Orlando has emerged to be a prime location for RTOs working the Latin America market, but its reach has grown beyond that, as we found during our stop there during our recent 2015 East Coast Listening Tour to meet and talk with receptive tour operators, DMOs and travel suppliers based there. Following are some highlights from our conversation with Tourico‘s CEO, Uri Argov.
A Thrust to “Convince the Unconvinced”–Always aggressive, Tourico Holidays is trying to distinguish itself by introducing its hotel inventory into new and uncharted waters, while OTAs—by expanding their distribution and their competitors are simply taking orders—are essentially convincing the convinced. By pushing their hotel inventory to new audiences, Tourico is powering the hotel booking sites of American Airlines, Emirates, El Corte Ingles in Spain, Sam’s Club and a host of others.
During our wide-ranging conversation Argov emphasized that the company’s goal is to “Convince the Unconvinced.” For example, he explained, a team of product managers fresh out of the Tourico Academy made a presentation to skeptical revenue managers at an airport hotel in Savannah, Georgia that was experiencing lower bookings because visitors don’t go to Savannah to stay in an airport hotel. Through a data-centric presentation, the young Tourico crew showed managers how they could increase bookings to their property. Once the contract was signed, Tourico began pushing the property internally with its offices in China where the company now has more than 150 staff, as well as India and other Asian markets. Within days, the hotel received a quick flurry of unexpected bookings from Asia, a market they never attracted before. The management of the hotel chain that operates the Savannah property then signed 87 of its other hotels with Tourico. “That,” said Argov, “is an example of convincing the unconvinced, as our team promoted that hotel to a whole new segment of tourists that never connected to Savannah before.”
Meanwhile, Argov told Inbound that, of all programs Tourico has initiated in the last 20 years, he is most gratified by the reaction he is receiving from the Tourico Academy. Especially surprising is the unexpectedly high-skilled level of the applicant pool. Among those seeking admission this year were many with Master’s Degrees, one of whom was from Harvard Business School and another with an engineering degree from M.I.T. Asked why these applicants would apply for a tour operator training program, Argov responded by noting that this generation’s professionals are less money-motivated and do not see themselves in cubicle jobs–they find the prospect for a career in travel alluring.