Last month, I mentioned that at the end of October, I’d be heading off to Southeast Asia with the Czech Tourism Board for a Roadshow covering the 5 major Southeast Asian markets. This was in cooperation with the Czech, Hungarian, Polish, and Slovak Tourist Boards. It was dubbed the “Discover Central Europe Roadshow.” I was in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Manila, and Jakarta promoting our inbound business to the Czech Republic & Central Europe.
Personally, I believe in the value of joining such roadshows. If they are well organized, it brings in many qualified buyers under one roof which saves time and money compared to doing individual sales calls, particularly in markets like Southeast Asia where the reach is fragmented. Generally, the Tourist Boards are quite selective of which suppliers to bring during these roadshows, as they have to vouch for the reliability and service standards of each one. Therefore, they limit it to a handful. So if a company is selected like we were, the exposure we get to the market is enormous.
In any case, being at these roadshows does not guarantee outright business. At the end of the day, we do have to prove our worth to the market and win the confidence of potential partners. But it does give us a shortcut to the market when you meet hundreds of qualified potential buyers under one roof during the business to business sessions; and add to that the fun involved during the social networking that follows after.
Thinking about my last month’s activities, it was designed to build our inbound business into Europe for 2017. On the other hand, as I returned to the office this week, I found our team busy with everything that has to do with our outbound wholesale business as we continue to work with Europe-based travel agents for our programs to Southeast Asia in time for the coming winter season. Europeans are a lot like Americans—we like to get out of the cold and go someplace warm as well. So far it’s been promising as we look at our forward bookings which look healthy, but I’ve come to understand that unless we receive deposit payments, nothing’s really won yet.
As we continue to head towards the year’s-end, the cycle of life as a travel agent continues. I do reflect once in a while and think that although sometimes the business is taxing, especially when you consider the amount of work that needs to be done for the razor thin margins we enjoy these days, I still do not think I’d like to be anywhere else other than doing what we do in this business. Call it the travel bug, or maybe even a force of habit as it’s been ingrained in my system for years. But I think what makes the life of a travel agent exciting is the fact that there’s no single day that’s really ever routine.
Vincent Soriano is the Founder & Managing Director of Art Of Travel. Based in Prague, Czech Republic, Art Of Travel specializes in delivering travel experiences throughout Central & Eastern Europe. And with its strong affinity to Asia, Travel Agent partners and customers also rely on their expert knowledge of Philippines, Thailand, and the rest of Southeast & North Asia. To know more, visit www.ArtOfTravel.eu. Vincent can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org