Ricko Tindage is Chinatour.com’s Director of Sales and Marketing. His task besides sales and marketing to the travel agent community…is also creating new tour products.
Originally from Bali, Indonesia, Ricko has called Los Angeles home since 1981.
His academic background was in the hotel management. He has had hotel stints in Jakarta, Indonesia; Brussels, Belgium and in Los Angeles. Instead of a career in the hotel industry, tour and travel industry have shaped the majority of his professional career.
He started in the travel industry in 1990, Ricko has always been in the hospitality industry, even his spouse was a former director of sales of a major U.S. hotel chain. Prior to working for Chinatour.com he has served in several major U.S. tour operators namely UNIWORLD River Cruises and SITA World Tours. In between, he has developed and created small boutique-style tour operators specialized in incentive travels, honeymoons, destination weddings, luxury travels and leasing private jets. One of these tour companies was Romance Travel Concierge, a luxury boutique outfit based in Pasadena, CA, and he was president of the company.
Although he has been to 30 countries, his main destination specialties are Asia and China. His secondary destination expertise is in Europe.
His passion of traveling reflects in the way he is serving the travel industry. Thus, he is very familiar with assisting travel agents and helping them to reach their full potential and financial gains.
Noted celebrity clients: Allen Iverson, Dennis Rodman, Larry Holmes, Magic Johnson, Worldwide Martial Art Super Star Jackie Chan, Nancy Kwan, Sheena Easton, Taylor Dane and Tiffany. Paul Reiser from “Mad about You” TV fame is also one of his celebrity clients.
Travel Research Online (TRO): Hello, Ricko. Thanks for joining us for an interview. How are you today?
Ricko Tindage (RT): I’m great, thank you.
TRO: You’ve got a long and varied history in the travel industry. What made you want to start with hotel management?
RT: After high school, I always admired the look and feel of a hotel; especially with their restaurant setting, front desk and concierge with well-groomed uniformed staff, and beautifully done with crisp white -linens of the bedding ready for a guest. That’s how I started to dream of being in the hospitality industry. This experience in the hotel management was the basis of my long career in the travel industry, and I’m very grateful for that. To top it all off, I actually married my wife when she was still in the hotel industry as Director of Sales of a major chain hotel in Los Angeles. Yes, both of us came from hospitality industry.
TRO: ChinaTour.com plans almost every aspect of a trip, taking care of the traveler. When researching a new tour package, what are you looking for in a destination?
RT: We thoroughly checked the destination as you may have expected with the assistance of our local partner, who basically will be providing the services to our valued clients. Location of hotels are very important. If it is a city hotel, we will need to find hotels that are centrally located; if it’s the beach or lake areas, we want to make sure the hotels are by the beach or by the lake. Easy access to restaurants outside the client’s own hotel is very crucial so they have variety of options. Emphasis on a local culture is imperative. Nowadays, travelers are keen on experience local cultures more than ever. They wanted to absorb the local vibes, whether for their cuisine, local folk songs and dances or local handicrafts. For this very reason, we very much discovered it in the island of Bali, Indonesia. Bali is not only sun and sand, but it has tons of amazing cultures besides having a chance to encounter the friendliest people on the planet.
TRO: What would you say is ChinaTour’s most popular product?
RT: 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!
TRO: You’ve got quite a list of celebrity clients. This usually requires a bit more care in planning, which seems to lend itself to you having a good grasp of what a traveler needs and when they need it. What is your philosophy when putting that skill to work?
RT: That’s correct. They’re definitely “in the league of their own”, so to speak. I was lucky though, most of the times, I didn’t have to deal directly with them. Their personal assistant, personal manager, PR firm or their travel agent were usually the person in charge. Only one or two of them are directly dealing with me, and I have their speed dial on my phone. Dealing with this level of clients is definitely beneficial for me in dealing with our regular (non-celebrity) luxury clients. My one philosophy when dealing with their trips: never say no, always say, “I will try my best.”
TRO: How do you view the relationship between a company like ChinaTour.com and the travel agent?
RT: We would like to set ourselves as agent friendly, and that’s what we are striving for. Travel agents are our core business. I should say about 95% of our businesses come from travel agents’ booking. That’s why we’re very bullish in making sure that we’re assisting our TA community via webinars, seminars, trade shows and most importantly with TA FAM trips that we’re conducting—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.
TRO: What is the best advice you’ve been given while working in the travel industry?
RT: Be patient and be flexible. This industry has changed so much, if you’re not patient or flexible enough you won’t survive it. We have to be able to adapt to technology that comes with it, especially, with online platforms. I was never one to despise this technology, instead I embrace it. The one thing I still hold dear is the ability for us to be able to provide service one-on-one, and the client is able to receive service when they’re having problem with their travel arrangements. This relationship will never be replaced by a computer.
TRO: ChinaTour.com also plans for destinations outside of China. Can you give us a few examples?
RT: As mentioned earlier, we do look into other destinations besides China. As it is, we’re starting to book tours to Indochina countries of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, Myanmar (formerly Burma) as well. Along with Japan, S. Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Bhutan, Nepal and India.
TRO: Any big news or announcements coming up from ChinaTour.com?
RT: Yes, we do. We’re scheduled to launch our luxury tour brand called Elite Voyages this month. This luxury brand will encompasses all our China and Asia tours to include other major destinations in the world such as Europe, South America and North Africa. We’re very excited with this brand.
TRO: Ricko, thank you for your time.
RT: Thank you, TRO, for giving us this platform, so that our TA community can learn about us and our products.