Getting Comfort at a Better PriceBy Jan Hogewoning | Mon, 06/01/2020 - 08:58
Q: Why are pre-booked travel plans still an attractive option in the age of increased mobility and instant access to information?
A: The tourism sector continues to grow annually. To give you a spectacular statistic: in 1950, about 25 million people traveled internationally. Today, that number has risen to over 1.5 billion annually. For this reason, we are very optimistic. There are different kinds of tourists. Some are the more adventurous type while others want to plan ahead. We work with the travel package model, and we still think this has value. Your stays are booked, you have someone accompanying you, and you know you are going to see the places you want to see. The model offers a very good price. Arranging trips like ours individually is more expensive than in a group. Additionally, experiences like visiting the Vatican Museum are far more accessible through group travel.
Living in this age of the internet, we do see that travelers want and have more information. Now you have to sell Europe with a full spectrum of experiences. We adapt to this by doing better research ourselves and keeping updated about all the cultural events going on at our destinations. I believe this has only enriched travel. For our clients, the journey starts in the booking phase and ends with memories of their experiences.
Q: In what segment are your principal clients?
A: Around 80 percent of our clients are above 35 years old. In many cases, the trip is a family occasion, where parents can show Europe to their children, for example. Having an organized vacation is not only comfortable, it is also practical. The language barrier in some countries remains significant. Not everybody speaks English, German, Italian and French. Traveling with professionals from the service industry makes it a pleasant experience because they can anticipate issues and make everything run smoothly. These operators, who do everything on the ground, are our principal partners.
Q: To what extent do you offer flexibility in your travel plans?
A: Our packages are for 12, 13, 18 and 22 days. However, we also allow people to combine packages, navigating different countries and cities. We almost adapt them fully to the wishes of our clients. People can choose the time and place where they want to start and finish. People can leave on a Wednesday and come back on Sunday the following week and have a full trip in different countries. Some people want to see just a single country, like Spain, Peru or Canada. We can offer this adaptability because we have a wide network of collaborations. One factor that helps is that the world is becoming increasingly interconnected, with more connections between cities and places. We pride ourselves in knowing and offering what our clients want. For example, we are the only tour operator that has Mont Saint Michel in France in our regular package, whereas other tour operators only offer this destination on an optional basis.
Q: What is your offer in the Mexican market and what challenges are unique to Mexican travel?
A: In Mexico, two of our destinations are Chiapas and Chihuahua. We organize trips that have all dimensions: nature, history and culture. In these two destinations you have everything you could imagine. Another destination we work with is Puebla. Here you have the Tehuacan-Cuicatlan Biosphere, the historical town of Cholula, and many gastronomy festivals. Generally, the areas in which we operate are established travel destinations.
Q: What impact have large travel booking platforms had on your business?
A: Having been in existence since 1968 has brought us a certain expertise and reputation. In addition, we are unique in some aspects. Nobody in Mexico offers our kind of packages, and we are a Mexican operator active in Europe. I believe that big travel platforms present an opportunity for us because they can implement our travel packages into their platform. They offer travel for all niches, and one of them is our product. There is a large group of people who book on these platforms that are simply in a different niche. In addition, many people still want to buy their trips directly from a travel agency as opposed to an electronic platform, which also requires a credit card. Indeed, we are working on a collaboration with several platforms. They are discovering that we are an opportunity for them too.
PE-TRA is a Mexican travel agency that has organized travel packages for over 50 years. Apart from Mexico, its destinations include countries in Central and South America, the Caribbean, North America, Europe and the Middle East.