In its first step towards becoming a global DMC powerhouse, Buffalo Tours Asia has announced its merger with Olympus Tours Americas – an established ground operator for Mexico, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic – to create an experience company named Discova.
Operating under the Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG), Discova will focus on enhancing destination expertise and local guiding, delivering on-ground solutions to business partners around the world as well as rolling out more sustainability efforts on a larger scale.
Speaking to TTG Asia in an exclusive interview ahead of the announcement, Discova’s managing director for Asia, Suyin Lee, previously managing director of Buffalo Tours, said: “Part of this brand change (involves) a strong refocus on our B2B partners. For a long time, we’ve noticed that a lot of DMCs look and feel a little bit B2C. If you look at their websites and offerings, they’re targeting the B2C market as well. But we’ve come to realise that for us, we can add the greatest value to our B2B partners.”
The new Discova brand entails providing stronger in-destination support for clients and their travellers by improving and maintaining consistent service standards, said Lee. Any subsequent DMC acquisitions by FCTG will also fall under this brand.
“The plan for the global DMC network is to continue to grow across the world through acquisitions or organic start-ups. When that happens, it’s very difficult to maintain so many brands across the world and it confuses our customers,” she shared.
Discova currently operates in 14 countries in Asia, Mexico, Latin America, and the Caribbean, with plans for further expansion to Sri Lanka, South Korea, the Philippines, within the Caribbean, Jamaica and Hawaii. Lee said that Discova has plans to establish a name in Australia and New Zealand where it currently has “no inbound presence at all”.
Greg Kitchen, managing director of Discova, said in a statement: “Discova is also able to create tailor-made in-destination solutions. The strong position Buffalo Tours has had in responsible tourism will be carried into the new brand and strengthened through further initiatives and implementations across Discova’s expanding number of destinations.”
“This will allow us to expand our global reach so that we can remain at the forefront of in-destination travel services and connect our partners and customers to a world of possibilities through discovery and adventure,” he added.
“Our knowledge base, our people and our love of travel is at the heart of our business. This merger is not about changing who we are – it’s about underscoring our core values and strengthening the alignment between our businesses,” Kitchen said.
The new brand positioning will be completed by end 2019 and showcased at the World Travel Mart in London in November.