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/DMCs/travel agents, product suppliers and travellers.
A holiday romance
Once upon a time there was a Tour Operator, a Supplier and a Traveller who made the mistake of thinking they existed in isolation. But Cupid saw the big picture – he knew that everything was connected and all they needed to learn was how they were connected to each other.
Yearning for memorable travel experiences at the heart of this love story is the Traveller. She doesn’t fancy spending ages on the Internet researching what to do or see. She’ll pay good money for good service and a pleasant, hassle-free buying experience with brands she can trust. She needs accurate, excellent travel content, conveniently available on her mobile device, to empower her to make informed choices. Most of all, she just wants to be inspired.
The suave product Supplier’s main desire is to satisfy the Traveller to keep her returning 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 market share.
Always looking for ways to work more efficiently to save time and money, he means to provide the Traveller with a better buying experience.
The Traveller is extremely attractive. With all the competition out there, the Supplier understands he has to market his charms well to convert more enquiries to sales.
His pride in and passion for his product should be optimally showcased.
He knows that technology has greatly impacted the travel industry and is conscious about staying current and relevant.
The smooth Operator, or DMC and Travel Agent, romances the Traveller via the Supplier. His ideal is to convert more leads to sales. To work efficiently, he desires fabulous content to produce fabulous itineraries and have great products to market. It’s in his best interests to encourage the Supplier to help make that happen, to empower the Operator to produce itineraries fast. That helps him sell more.
He worries about competition for the Traveller’s affection and knows he must keep conjuring ways to entice and retain her loyalty. He has to do plenty of research on what makes her happy and keep tabs on her social media posts, in order to keep giving her unforgettable experiences.
The Traveller is fickle – she’ll dump them both 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’s a happy ending to this love story – a way that everyone wins.
Cupid knows that when the Operator and Supplier collaborate, they win the Traveller’s heart.
Their needs and objectives are too intertwined to work in isolation.
Collaborate on goals
Both want to develop more effective business practices. Both need to promote tourism destinations with great content, then distribute it to provide the Traveller with a comprehensive view of what to expect. Both need to keep up with travel tech trends, so they’re not left behind. They want to increase or sustain visibility in the industry, develop their brands and build loyalty among industry players.
Nurturing all aspects of this love triangle is the way to make love stay.
What sours the relationship
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. That often means we dismiss the relevance of travel tech and choose to carry on with staid, old practices. We become jealous of technology if we’re outside the movement – we are daunted by it. That’s just silly. Technology is the arrow in Cupid’s bow. It carries our desires and efforts directly to the Traveller’s heart. The smart thing for the Operator and Supplier to do is adapt to travel tech advances and collaborate with better sales tools.
Why should the Traveller be at the receiving end of low quality content?
Just because the Operator couldn’t find 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.
Jealousy also makes us suspicious of others. If only Operators and Suppliers would learn to see how much they have in common!
Networking and sharing info are vital – underexposure and low visibility never helped anyone build their brand.
They need to learn how to collaborate with each other on- and offline: supporting meetings in person, at trade shows, workshops, on educationals, at site inspections, and via representatives visiting each other’s offices, with effective digital access to each other.
Winning with collaborative content
If the Operator and Supplier were smart, they’d promote each other because they realised that collaboration benefits everyone involved. Among all the Suppliers out there, the Operator has favourites – imagine having your preferred content available in an instant. Imagine the Supplier had Specials to promote: it would be smart serving up this info directly so the Operator can easily include them in his offerings. Isn’t that just pure business intelligence?
Competition makes us faster; collaboration makes us better.
Face your love rival and see he’s really an ally. Sharing notes on the likes and dislikes of the object of your affection not only ensures consistency across the board, it also fosters transparency 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.