In the hypercompetitive travel trade in Singapore, merely putting together a compelling itinerary with an attractive price isn’t sufficient. With a plethora of online travel portals like Expedia, Travelocity, Zuji and Wotif muscling into their space, brick and mortar travel agents need to find new ways to differentiate themselves. With the help of online travel service providers, consumers are booking airline tickets, selecting hotel rooms, renting cars, arranging land transfers, and even making reservations for restaurants and shows in advance.
While some players like MISA Travel have gone on to develop a more e-commerce savvy website, others such as ASA Holidays have organised full-fledged trade fairs to showcase their various offerings. Together with other big outbound tour operators like CTC Travel and Chan Brothers, ASA Holidays is pre-empting the upcoming NATAS Travel Fair with their own pre-sales event (I told you it was competitive).
Are these travel fairs successful? Well, join me for a tour of ASA Holidays’ recent fair at Suntec City and decide for yourself.
While wandering around the booths, I noticed that the “props” being used are getting larger and larger these days. I wonder how that coach got all the way up to Level 4 of Suntec Convention Centre?
I thought this character resembled PUB’s Water Wally, don’t you think?
A stage is in place for live performances and demonstrations of what one can expect at the various destinations. There was also the much highly sought after “grand lucky draw” where one can win prizes, free holidays and other goodies.
At each zone, the key offers available are clearly communicated through standees which present the key highlights of each tour, available dates, package prices, and of course any special deals (like the 2nd traveller enjoying half-price deal here).
After selecting your package, you’re supposed to get a queue number and assigned to a tour sales personnel. To ASA’s credit, I found them proficient in their product knowledge and credible. At the Korea tour areas, we were served by a Korean tour guide who was specially flown in for the occasion. I guess it added to the “authenticity” of the experience since he had excellent product knowledge while being able to communicate fluently to us in Mandarin.
Having experienced the trade show put up by ASA, I suppose the key areas of focus are still low prices, promotions and freebies. While elements of experiential marketing were incorporated into the roadshow, it is clear that the main decision drivers for consumers are value-for-money tours which are economically feasible.
It would be good if travel businesses could try to pay more attention to the after sales experience of customers rather than to focus all their energies and resources on clinching additional sales. Find out how your customers feel after the tours, get them to share their photographs (and put them up on your website, blog or Facebook pages), and reach out to them with offers and specials AFTER their trip. This may not only endear your brand to customers but help to trigger greater Word-Of-Mouth in the long run.
Oh and in case you are wondering, this post isn’t sponsored by ASA Holidays. On the contrary, we bought a package from them (and yes, it was decently priced). But that’s a story for another day.