BY LAURIE MARCIL, MEMBER SERVICES MANAGER, NOTO
ere at the NOTO office we were recently asked if we had a list of operators that were interested in the international marketplace. We of course answered that in fact we do.
An email was sent by NOTO to the membership asking whether operators were interested and whether they had any staff that could communicate in German, French, Swedish… the response from members has been great. If anyone who did not get the email is interested in getting on a list that we will share with international tour operators, please contact me at the office.
Things you should know:
Many international travellers plan their trips overseas differently than we’re used to here in North America. Because of the very comprehensive consumer protection laws in Europe, most travellers use travel agents who use wholesalers who in turn use receptive operators (brokers) here in Canada.
Here is how it works:
Receptive Operators (brokers) collect a list of trips offered in our industry and provide that list to the Wholesaler. In many cases, the wholesaler assembles a complete package, with transportation, side trips etc. Remember, some European travellers are coming for two weeks or longer, but may only want a three day lodge trip. He/she also finalizes the bookings directly with the lodges that are requested by the Travel Agents.
Wholesalers (like Sunquest) put together a brochure listing the lodges with details on their trips which they provide to the Travel Agents overseas.
Travel Agents deal directly with the overseas consumers to help them find the trip that meets their needs and work through the Receptive Operator to book the trip.
There is a commission cost to promoting yourself through a Receptive Operator and in some cases there are other specific criteria that must be met by the tourist operation. Although businesses in our industry commonly stay away from using commission based systems you have to consider the expense involved for individual operators to promote themselves effectively overseas.
For other industries like hotels and larger resort chains they are requested to reserve a number of rooms for Receptive Operators however, due to the nature of our outdoor tourism industry, we may be treated by some on a request basis. It is important to understand however, if you receive a request from a Receptive Operator you must be able to respond to them in a short period of time.
Something to consider is, if a trip to your lodge is never sold through the receptive operator, you lose nothing and gain some added exposure to the international market. Your information will be circulated through travel agents to their clients. Some of their clients may decide not to use the agent to book their trip and may therefore contact you directly.
It is therefore very important that you be as descriptive as possible in the details of what is included in their package. If an activity is included but depends on the weather, this should be clearly explained in the package details.
The positive response to the email we sent out indicates that more and more businesses are looking to other markets rather than only focusing on the more traditional US market. I wanted to share this information with you in the event more of you are considering branching out to the international markets.
We continue to research the use of receptive operators to access international markets and we will provide more details to the membership over the next few months.
This article was taken from page 14 of NOTO's "The Outfitter" publication, Spring 2006 Issue