ‘off’ the Red Cross list. What a huge achievement and illustrates the enormous responsibility inbound operators have when people entrust their lives into our care.
While the earthquake situation was chronic, this is not an isolated or special case – it’s just what we do when we need to do it. Inbound tour operators know what to do and how to find their people on the ground during times like these and that is one of the many benefits booking travel with an inbound tour operator provides. We are constantly faced with a crisis of some description – whether it is road closures, flooding, snow, clients unwell or urgently needing to get home, accidents and earthquakes.
On the new website we have a section on ‘benefits of using an inbound tour operator’. http://www.tourismexportcouncil.org.nz/distribution-system/reasons-for-using-an-inbound-tour-operator/ . The traditional distribution channel has changed but one thing that remains unchanged is that in case of an emergency, it is a person that ‘looks’ for another person – not an ‘e-booking service.
Happy autumn to you all and we look forward to having you join us later in the year on the West Coast for the Tourism Export Council Conference 21-24 August 2012. Regards Lesley