Webinars will resume in early January: Last Thursday marked the occasion of the final weekly edition of Connect Travel’s “Staying Connected” webinar series. This one dealt with the Year in Review, during which viewers and listeners saw or listened to a panel of 10 travel and tourism interact with some 200 people connected for a busy hour of discussion with panel members who participated at different times during the webinar. The panel was comprised of:
Tomás Rey, president, owner, Rey Royal;
Keith Snode, chief operating officer, Kaleidoscope Adventures;
Casey Kluver, global tourism sales manager, Meet Minneapolis;
Eric Masterton, director of tourism, Visit Baltimore;
Michelle Pino, owner, Northeast Unlimited Tours;
Steve Maehl, vice president, field operations, Global Travel Alliance;
Lisa Catron, global travel & trade director, Memphis Tourism;
Alfredo Gonzalez, founder, AG Hospitality Group;
Shari Bailey, vice president, Connect Travel, and general manager, Connect Travel Events; and
Betsy Cooper, director of TourOperatorLand.com andpartner engagement, Connect Travel
Top Takeaways: Unlike previous discussions on the “Staying Connected” webinars, this one was highly interactive, with questions and responses between panelists and/or between those asking questions during the discussions. In fact, there were more than two dozen queries or comments during the one-hour roundtable. Following is a sampler of what panelists and participants had to say.
• Even if a supplier has a good idea of what the answer to a question is, it’s always good to hear from an operator and get their perspective on it, and drill down a little bit more.
• The difference between a static and a dynamic rate? Static rates can change from day-to-day, actually even hour-to-hourly. based on the occupancy level in the hotel. A static rate is a set rate that you give a tour operator or a receptive operator throughout the year That doesn’t mean that it’s a set rate; it can be a set rate versus weekday and weekend during a special event so you’re not tied to it.
• Most tour operators, especially in Europe and many in Canada do not work with a dynamic rate because they want to know what they can build their package around.
They need to know the price structure.
• In terms of pro and con, the only con is if you don’t offer a static rate is that you’re not going to
get that business from the tour operators—primarily in Europe because they want to know what their prices are from the beginning.
• Some hotels don’t understand the FIT contract business they rather have groups, but what they have to realize is when they sign an FIT contract, receptives are sending individuals and couples (FIT stands for “FIT stands for ‘free independent traveler’”) that means anything that that’s not part of the group.
Some hotels don’t even understand the FIT contract business. They would rather have groups. So, when receptives are sending business throughout the year and when you add up all those bookings for the year, it’s like practically multiple groups.
• If a certain receptive has an FIT contract with the hotel, it is going to send its group business to that hotel, too, because it wants higher volume with that, and it wants to show loyalty—it’s not going to shop around for a group price for other hotels that are not working with it on the FIT market.
• International travelers typically stay longer in the major destination. When you’re
dealing with a receptive operator, it is booking a complete package. They’re booking an itinerary so they’re most likely going to stay multiple nights in larger cities than someone who’s booking direct with your hotel.
Q: With the ABA Marketplace to take place in June 18-22, 2021(in Baltimore) what things does a receptive look for from the city the hotels convention center.
A: Pre and post fams because it is “super super important,” really, to invite the operators prior to and after the event to see all of the different regions and for the receptive to increase their knowledge of fames Baltimore and Maryland.
• It’s so important to connect with all of our tourism peers to really work together. I’m super happy that we’re all able to do these Zooms. Technology is amazing these days, but I think the it’s so important
for people to be together and have that that face time with each other.
• One supplier told participants that he has taken on a new role, while tourism is kind of in a lull, as the new medical concierge for his city, and that his job is to talk to meeting planners, and receptive tour operators and let them know what they’re doing, what the hotels and the airport and the trains what they’re doing to make it safer to meet;
• You can only do such much with Zooming and virtual and phone. We’ve all been able to accomplish a great deal. But it doesn’t touch upon that that human interaction and, perhaps, we can’t be hugging and everything like we’re accustomed to doing. It’s still being able to be face to face and recognizing the importance of the in-person shows.
• As the vaccine rolls out, I don’t think that’s our silver bullet solution. But I do see more talk from our teachers about getting something planned. So, I do believe that as we move
into the beginning of 2021, we are going to start to see teachers and educators plan their trips whether they’re for fall of 2021, or whether they’re for summer 2021 or even into planning ahead for the spring of 2022. I do believe it’s going to start happening .. I see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
• Some clients are moving to next fall and some are even asking about moving a year out because we’ve been moving trips about four months at a time. Some of these are trips that were in the spring that were moved to the summer that were moved to the fall. They just keep getting bumped, so some people they’re getting exhausted from the postponements.
• Fedex and UPS, which have the contracts for Pfizer don’t have enough belly space to transport everything. So, we’re going to have to use commercial aircraft their belly to transport some
of the vaccines, especially to rural areas. So, overnight because of the need to transport vaccine in commercial aircraft we’re going to have a little over five million additional seats in the market now that are going to be staged or staggered throughout the next 90 days. I think it’s a giant opportunity, because the airlines weren’t expecting to get these airplanes off the desert, dust them off and put them back in service but it will happen now … that need for those vaccines to be transported is going to create an opportunity for passenger service as well.
• I think we are going to have one hell of a summer. People are tired. Whether you call it Zoom fatigue whether it is stay-home-fatigue. whether you have a jogging pants fatigue— whatever those factors be—especially in our business, those factors are going to
push us and everyone else back in the air and back and into travel. It won’t be 2019
numbers, but they’ll be very favorable numbers compared to what we’re seeing right now.
Meet the Sponsor—TourOperatorLand: A major reason for the interest in, and success of, Connect Travel’s “Staying Connected” webinar series has been its sponsor, www.TourOperatorLand.com, and Betsy Cooper, director of TourOperatorLand.com andpartner engagement, Connect Travel. Shari Bailey told participants that it has been Cooper who has been responsible for the back-end work in contacting and following up with the panelists who have taken part in the more than three dozen virtual roundtable discussions that have reached thousands of U.S. travel suppliers, DMO marketing professionals and tour operators—both international and receptive.
Cooper briefly explained that TourOperatorLand, which has operated under her tutelage since it was created more than five years ago, is:
—B2B site that brings together destination partners and operators;
—Is contact and content-driven;
—Has over 4,800 operators from around the world who use it;
—Provides destination partners with tracking notifications whenever an operator visitor opens a partner’s portal;
—Maintains suggested itineraries for operators;
—Allows operators to customize itineraries;
—Showcases the photos and contact information of destination partners;
—Has a “Find a Receptive” feature; and
—Very popular with operators, has royalty-free photos provided by destinations that operators can use for their brochures or websites.
For more information, contact [email protected].
The next “Staying Connect” virtual roundtable is scheduled for Thursday, January 7, 2021. Details TBA.