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Diploma in Travel and Tourism
Unit Number and Title
Unit 14 Tour Operations Management
According to the English Dictionary, a tour operator is defined as a company that provides holidays in which your travel arrangements and accommodation is booked in advance.
Tour operators and travel agencies have become an integral part of the tourism industry. Today, most of the tours operated both domestically and internationally are organized by companies in the business. An important aspect of the success of the tour operator company is the customer relations area. It is inevitable that a previous unblemished track record and ingenious modes of special services are provided to stay ahead of the competition.
The basic operation of a tour operator is to integrate tour and travel to develop a holiday package. It may involve the booking of flights or chartering a flight for a group of people. Importantly, there are aspects of airport transfers and local sightseeing, by local transport is another important area that requires a lot of planning and organizing.
There are some tour operators who specialize in planning tours to a certain locale and have established almost a brand image because of its success. As an example, there are domestic tour operators who have designed special tour packages to the Georgian city of Bath in Somerset. Bath is a World Heritage Site and known for its hot water springs and baths, along with the ancient ruins of the Roman times, also, its many theatres and parks are a huge attraction to tourists, making it one of UK’s important tourist destinations. Some tour operators have understood this region well, and have devised precise tours to display all the salient features that Bath has to offer. They have immaculate travel plans in place with good local travel systems in place with good accommodation as well. Consequently, they have made a mark for themselves in offering a tour to Bath.
Tour operators are competent in managing large groups of people, besides, arranging for conferences and business meets. Often it is difficult for some individuals to manage foreign exchange requirements and language barriers. All this is facilitated by the tour operator.
Designing an effective brochure can play a pivotal role in the success of a tour program holiday. The psychology of the audience must be understood and the first impression created by the design and text can have a lasting impression. The colours used and the photos included must create a good feeling for the prospective traveller.
In the initial planning stage, there must be a basic theme which needs to be developed. This is the main message that must be conveyed to the target audience. The matter that follows must stress on the validity of the message.
The objective of the brochure must be crystal clear. You must know exactly what you are trying to achieve. Many brochures fail on this count – they do not clearly state the aim and are filled with other irrelevant information. There must be three clear objectives that must be clearly defined:
Learning Objectives: With learning objectives we aim to quantify the kinds of information that the brochure will present. For example: "Upon reading the brochure, the majority of tourist will be able to....."
With these objectives listed the designer knows what content (and photos) will be required to accomplish (or illustrate) these points.
Emotional Objectives: In marketing, emotional objectives are critically important. These are the objectives that make a visitor "FEEL" that this will be a great experience that "I can't miss this!", or that "this site or facility will be easy to get to - no trip stress".
Emotional objectives are accomplished mostly with the photos you select. Take a close look at the two brochure covers - what emotions do they convey?
Behavioural Objectives: For your attraction these are the most important objectives. These are the actions or behavioral you want the potential tourist to do.
Here are some examples:
The next step would be to understand who the target audience would be: they could be families on holidays with young children or teenagers, married/ unmarried couples, retired people, school groups, general tourists or tourists with special interests in the place visiting.
This will help identify the kind of content to be delivered and the choice of colours and photos that be suitable to target the particular group, the mode of distribution of the brochures, identify the activities that the group in question would identify with and what in your assessment they would prefer the most.
Brochure Design: This can include different areas namely:
The text must clearly convey the message that needs to be got across to the consumer. Important points must be mentioned for the reader to understand what exactly is being offered. The photos and graphics play a significant role in a developing an effective brochure. It must be understood that humans remember 50% of what they see.
Finally, the brochure layout or the act of putting it all together to be successful is also a critical component of the whole process. Eventually, there is no single formula to design a good brochure. It is experience that you can understand what works best in a particular situation.
Thomas cook has developed various strategies to market their tour holidays other than with the use of brochures. They have designed business models that reflect the rationale of how to deliver and capture value (A. Osterwalder et al, 2010) in social, economic and cultural contexts.
It was Chen (2009), who pointed out the significance of using the web as a source of effective marketing. This is precisely the mode Thomas Cook has embedded in their recent marketing strategies. They have a substantial data base of travellers with their ages, cultural preferences, choice of holiday destinations, the category of spending on holidays, type of holidays (Adventure, Leisure or Sightseeing) and on different other aspects.
