Political tensions, agency closures and the advent of dynamic online booking may have impacted traveller and industry confidence in the past year, but Singapore’s travel agencies are tightening their defences by inking partnerships within and beyond the travel community.
Travel agents whom TTG spoke to at the Travel Revolution: The Event, a free consumer travel fair recently held in Singapore, expressed confidence in keeping their businesses afloat amid a volatile climate.
Joe Lim, consultant, Nam Ho Travel Service, said: “No matter how dangerous the world is, Singaporeans will still travel. For travel agencies to survive now, we must provide unique offerings like gourmet tours, incentive travel and even celebrity guides – things that customers cannot find online.”
To create such products, agencies are stepping out of their comfort zones to establish strategic partnerships. Earlier this month, WTS Travel signed a deal with cryptocurrency exchange GCOX to be their official tour partner, while Royal Wings Travel partnered Kochi Prefecture to develop hybrid tours, which it then distributed to other travel agencies like Pegasus Travel Management, Siam Express and JOYOJ.
Nam Ho Travel has also pushed out a collaborative effort with 10 other travel agencies across Singapore, shared Lim. This “consortium” of agencies, which includes Planet Holidays, Trans-Star and Global Holidays, involves pooling together their resources and operations for similar tour packages.
Lim explained: “In the past, if an agency couldn’t form a big enough group, we would have to cancel the tour and customers would be unhappy. With this consortium, we have compiled a booklet of tours for customers to choose from, and it’s now easier for us to form groups.”
Celebrity tours, which are led by a local TV host, actress or radio DJ, are also a burgeoning trend, said CTC Travel’s travel manager for marketing and public relations, Kelly Toh.
“We have been collaborating with these hosts for a while now. As such ‘celebrity tours’ are so popular, we’ve created one where our own managing director leads two tours a year and it’s doing very well. Last year, he brought a group of 130 to Jordan,” she said.
CTC Travel’s managing director, Chen Bin, leads tours to lesser-travelled destinations such as Okinawa and Mongolia, where participants enjoy interactive and engaging activities such as group dining and games.
These tours not only present customers with a more unique travelling experience, but also foster a sense of familiarity and friendship with the agency. Several customers have followed Chen’s tours for many years, said Toh.