On the eve of the first tourist exhibition of the summer season “Know Ours!”, Which will be held from March 10 to April 2, Profi.Travel conducted a survey of travel agents on Russian tourism products. The respondents were 297 specialists from different regions of Russia, Profi.Travel subscribers. We found out what product the retail needs, what difficulties it experiences in its selection and implementation, what information is lacking. Here’s what happened.
In 2020, much has been said and written about how circumstances are forcing travel agents to change. The approach to serving tourists now has to be more flexible, up to the independent formation of a tourist product – at least in Russia. That is, each agent, in fact, must become a tour operator for domestic tourism, otherwise the client will inevitably go on an independent voyage. However, the Profi.Travel poll showed that the classic “tour operator-travel agent” model is not going to give up its positions even in this segment. Almost 78% of travel agents are guided by a ready-made tourist product, waiting for information about tours and prices from tour operators before the start of the season.
A chance for regions and niche operators
A third of the survey participants found the assortment of package tours in Russia insufficient. And this deficit is so tangible that travel agents seem ready to cheat on their usual suppliers.
Although almost all travel agents have been engaged in domestic tourism since 2020, only a small part of Russia accounted for more than 50% of sales. And the lack of package tours seems to be one of the reasons for that.
This means that we can assume with a high degree of probability that sellers will expand the list of partners in order to compensate for this shortage.
If 43% of respondents traditionally count on manufacturers of the federal level, then most of them are already considering cooperation with tour operators of any scale – it would be a good product. And 4% even highlight regional host companies as suppliers. The figures indicate that travel companies in the regions have good chances of cooperation with retail not only from neighboring streets, but also from other regions.
The structure of the exhibition “Know Ours!” was built in such a way that it was possible to establish partnerships both with representatives of the tourism administrations of the regions and local business – tour operators, hotels and other infrastructure facilities. By the way, participation in the summer exhibition “Know Ours!” have already been confirmed by the Altai Territory, the Altai Republic and the Rostov Region. They will act as partners. The Krasnoyarsk Territory, Sochi, Irkutsk, Penza, Tomsk Regions, Udmurtia and the Krasnaya Polyana resort will also present their products. The list of participants is constantly growing.
The old way is no longer possible, but the new has not yet been born
71% of respondents need information about accommodation facilities. And this information should be expert and objective – taking into account all the pros and cons of the object, the respondents noted.
The increased interest in accommodation facilities on the part of travel agents is also due to the fact that they are often the “weak link” in the structure of the regional tourism product. Travel agents are worried about the lack of civilized working mechanisms for cooperation with the tourist market in many hotels, which have already become an almost generally accepted standard in world tourism practice. Among the problems with hotels are called the provision of discounts to direct tourists, “poaching” customers, sudden cancellation of reservations without notice, unbalanced pricing policy.
According to the head of the analytical center Profi.Travel Nadezhda Ebel, these cases are evidence of a change in the model of work in the tourism industry. “We are now crossing a watershed,” she says, “and the coming years will show what kind of business model the agencies will have. Now retail is simply forced to focus mainly on ready-made packages, since direct channels between Russian hotels and small travel companies, even with tour operator licenses, have not been built. There are also objective reasons – for example, the lack of digitalization in the required volume. Outside the big cities, accommodation is still often booked by phone. The project with cashback, of course, accelerated the process of transition to modern technologies, but so far we are only at the beginning of the road to reorganize the domestic tourist market. “
More than half of the retail representatives surveyed last year faced a lack of a decent base for tourist accommodation in the region chosen for travel and a shortage of rooms during the peak season.
We will talk about what to do in such cases within the framework of one of the discussions on the business program of the Know Ours! Exhibition. Together with the experts, we will develop algorithms for finding alternatives and retaining customers in the face of a shortage of accommodation during the high season.
Not a single beach
Of course, tourists most often ask travel agents to send them to the sea. The results of the poll confirmed this once again. But here’s what is noteworthy: almost half of the respondents are also disposed to work with excursion tours in Russia, a little less – 44%, sell health recreation, for obvious reasons, it is now in demand among tourists. The analytical center Profi.Travel observes a tendency of increasing interest in “non-beach” trips in the process of researching the dynamics of tourist traffic to different regions of our country.
The results of the same survey indicate that more than 70% of travel market professionals are ready to open new, untouched destinations for their tourists. Many of them have accumulated solid expertise during their work. Those regions that will be able to assess and use the potential of professional retail will receive not only competent PR of their direction and reliable ambassadors of the region, but also additional tourists who will understand in advance what to expect from their vacation.
The survey confirmed the trend that many businesses are facing – travel agents are not ready for long-term planning. Only 35% of respondents answered that they need analytical information on the tourism market and forecasts for the upcoming season. Well, the pandemic has taught us to be careful. However, we dare to assume that the ability to work with analytics is the skill that retail also has to master if it expects to build a sustainable business. And the fact that this 35% is there is a good sign for the tourist market.