Many of them are targeted directly by sending relevant information on the recent services offered by Thomas Cook through emails and telephone calls or through mobile messaging. Other important forms include creating attractive websites for different products offered, and with the effective use of SEO, they are the first to show up on search sites like Google, Bing and others. Also, with the rapid popularity of the Social Media sites like Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter among many others, marketing has taken a new twist, as these are very powerful mediums or platforms to reach out to billions of people around the world.
Each tour holiday demands a unique method of selling it. Tour holidays meant for school and college groups can be targeted on their campus itself, with the help of brochures or banners or organizing a presentation in connivance with the authorities. Also, questionnaires and forms can be distributed easily to firstly understand their exact choices and secondly using the data collected to meet these requirements. Advertising on television and the radio are very effective in attracting audiences across all types of people. Catchy slogans and phrases can be introduced to help people associate with the name of Thomas Cook.
Business houses can be enticed to hold conference meets at attractive destinations that can provide state of the art facilities and can create an atmosphere of business with pleasure. This can be made possible by personal visits to the top management or to the concerned departments.
Shopping malls is another area that can be employed with great effect to market the different tour holidays that Thomas Cook has on offer. There can be visual displays of some destinations important places and personnel present on a desk assigned to them from the mall management, who can directly relate to all enquiries and get to understand the pulse of the people better. This method can be applied to clubs or other places where a large number of people visit regularly.
Steven Covey, said: “It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in an activity trap, in the busy-ness of life, to work harder and harder at efficiently climbing the ladder of success only to discover it’s leaning against the wrong wall. It is possible to be busy – very busy – without being very effective.”
Strategic marketing is the technique of knowing what to say and how to say and who it is addressed to, whereas, tactical marketing is more dependent on where you say it.
Seth Godin said “Marketing is not an emergency it is well planned and started long before and does not end till until you are done”. Strategic marketing involves the understanding of customer needs and what is important to them. It is on achieving this that a strategic plan can be put into place to target the market accordingly.
Developing a marketing strategy, as defined by David Aaker be it strategic or tactical must be based on a company’s resources with the ultimate goal of increasing sales and gaining a competitive advantage (Baker Michael, 2008). It is imperative that the marketing efforts of a company contribute to the goals of the economy and its marketing objectives (Homburg et al, 2009).
Tactical marketing relates to the execution of the marketing plan by creating market leads, using the media sources, developing marketing tools and a follow up system. Tactical marketing must first understand what the customer really wants and then put an appropriate campaign in place.
Direct marketing: Direct marketing is an interactive marketing communication tool that uses one or more advertising media to obtain a measurable response and/or transaction at any location (Burnett & Moriarty 1998:378). Using direct marketing, organisations communicate directly with target customers to generate a response (Belch & Belch 2001:17)
According to Pender (1999:270), George (2001:244) and Cravens (2000:355), direct marketing techniques essentially involve marketing the product directly to the consumer without the involvement of a middleman or intermediary. This allows the marketer to gain direct access to the buyer.
The three main goals of direct marketing are for the recipient to open messages, read them and place an order (Nichols 2002). To ensure that the messages are opened in the first place, it is necessary to develop a database with the names and addresses of relevant potential clients. The effectiveness of direct marketing depends largely on the development of a database (George, 2001:244). Consequently, before marketers decide on certain tools to implement their direct marketing strategy, they need to establish a database.
Some of the important areas where tour operators generate leads from to employ their tactical marketing strategies are:
Homburg, Christian, Sabine Keuster, Harley Kraahmer, (2009). Marketing Management a Contemporary Perspective – 1st ed. London.
Baker Michael, (2008). The Strategic Management Plan Audit. P-3
Steven Cohey, (2010). Seven Habits Of Highly Successful People.
Osterwalder A., Yves Piguneur, Alan Smith (2010). Business Model Generation and 47 C practices from 45 countries – self published.
UNEP, (2000). United Nations Publications
Belch, GE & Belch, MA. 2001. Advertising and promotion: an integrated marketing communication perspective. 5th edition. Boston, Mass: Irwin/McGraw-Hill.
Burnett, J & Moriarty, S. 1998. Introduction to marketing communication: an integrated approach. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
George, R. 2001. Marketing South African tourism and hospitality. Capetown, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Cravens, DW. 2000. Strategic marketing. 6th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Nichols, M. 2002. The power of a simple postcard. BusinessWeek Online (www.businessweek.com).
Pender, L. 1999. Marketing management for travel and tourism. Cheltenham, UK: Stanley Thornes. Frechtling, (1994, a) Burchell and Listokin (1978)
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