February is the month of Love and right now I’m thinking of a love triangle close to my heart… yours too. It’s no ordinary love triangle where nobody wins and everything ends up messy. No, I’m talking about my first love: Travel. The players are tour operators, suppliers and travellers.
Once upon a time there was a Tour Operator, a Supplier and a Traveller who made the mistake of thinking that they existed in isolation. But Cupid sees the big picture – he knows that everything is connected and all they needed to learn was to see how they are connected to each other.
The Traveller At the heart of this love story, the Traveller desires a memorable travel experience. She’ll pay good money for good service but wants to trust the people she’s buying from – she wants a pleasurable, hassle-free buying experience. She needs accurate, excellent travel content to empower her to make the right choices for her trip. She doesn’t want to spend ages searching the Internet for ideas on what to do or see. She needs information available to her on her mobile devices, conveniently and timeously.
Most of all, she just wants to be inspired.
The Supplier The suave Supplier’s main desire is to satisfy the Traveller, so that she keeps coming back to him. If she tells her friends how wonderful he is and they fall in love with him too, all the better! He wants to grow his business and increase his market share.
He’s always looking for ways to work more efficiently to save time and money, so that he can provide the Traveller with a better buying experience.
The Traveller is extremely attractive. With all the competition out there, the Supplier realises the need to market his charms well to convert more enquiries to sales. He’s proud of what he has to offer & should show that off to optimal effect.
He’s aware that technology has impacted greatly on the travel industry and he’s got to be careful about staying current and relevant.
The Operator The smooth Operator romances the Traveller through the Supplier. His ideal is to convert more leads to sales by giving the Supplier a better selling experience. To work most efficiently, he desires fabulous content to work with to produce fabulous itineraries and have great products to market. Cupid would like to see him encouraging the Supplier to help make that happen. He also needs to produce itineraries as quickly as possible, so that he can sell more and grow his business.
He’s worried about the competition for the Traveller’s affection and knows he needs to keep conjuring up ways to entice her to remain loyal to him. He has to do plenty of research on what makes her happy and keep an eye on what she publishes on social media, so that he can continue giving her unforgettable experiences.
The Traveller is fickle enough to dump both of them at the slightest hint of neglect. She’ll brag about their love on social media if they get it right or lambast them for all to see if they don’t. She doesn’t easily give second chances. But there is a happy ending to this love triangle – a way for everyone to win.
Cupid knows that if the Operator and Supplier collaborate, they’ll win the Traveller’s heart. Their needs and objectives are too intertwined to work in isolation.
Competition makes us faster; Collaboration makes us better.
Both want to develop more effective business practices. Both need to work towards promoting tourism destinations with great content, then distribute and promote it to provide the Traveller with a comprehensive view of what she can expect. Both need to keep up with technological trends in Travel, so they’re not left behind. They want to increase or at least maintain visibility in the industry, develop their brands and build loyalty among industry players.
Nurturing all aspects of this love triangle together is the way to make love stay.
A note on Jealousy: Love often makes fools of us. As tourism professionals, we get comfortable and complacent in the way we’ve always done things. In Travel that often means we dismiss the relevance of travel technology and choose to carry on with staid old practices. We become jealous of technology if we aren’t part of the movement – we are daunted by it. That’s just silly. Technology is the arrow in Cupid’s bow. It carries our desires and best efforts directly to our Traveller’s heart. The smart thing to do is for the Operator and Supplier to adapt to advances in travel technology and collaborate with better sales tools.
Why should the Traveller be at the receiving end of low quality content, for example? Just because the Operator couldn’t find any better material or the Supplier can’t be bothered to update their content, or nobody’s figured out a smarter way of distributing content!
Engage the Traveller with easily accessible, interactive travel content because that’s what seduces her best.
If she doesn’t get it from you, she’ll get it elsewhere. Fickle, remember?
Jealousy also makes us suspicious of others, but Operators and Suppliers should learn to see how much they have in common. Sharing information and networking is so vital – after all, low visibility and underexposure never helped anyone build their brand. They need to learn how to share their space with each other online and offline, engaging with each other on the Internet and in person, at trade shows, workshops, on educationals, at site inspections, or via representatives visiting each other’s offices.
If the Operator and Supplier were smart, they’d promote each other because they’d realise that collaborations benefit everyone involved. Of all the Suppliers out there, the Operator has his favourite – imagine having your preferred content available in an instant. Imagine the Supplier had Specials to promote: the smart thing to do would be to make this information directly available to the Operator so that he could include these in his offerings. That’s just pure business intelligence, right?
Face your love rival so you can see he’s actually your ally. Sharing notes on the likes and dislikes of the object of your affection not only ensures she enjoys consistency across the board, but also fosters transparency in the relationship and creates trust. Everybody wins.
Collaboration is the thing, because no matter how unique you are, everyone’s interests are connected. Cupid, that lusty little imp, wears a knowing smile.. and the Traveller? Well, she’s seduced, committed and seeing her travel dreams come true.