Ricko Tindage is Elite Voyages’ Director of Sales and Marketing iso Chinatour.com’s DSM. 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 hotel management. He has had hotel stints in Jakarta, Indonesia; Brussels, Belgium and in Los Angeles. Instead of a career in the hotel industry, the 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: Hi, Ricko. How are you doing these days? We haven’t talked with you since 2019.
Ricko Tindage: Hi Joey, it’s nice to hear from you again. Boy, a lot of things have changed since our last conversation, indeed! These extreme changes in travel industry, thanks to the global pandemic, have basically shook the core our industry compared to past challenges.
TRO: You’re here to talk about Elite Voyages, a luxury entity for Chinatour.com. How long have you worked with Elite Voyages, and have you enjoyed your time there?
RT: I have been working with Elite Voyages since its inception back in July 2019. Basically, I’m working in tandem with our Chinatour.com tour products. We’re glad we launched Elite Voyages when we did, before the pandemic. EV brand is encompassing all destinations besides our core destinations of Asia and China.
TRO: Speaking of 2019, Elite Voyages won Best Vacation Packager-Asia at the Travvy Awards. What do you think makes Elite Voyages rise to that level of recognition?
RT: We have to thank Chinatour.com, our parent company, when we have that recognition and winning the Travvy Awards—not only in 2019, but also in 2020. Travvy Awards is the Oscar of the travel industry, and voted by our peers and clients alike; that’s what made it extra special.
Actually, in 2019 we also won another prestigious travel industry accolade in Best Tour Operator-Overall Magellan Awards (Gold). The winners of Magellan Awards are picked by expert travel industry panelists consist of 18 top leading travel industry professionals.
TRO: Bespoke journeys are the forte of Elite Voyages. From carefully planned trips on luxury trains to culinary delights, to authentic tour experiences. What has historically been your most popular addition to clients’ itinerary?
RT: We’re trying to differentiate our tour products by featuring more extra values that are favored by our discerning clients. Starting from our website, besides the usual tour itinerary, we included one “Fun Fact” of that the country or a city. Although we can’t arrange this in every city, we’d like to include one meal (either lunch or dinner) with a local family in order to experience the real local culture.
TRO: Obviously, corona virus strains are the primary worry of the travel industry at this time. How is Elite Voyages going about handling this challenge?
RT: That’s correct! I think by now everyone, especially in our industry, we’re all exhausted and frustrated with the challenges of this pandemic which is entering its third year, soon. We were lucky enough to be able to successfully complete one small group of 12 people in July of last year to Iceland, without a hitch when countries started re-open again. We’ve actually received so many inquiries and advance bookings from our travel agents, where we allow them to postpone or cancel without any penalties, when destinations are locking down due to Covid.
TRO: Elite Voyages is currently adding new destinations to their already thorough lineup. Can you tell us a bit about these, and when they will be available?
RT: To start with, we only feature limited destinations, then we would add new destinations after carefully vetting them. Our current new destinations are Dubai, Egypt, and Greece.
TRO: You’re also organizing FAM trips, which are important for the Advisor to really feel out a destination and experience. Can you break down this new development for the readers?
RT: As a tour operator that is travel agent friendly, we’ve been running FAM Trips to China, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore for the last several years. Now, we’re expanding to different destinations for our FAM, such as Dubai and Egypt. It’s been very helpful for our agents, and for ourselves as well. We have received so many bookings from agents that went on our FAMs in the past.
TRO: How does Elite Voyages work with Travel Advisors, and what can Advisors expect from the process of booking tours for their clients?
RT: One of them we can mention… for one, we’re conducting webinars, sending email blasts for our new tour packages and FAMs. Our wholesale department is ready to serve our Agent’s questions and booking. We have also created agents’ portal on our website. All of our set packages are 12% commission. If we have to customize an itinerary, the cost could be a Net Non-commissionable or as high as 14% commission including $100.00 Gift Card for booking agent.
TRO: Does Elite Voyages have any other upcoming changes that the travel advisor should know about?
RT: It will not be a change per se, but rather a great addition instead. We’re working with Aman Jet Experience, known for their super luxury tour with private jet.
TRO: Ricko, thank you for your time. I wish you the best in the year to come, and we hope to hear from you again.
RT: Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to update our tours and missions to your readers. Also, we really appreciate TRO and staff for your dedication and hard work to give the travel industry a voice in this difficult time.
If interested, please find more information at Elite Voyages.