What does participation in the “Open South” program give to agencies?
How to attract tourists to the Black Sea when the sea is cold? Many agents cannot answer this question and are afraid to sell the Russian south during the “off season”. In vain! Special preferential health improvement programs for Russians in the off-season help stimulate demand (this is especially important against the backdrop of a pandemic). The oldest of these is the Open South. Valery Sychev, Deputy General Director of the ROSYUGKURORT Resort Association, explains how it works.
The Open South program has been operating since 2004 and gives Russians the opportunity to undergo spa treatment at reduced rates during the off-season, and agents – to make money on it. This is the only program that works only through the agent network: you cannot buy a ticket directly to the sanatorium using it. We offer not just a set of open source software, but exclusive prices for a number of objects on the Black Sea coast.
In the 2020-2021 season, the minimum cost of a voucher is 1,500 rubles per person per day. The price is the same at all points of sale. It mainly includes three meals a day, accommodation in a standard room and, most importantly, treatment. Typically basic. But this is not just a dietary menu, health path and climatotherapy (stay at a resort in a subtropical climate). The client is waiting for an appointment with doctors and various procedures: physiotherapy, balneotherapy, showers, mud, etc.
Every year, the Open South program is used by 20 to 35 thousand people. The average duration of the trip is 12 days.
Aleksan Mkrtchyan, General Director of the network of travel agencies “Pink Elephant”
I have been participating in this program for several years and, in general, I am satisfied. A very good price allows you to attract tourists to Sochi in the off-season, when the Black Sea is cold. And people are willing to go. It is impossible to buy a ticket to a sanatorium directly at the price of the Open South program (it will cost not 2,500, but 4,000 rubles per day), only through tour operators and travel agents. This gives us the opportunity to make money in the middle difficult period. Here the tourist wins – he gets a low price, and the travel agent – he gets a commission, and sanatoriums – they get a fairly stable load.
Spa treatment has been gaining momentum in recent years. More and more young people are thinking that a healthy lifestyle is no longer enough to maintain health: diet and fitness are, of course, great, but it is time to take more serious measures and go through annually not only a check-up, but also health treatment.
At the same time, incomes of the population are declining, and many do not even consider the Black Sea coast, believing that it is too expensive. Open South helps to dispel this myth. Now about 24 sanatoriums participate in the program, but there were seasons when their number reached 42. We are constantly updating and adding participants, and our range allows us to adapt to any budget.
So, for 3,090 rubles per person per day, a voucher is available to the Sochi sanatorium, which belongs to the Presidential Administration and is located right in the city center. Or you can choose the Rodnik sanatorium in Anapa at a price of 1600 rubles. Yes, there will be less comfort in accommodation, but right on the territory there are three wells of mineral water, one of them is a source of drinking water. But in any case, it will always be a good treatment.
Yuri Yashchuk, director of the travel agency “Golden Domes”
This is a time-tested program and has no competitors yet. We received a good, demanded and even unique product, and we have been successfully selling it for many years. A fairly large selection of objects that are in demand among tourists: “Mishor”, “Ai-Petri”, “Rodnik”, “Yuzhnoe Vzmorie”, “Actor”, “Morskoy Priboy”, “Dyulber”. And great prices! There is an opportunity in the low season to offer tourists a very interesting product, which is designed for a long stay. And we already have regular customers who in advance ask for the “Open South” in the offseason. These are mainly people closer to retirement age. But there are a lot of younger people (35–45 years old) who want to improve their health.
Now with cashback
Any travel agency and any tour operator can become a partner of the program. It is enough to conclude a regular agency agreement according to the standard scheme, register in the online system and you can sell. The agent’s remuneration, depending on the object and the level of sales, is from 10 to 14%.
We also give our partners the opportunity to take part in the cashback program for tours around Russia and make money on it. The scheme is as follows: we, as an operator, actually draw up a deal with a tourist directly, but at the same time the agent receives remuneration for finding a client and his consultation under the Open South program – on average from 8 to 12%. The commission is reduced because the agent does not participate in acquiring transactions, we bear these costs. But at the same time, vouchers sold through cashback are taken into account in the total sales of the agent.
Sergey Romashkin, general director of the tour operator “Dolphin”
When the program began, we were somewhat skeptical about its prospects, because both officials and businesses had a lot of such projects (“how to sell off-season”) over the past 20 years. But Open South is one of the rare occasions when critics have been defeated and the program has truly become a strong regional brand. It is well known to tourists. There is a fairly serious selection of objects from the best health resorts in Sochi, the overwhelming majority are leaders in demand, for example, Zapolyarye, Bridge Resort, Knowledge. And many people ask them precisely within the framework of this program. In winter, we have about 30% of sales in the region in the “Open South”. This is a very good indicator, and it can grow as new objects are added.