22 November 2002
Leading tour operators have urged South-east Asia's
travel trade to focus their efforts on ensuring a good
start to the January/February peak season in the UK and
Lending his weight to the call of Kuoni UK's Sue Biggs
to prepare for a big push with aggressive promotions and
attractive prices in the new year, Chris May, managing
director, Hayes & Jarvis said the industry must be
clever in matching pricing with promotion.
"Price and promotion must work together. When things get
bad, that's when I spend money. Start spending your money
in January and February - that's the peak booking season,
that's when the customer decides where to go."
On price offers, May urged suppliers, particularly in
Bali, not to do anything till January and February. "If you
go out now with a price message, you add fuel to the fire.
Don't try to push water up the hill. No matter what you do,
you won't get the business back now. Wait till things
settle down and then use price and promotions
Chris Lee, who will leave the Tourism Authority of
Thailand next month to join Travelmood as commercial
director, responsible for Asia, also urged suppliers to
prepare for January and February. "Let's get ready for
that, just as we did after September 11. Be prepared to go
in with a big bang in January."
Lee said TAT's 9-11 strategy worked. "We will be up
eight percent in UK arrivals in 2002, the results are
Where Lee differs from Biggs is on the issue of straight
price cuts. The two locked horns last year after September
11 when Kuoni UK pushed for price cuts from Thailand and
Lee directed Thai suppliers to hold steady on prices, a
directive most followed.
"Price cuts are wrong. After 911, it wasn't rates that
got it going, it was the warm and welcoming Thai
hospitality," said Lee.
Lee advised suppliers, "Prepare your direct mail, your
advertising campaign, your tactical offers. Plan media fams
and agent fams. Prepare your plan. Marketing is about
Lee however is not against throwing in more value and
added incentives, a point that Eppo Steenhuisen of Boabab
Reizen in Netherlands agrees with. "I am not a great fan of
lowering prices, more a believer in long stay incentives,"
said the Dutch adventure operator.
Steenhuisen said rock bottom prices attracted
hit-and-run operators who "come in and destroy your
destination and leave when prices rise".
Citing Egypt, which was used by Biggs as an example of
how a destination recovered business post-the Luxor
massacre with a campaign called "I wish I could be in
Egypt" coupled with price offers, Steenhuisen said, "We had
a hard time in Egypt when the prices hit rock bottom and it
was almost for free. We are finding it hard to get Egypt on
the market again."
Meanwhile, May also urged South-east Asia's travel trade
to show the same unity as British tour operators in
protecting business to the region.
He said the Bali crisis proved how united tour operators
in the UK were. "Within a day of Bali, we were all singing
the same tune. No one is looking for competitive advantage
in this situation."
The same unity, he said, must be shown by South-east
Asia and the region must protect its market share in the UK
longhaul market. "Hayes & Jarvis and Kuoni operate
worldwide programmes. Business to the Caribbean and Indian
Ocean has leapfrogged, they are the big winners. But we
have to maintain an even spread of business." said May.
He said it was vital the region protect its market share
as business once lost was difficult to recover.