“Industry Q&A” Featuring Fatima Hammouche of Tourico HolidaysJanuary 4, 2018 | By: Karyl Leigh Barnes
In this installment of our ongoing Industry Q&A series, we chat with Fatima Hammouche, Regional Manager of Sales/Canada for Tourico Holidays, a wholesale travel distribution company that provides travel products, services and technological solutions to B2B clients around the world. Fatima discusses how political volatility across the globe affects travel providers and shares her expertise on the Canadian market.
Q: What is the most significant travel trend or consumer behavior that is changing the way you do business?
A: Changing demographics, global events, and politics all affect the way travel companies do business. For instance, a single event that creates a climate of uncertainty in a market can slow down travel significantly. When unfortunate events outside of our control happen, we have to move quickly to amend our marketing approach. We don’t want to abandon the destination, so we try to maintain some level of support. For example, following the recent hurricanes on the East Coast, we launched campaigns to support Florida by encouraging travel to the state via special promotional offers. Destinations and their partners who can quickly work with us to provide what we need directly benefit from our marketing efforts when they need it the most.
Internally, clients are looking for more sophisticated technology and support. Our new Olympus X proprietary platform helps travel distribution clients improve inventory accuracy, identify hotel deals with the highest profit margins, and increase sales. Olympus X also allows us to view client inventory and bookings and offer sales support.
Q: Before adding a new program or itinerary to your product portfolio, what factors do you consider?
A: It always comes down to identifying our customers’ specific needs and figuring out how best to meet them. In every case we try to:
- Determine what would be the most attractive program to our customers
- Identify the best way to position the product in each market
- Target the most effective distribution channels to maximize market penetration.
Because we’re working globally, there’s always a demand for certain areas. When it’s high season here, it’s low season there, so we shift business. For our exclusive deals, we find key properties, key deals and key destinations where we will pre-buy room blocks at a hotel to guarantee us the best rate and provide protection against our competitors and the B2C market. We take a lot of risk, but it’s risk that has a lot of advantages, and it’s been our bread and butter since we started the company.
Q: How do you integrate social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest) into your marketing efforts?
A: Maintaining an active social media presence helps us attract leads and establish trust. Social media is also a great way to leverage the company’s presence in conferences, trade shows and other important events.
Q: What can DMOs do better when working with your organization?
A: Since a travel wholesaler’s primary business is to provide the best available travel products and services to its clients, a mutually beneficial way for DMOs to work with a wholesaler is for DMOs to promote existing travel packages within the wholesaler’s product/service lines. For us, that means working with hotels with a B2B focus.
Q: What advice would you give DMOs looking to enter the Canadian market?
A: As they would when entering any new market, DMOs need to make sure their offerings stand out against the local competition, are adaptable and are tailored to the needs of local customers. It helps to have local partners who have a better understanding of the source market and their travel needs.
Q: What is the key to success for a FAM trip held in partnership with a destination?
A: There are three important components of a successful FAM trip:
- Education: FAM participants and stakeholders must understand that these are marketing events and that all FAM trips, regardless of how entertaining they may be, are still business-related.
- Communication: Everyone involved in a FAM trip should know the ground rules. This means that participants must have itineraries, contact numbers and detailed instructions about the elements of the trip.
- Expectation: All parties need to understand that FAM trips are done with the expectation that increased knowledge about the destination will result in increased business. After that, it comes down to making sure the customer has an excellent experience; FAM trips need to be fun and relaxing as well as productive.
Also, it’s important to feature a destination’s unique activities or attractions, not just the best-known ones. I’ve done some activities that I will always remember because I had never thought of doing them in that particular destination before.
About Tourico Holidays
A wholesale travel distribution company with more than 800 employees around the world, Tourico Holidays has 2,000 B2B clients in 169 countries, and works with over 6,500 destinations across the globe. Following a high-volume wholesale model, Tourico contracts directly with travel providers, such as hotels, flights, cruise lines, attractions, car rentals and vacation homes. A recent merger that places Tourico and GTA within the Hotelbeds Group is designed to provide best-in-class technology and distribution expertise for all of the organizations’ partners.