The League of Professional Receptive Operators participated in the recently concluded CITM 2018 with its first-ever dedicated booth, comprising 40 ground operators from countries including Israel, Turkey, Slovakia and Spain.
The decision to present as a collective was driven by the desire to gain a better understanding of the Chinese outbound market and to raise awareness of the organisation.
Formed in 2015, the league comprises professional ground operators seeking a platform to share resources, information for clients as well as expertise.
Founding member Frank Shang told TTG Asia: “In previous CITM shows, our members exhibited under their own country pavilion or on their own. Now this collective effort is putting us under the spotlight.
“It’s not our aim to compete with group tour agents, and we hope buyers would know us as a bunch of inbound/outbound receptive operators with warm service. A lesson learnt from the Sino-US trade is not to rely on one single source market but be globalised in business.”
Highlighting the four key trends observed of the Chinese outbound market – “namely the rise of personalised products, small group tours, online payment platforms like Alipay as well as refined services” – Shang also urged league members to “go in the direction of customised tour ideas” to survive in future.
Louis Lee, Slovakia-based planner at European Tourism Planning Agency, which specialises in cultural exchange tours, also foresees small group tours to take off among the burgeoning Chinese FIT wave.
“China is such a huge market with immense growth so this collective platform would create head-to-head competition with other members,” he said.