Travel Trade Blog Series: Industry Q&A with Bruce Hodge of GowayJune 1, 2016
This month we sit down with Bruce Hodge, President and Owner of Goway Travel. Australian born and educated, Bruce arrived in Canada in 1970. Now, 46 years after founding the company, he remains at its helm, setting strategic direction and driving growth.
1. What trends in the leisure travel market are you noticing this year?
Within our own organization we have seen a definite increase in demand for up-market and luxury experiences.
2. What factors do you consider in order to add a new program/itinerary to your product portfolio?
EXPERIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE OF THE DESTINATION: Since 1970, Goway has built a reputation as specialists. While we offer many destinations (Africa, Asia, Europe, South Pacific, Central and South America and Idyllic Islands) we grow by adding specialist teams. When we officially launched Europe last year (we had already been selling the destination for years), we hired a knowledgeable Product Manager and sales staff who have sold and travelled extensively in Europe. We pride ourselves on our expertise and ability to custom tailor a trip to our destinations, based on our extensive experience.
PRICE: We negotiate pricing and offers that will provide value to travellers. For instance, we are the biggest North American supplier for Thompsons (South Africa) and through this great relationship are able to offer excellent pricing to the region. This is a model that we adopt for new destinations – will we be able to grow the business and partnership with our destination suppliers?
INTEGRITY: We grow by solidifying business relationships; working with trusted partners. Being honest and open, and “putting our cards on the table” – and above all knowing that when we select a supplier, we can rely on them looking after our travellers at the level that I expect from our staff.
3. What role, if any, do familiarization trips play in your program/itinerary decision making?
We’ve always invested in FAM trips – as a specialist it’s crucial for the team (whether marketing, sales, or product) to be up to date on new products and changes. When we recently launched Hangzhou to our China product range, we made the decision to send two senior level staff to ensure that the hotels, tours and experiences were the best we could find.
If we don’t invest in visiting the destination, we fall behind. That’s why you’ll find Goway at all of the major trade shows around the world (Indaba, ATE, WTM, and ITB) etc. We then take the opportunity for a quick update in person (some of our Product Team have been known to see up to 25 hotels in a day).
4. What have you found to be the most effective means for marketing your products?
We have an amazing database of potential globetrotters and past clients that has taken us decades to develop. This is supported by our “best friend” www.goway.com which works 24/7.
5. How do you integrate social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest) into your marketing efforts?
We use social media to educate travelers on great destinations. We focus on the passion for travel, rather than the logistics of a price offer. If we have a really good deal, we will send that out through social media. However, we find that people are more engaged with us when they discover a new destination or something new and unique that perhaps they had never considered.
6. Based on your experience so far, what can Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) do better when working with members of the travel trade or organizations like your own?
Appreciate and understand the potential of companies like Goway who are not “one trick ponies.” We have established contact lists and over 45 years’ experience selling all kinds of travel styles to different specialized destinations.
7. What advice would you give to DMOs looking to enter the North American market?
Be careful…really careful. Seek and employ experience that understands differences in countries and within countries e.g. Canada/USA; different markets e.g. luxury or budget. I have seen many DMOs get caught in bottomless pit traps, yielding dreadful results.
8. Which industry conferences/trade shows have you found most productive to reach your target clients?
Most industry conferences and trade show can be productive. How productive they are, as far as I am concerned, depends on how well you work them.
9. Is there any additional insight you’d like to share with our readers?
Although the Great Recession affected many companies and destinations, going forward I see awesome potential for growth pretty well everywhere.
About Goway Travel:
Since 1970, Goway Travel has been helping turn curious travellers into true Globetrotters, creating unique travel experiences covering Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and Latin America, along with idyllic islands and polar destinations around the world.
Goway, with offices in Toronto (head office), Vancouver, Los Angeles and Sydney, generates revenues in excess of $150 million. The company has evolved into one of North America’s largest travel companies.
Constantly evolving, Goway remains privately owned, coupling expert knowledge with a personal touch that’ll keep Globetrotters returning again and again.