Interview By: Andy Ogg, CTIE, Senior Editor – Travel Professional NEWS®
Interviewing: Ricko Tindage, Director of Sales – Chinatour
First off, thank you very much for the time today and joining our fantastic Travel Professional NEWS readers!
For those of our readers that aren’t aware of Chinatour, can you share a bit about your business and history in this amazing industry?
When I was working for the local travel agency in China, I visited almost every province in the country as a tour guide for all the international Chinese groups. That gave me a lot of firsthand experience on how each major Chinese city handles local tourism packages.
A few years later, we started serving the mainstream market, because a lot of Chinese emigrants have friends who only speak English. They were asking for recommendations. So, we got referred a few times and began to see how big the market was. Quoted by: Alex Wang, founder and president of Chinatour.com
Can you share what some of our most popular packages are for 2019?
China is still our most popular tour product, and also our main destination. We operate all of our own tours in China by our offices in Beijing and Shanghai. Japan, Thailand, Bali-Indonesia, Vietnam & Cambodia, and Singapore are getting very strong in popularity. These countries were once quite popular, now, they are coming back!
Last month we posted a press release of your new luxury brand called Elite Voyages. Would you elaborate more on why the creation of Elite Voyages?
We realize that with our experiences in providing exceptional travel services coupled with demands from our business partners and clients to expand more exciting itineraries in global destinations, we will have to present a new and exciting product brand to remain relevant and to satisfy our clients’ needs,” explained Alex Wang. “Elite Voyages will not only allow us to expand our destination offerings globally, but will also give our new and loyal clients a continuous assurance of deliverable quality and standards of vacation products from us.”
Elite Voyages will provide deluxe and luxury travel products beyond the geographic confines of China, venturing into unique and popular destinations in different continents. Currently, tours to Africa include destinations like Morocco and Tunisia; France, Germany, Iceland, Italy and Scotland for Europe; And Singapore, Vietnam, Korea, Japan and Indonesia for Asia. We’re working to add more destinations.
With Elite Voyages brand, what do you specifically see as the latest trend in Luxury Travel?
While the accommodations that they choose to stay remains unchanged; the level of activity they are looking for is definitely something new. They would like to have more interaction with the local culture that they visit. Whether it’s local cuisine, local folk dances and arts or simply meeting with locals one-on-one.
They also tend to be very sensitive to the environmental impact of their travel foot prints. That’s why our Elite Voyages website, you will find something different than your usual tour company’s websites where we have suggested restaurants and fun facts. We are compiling information on festivals and any special culture events to be included soon.
How do you view the relationship between a company like ChinaTour.com and the Travel Professional?
We would like to set ourselves as agent friendly, and that is what we are striving for. Travel agents are our core business, I should say about 95% of our business comes from travel agents’ booking. That’s why we’re very determined in making sure that we’re assisting our agent community via webinars, seminars, trade shows and most importantly with Travel Agent FAM trips that we’re conducting. We currently are hosting approximately 15 of them annually. I should say most of the times we received regular tour bookings from agents that were once joined our FAM trips and have found success in selling our products after the experience.
In your opinion, how does Chinatour differentiate itself from other tour operators?
We have offices in Beijing and Shanghai, but are headquartered in Los Angeles, so we are very flexible when dealing with travel agents. Not so many tour operators own their own operations in the country, so we have more flexibility with handling any problem or situation that arises during the trips.
We can also add in value. For instance, we handle a lot of upscale clients right now and provide limousine transfer from their home to the airport. Then we add value on the trips, like extra dinner or meals in certain places that are free of charge.
What kind of commissions can Travel Agents expect to make when booking their clients Chinatour?
We want to make sure that we are travel-agent friendly, so we give as much as 12% commission on our online products and more on our customized itineraries. We also give bonus gift cards to the booking agents themselves, not to their agency. The agency will get that commission check, but to encourage loyal agents to book with us, we give them that extra incentive.
With 2019 past the half way point, is there anything new on the horizon for Chinatour as 2020 approaches?
We are excited to add new destinations such as Nepal, Bhutan, Srilanka and Myanmar
If an Agent is looking to get started with Chinatour or are interested in partaking in one of your upcoming FAM opportunities, where can they go to learn more about your offerings?
As a start agent can visit our website: https://www.chinatour.com/agent/
Before we conclude, I personally want to thank you for your time and information shared today. We appreciate your involvement in our publication and look forward to speaking with you again soon!