SINGAPORE – Local travel agencies will get more help in updating their business models to stay relevant, against the backdrop of changing travel preferences and the growth of online booking sites.
On Friday (November 16th), the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and the Singapore National Travel Agents Association (Natas) announced several initiatives, including an online resource center for travel agencies, as well as programs to help them tackle the issues related to workforce and to dream of new business models.
The tourism industry is one of Singapore's leading tourism industries, offering over 10,000 jobs to residents with about 1,200 licensed tour operators here, said STB Executive Director Keith Tan in a talk at the Travel Agent Industry Forum Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Center.
However, changes in consumer travel habits combined with the competition of various players such as online reservation websites that consumers and travel product providers can have direct access have influenced business models and the sustainability of travel agents " , said STB travel agencies and director of Ong Ling Lee travel guides.
Industry, however, has the potential to grow if it can adapt to these changes, by revising business models, by using technologies and by improving labor force skills, Ms Ong said.
An example was announced at the forum – a group of walking and cycling operators who joined the groups to form a new Alliance Tour Operators.
Cycling around the civic district and zipping through the alleys of Kampong Glam in a Vespa sidecar are examples of day trips that have grown in popularity among both tourists and locals, say members, including Monster Tours Day, Let's Go Tour Singapore, Singapore Sidecars, Ruby Dot Trails and Tribes.
Monster Day Tours, which offers free walking tours through the historic city districts, as well as theme tournaments starting at $ 80, see up to 50 people taking part in daily tournaments, from just two or even one the day it started in May (2017).
Corporate clients also head for private tours, said founder Suen Tat Yam.
Bandaging together with other similar tourism operators helps them to increase their scope and capabilities, for example by sharing tourist guides, said Mr. Suen.
"People always say that one or two days is enough to (visit) Singapore, but if we combine our day tournaments, we can create multi-day tournaments that offer different experiences," he said.
Let's Go co-founder of the tour, Robin Loh, said the alliance will help smaller players compete, allowing them to collaborate and sell more tournaments.
The four-year business tour, which offers bicycle tours and cooking classes that include excursions to the wet market, saw a 15-20% increase in sales each year, said the other co-founder Daniel Tan.
"Today's tourists are more demanding, especially younger travelers looking for something more experimental than the typical bus tour," said Tan, who added that cooking classes are also popular among locals.