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Working with Receptive Tour Operators

The normal route for European or Asia Pacific tour operators booking Canadian product is to purchase it from a receptive operator, such as Anderson, Jonview, JAC, Discover Holidays, JTB (Japan) , Prime World Tours (Korea), CYTS (China) or Brewster. There may be some avenues with these sorts of companies that your attraction might consider exploring first before you spend dollars going into the market on your own.

* A receptive operator is a Canadian‐based tour operator specializing in Canadian tourism experiences and products. The receptive operator represents Canadian tourism suppliers’ products to tour operators in international markets.

* There are 2 types of receptive tour operators: Inbound Receptive Operator – based in Canada, often with sales representatives in international locations, selling a range of Canadian product to international tour operators. Eg Jonview.

* Local Receptive Operator – based where the product is (i.e. Alberta), having working relationships with local tourism suppliers and with regional tourism organizations and Travel Alberta. eg. Brewster, Anderson Tours

* Receptive operators produce a listing of all of their destinations and tourism suppliers in a publication known as a tariff. They offer the ability to purchase these products individually or within a range of suggested packages or itineraries. Receptive operators create packages based on demand from tour operators and at the suggestion of local and provincial tourism offices.

* Receptive tour operators deal almost exclusively with international tour operators and/or wholesalers. Wholesalers do not sell directly to the consumer; they purchase the tour product and then resell it to a tour operator who sells to the consumer directly and/or through travel agents. This “layering” of receptive/wholesaler/tour operator occurs in limited markets. In most markets, the receptive sells to tour operators who sell directly to the consumer and/or through travel agents.

* The benefit of working with a receptive operator is that Alberta tourism suppliers can have their products featured in thousands of brochures in countries all over the world at virtually no cost to the tourism supplier. This can eliminate the need for expensive sales missions to foreign countries.

* While the benefits of having a receptive sell your product are many, Alberta suppliers must be aware of the financial ramifications of working with receptive operators. Receptive operators will ask for credit terms. Be sure that you can accommodate these terms and still continue to operate your business effectively. Usually a receptive will have a credit application available and can send it to a supplier for verification. Once credit is established, a receptive is able to work more efficiently and payment should be received within 30 to 45 days after the receipt of invoice from the supplier.

How can you work with a receptive operator?

1. Research who the receptive operators are in Alberta, there are also many located in Vancouver, and in Toronto/Montreal.

2. Determine what products and tourism experiences they represent

3. Understand the types of tourism product and experiences they seek

4. Know where their clientele comes from

5. Establish their current business volumes and potential

6. Advise your local DMO and Travel Alberta contacts that you are interested in working with Receptive Tour Operators

7. Establish a relationship with the operator, and keep informed with a customized approach specific to their needs.

8. Seek opportunities to get involved with Fam trips and other sales efforts through your DMO and/or Travel Alberta

9. Establish confidence with the operator that you will accommodate the needs of their clients

10. Ensure you have an efficient booking and inquiry response system in place

11. Be able to offer inventory in peak as well as shoulder season

12. Be prepared to offer suitable commission levels. Establish whether you will offer a “net” rate or a “commissionable” rate to the operator. If offering a “net” rate, ensure that it is at least 20% lower than your retail rate

13. Ensure that your rates are competitive

14. Provide high‐impact, high‐resolution images for sales tools

15. Offer reasonable inventory release dates

16.Deliver what was promised. Consumer protection laws, particularly in the international market, stipulate that the customer must receive what they were promised

17. Lastly, establish your rates at least 12‐18 months in advance to accommodate the operator planning cycle. If you cannot attend the tradeshows that tour operators participate in, use the lead forms that Travel Alberta creates after each major marketplace to do some follow‐up on your own. **Remember that if a tour operator likes your product, they can request that a receptive list you in their tariff, so follow‐up with them is extremely important!

If you go to industry.travelalberta.com, you will find the leads from all of the marketplaces Travel Alberta has attended in the past couple of years. Send them a letter of introduction and a brochure and invite them to have a look at your website.

Working with receptives and the overseas markets require a long‐term investment and patience, but can be worthwhile. If you have any questions on how we might be better able to assist you or if you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time.

Mr. Joseph Volk
Market Development Director, Vancouver 
Joesph.Volk@TravelAlberta.com
P: 604‐818‐0907
Travel Alberta