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  • Cheska Bennett

Tour Operator Recipe for Success

Updated: Feb 21

Over the last couple of days, Destination X Infrastructure Summit has occupied short and concise discussions on the long term tourism strategy and continuance within the Middle East. There was one discussion in particular from Christopher Lund, who overseas the consultancy division of Colliers International in the Middle East and North Africa where Christopher outlined a recipe for success in destination development but the concept also applies perfectly to tour operators and travel providers when looking at business development for success in the coming months.

  • 500ml of world class projects

  • 2 cups of access

  • 3 tablespoons of diversification and differentiation

  • 1 kg activation, operation and promotion

  • Dash of local seasoning

Now you have the ingredients, let’s look at how to bake:

  • 500ml of world class projects

In destination development this equates to a fully integrated development plan; government and private sector, one destination and not a scattered collection of business.

For a tour operator this looks like collaboration with DMC’s and local suppliers, consistent approach to customer service, leveraging the power of the group or building white label partnerships for areas you don’t have the visibility.

  • 2 cups of access

‘Friendly policies and connections’ is the mantra here. Whereas destination development will look at visa policy and modernised transport routes, tour operators need to inject companywide ease of booking, transparent refund policies and access to those who can answer questions. Time to focus on wait times, online customer journey and answering all the questions guests need to feel safe and ready to travel.

  • 3 tablespoons of diversification and differentiation

What can and do you give to your guests? This is where a portfolio of brands to cover a variety of markets and products is useful but for those independent operators how can you evolve to be available for where the demand and opportunity lies Ski operator; Is expansion to winter breaks possible? Special Interest; what are the trends? Beach operator; where are the new destinations/markets? If Covid has taught us anything power is in diversification. For those with a portfolio, how can you maximise the demand where and when you experience it.

  • 1 kg activation, operation and promotion

This isn’t just marketing, but it goes without saying if you don’t tell anyone, how will they know? For destination development this part of the recipe focuses on the provider experience and local participation. How good is the hotel and onsite operator experience? Activation becomes the secret ingredient for longer term success once we can transport guests further afield once again. That first trip away is now the same as their first ever trip with your brand, make. it. count. Loyalty will be the ultimate key to success from 2021 onwards. With promotion and marketing in mind, how spectacular is it? Is it eye-catching, is it remarkable? A little bit too little or a little too much of an ingredient can be the difference between success and starting again.

  • Dash of local seasoning

This relates to your brand, your flashing lights and that xfactor which makes you excellent. If you don't have clear brand values or USP's then well worth prioritising now. Bland is not what you want to be right now in this ever competitive environment. That dash of seasoning makes the difference from 'OK' to telling the next 5 people you meet how good something was. Never underestimate that.

So happy baking! May your recipes be a successful delight and please don't forget I am always available as a quality control taste-tester!


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