Strengthening collaboration among Singapore tourism experts in tough times

Political tensions, agency closures and the emergence of dynamic online bookings may have dented traveler and industry confidence over the past year, but travel agencies in Singapore are forging defenses by forging partnerships within and outside the travel industry.

Travel agencies interviewed by TTG at Travel Revolution: The Event, a recent free consumer travel show in Singapore, said they were confident they could keep their businesses going amidst the turbulent climate.

Travel Revolution 2019
Travel agents in Travel Revolution: The Event expresses confidence in sustaining business through strategic partnerships, celebrity tours and more

Joe Lim, consultant at Nam Ho Travel Service, said: “No matter how dangerous the world is, Singaporeans will still travel. Travel agencies now have to offer unique services if they want to survive, such as food tours, incentive tours, and even celebrity tour guides – these are Customers can’t find it online.”

To create products like this, agencies are stepping out of their comfort zones and forming strategic partnerships. Earlier this month, WTS Travel signed a deal with cryptocurrency exchange GCOX to become their official travel partner, while Royal Wings Travel partnered with Kochi Prefecture to develop hybrid tours, which are then distributed to Pegasus Travel Management, Other travel agencies like Siam Express and JOYOJ.

Lim shared that Nam Ho Travel has also partnered with 10 other travel agencies in Singapore. This “alliance” of agencies, which includes Planet Holidays, Trans-Star and Global Holidays, involves bringing together their resources and operations to offer similar travel packages.

Lim explains: “In the past, if the agency couldn’t get a big enough group together, we would have to cancel the trip and the client wouldn’t be happy. It’s easier.”

Celebrity tours led by local TV hosts, actors or radio DJs are also an emerging trend, says Kelly Toh, tour manager for marketing and public relations at CTC Travel.

“We’ve been working with these hosts for a while. Because this ‘celebrity tour’ is so popular, we created a program where our own general manager leads two tours a year, and it works really well. Last year, he brought a group of 130 people to Jordan,” she said.

Chen Bin, managing director of CTC Travel, leads tour groups to off-the-beaten-path destinations such as Okinawa and Mongolia, where participants can enjoy interactive and engaging activities such as group meals and games.

These tours not only provide customers with a more unique travel experience, but also foster a sense of familiarity and friendship with the travel agency. Several clients have followed Chen’s travels over the years, Toh said.

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