Last year we published the results of our Inaugural Tour Operator Survey and the information that we gathered was so helpful at shedding light on some of the challenges regarding the annual contracting process within the tourism industry that we decided to expand on the questions we asked and do it again this year.  We hope the results and analysis below will provide transparency into the process and help suppliers and tour operators understand how detrimental this inefficiency is to their businesses. Be sure to also take a look at our 2015 Supplier Survey Results, as well, to get the supplier perspective.final2 (4)-1

Basic Information and Demographics

We had tour operators from 17 countries, covering all 7 continents, complete our survey which allowed us to have a much more global insight into the challenges in the tourism industry as a whole. Here are some of the basic stats regarding the number of suppliers each tour operator has as well as the number of products that the tour operators are loading into their booking reservation systems.products loadedAs you can see, almost 70% of tour operators have between 1 and 250 suppliers that are sending them annual contracts while 4.3% of tour operators receive rates from more than 1,500 Suppliers. 64% of tour operators are loading between 1 and 500 products every year while 4% have to load over 10,000 products into their reservations system. While loading 500 products on an annual basis may not seem like too much of a burden, in reality, this is extremely time-consuming because of the way their partners submit their contracts.

Business Partners

The next part of our survey was around the way that tour operators manage these business partners. We asked them whether or not they would like more suppliers and if they could quickly produce a list of all of their suppliers contact information.61 want more suppliersWe found that 61% of tour operators would like to have more suppliers as business partners. You would think that this number would be higher, maybe even 100%, but the truth is that some tour operators have such a niche market that they don’t want to expand and others are already so overwhelmed that they could not handle anymore suppliers. Interestingly, regardless of whether they want more suppliers or not, 45% of tour operators could not quickly produce a current list of their suppliers’ contact information. We discussed this problem in more detail in our blog about up-to-date contacts.

Annual Rate Contracting

The last section of our survey had to do with the way that tour operators are receiving annual contracts from their suppliers. Probably the most important thing to take note of is the many different formats and methods of delivery that tour operators are forced to dissect in order to get products rates are receivedIt is mind boggling that there is not a standardized way of sending annual rates in the tourism industry. Because of the fact that some suppliers are submitting rates in their own format and that the tour operator is receiving those rates by several different methods, this process can take a significant amount of time and effort from multiple people.67 x2We found that 67% of tour operators are spending more than 30 days loading their suppliers’ rates into their reservation system and that 17% need at least 6 months to get all of the products loaded! Only 33% of tour operators were able to have 1 person load all of the products and that 22% required a team of between 5 and 7 people to get all of the products loaded.83 and 9583% of tour operators have to also deal with receiving rate contracts with missing information or incomplete data. That means that they have to either follow up with the supplier to get the information they need or discard that supplier’s products altogether. Even if a tour operator manages to get all of their suppliers’ products loaded successfully, 95% receive updates from their suppliers about changes in their products that have to then be manually adjusted in the tour operator’s reservations system. If 83% of tour operators are receiving rates with missing information, it make you wonder whether suppliers are taking time to fill them out correctly or if they are essentially just “spamming” anyone that could potentially sell their products.

With all of the time and energy spent loading rates, you would at least expect the final outcome to be one that is reliable and accurate. Once again, we were surprised by the results.61 incorrectly61% of tour operators have lost money because of incorrectly loaded rates and 33% have this happen multiple times per year. Not only are tour operators losing money from errors and inefficiencies, but they are also suffering from a tarnished reputation. For more information about this burden, you can read our blog Confusion, Upset Customers and Burned Money.

At TourConnect, our goal is to continue to provide insightful information and even better solutions to help our industry.  We’d love to hear your ideas and feedback so we can incorporate them into future surveys and the services we provide.  Please share your comments and keep up to date on our latest research and solutions via Facebook or Twitter.

Mike Herrmann

Author Mike Herrmann

After beginning his career in technology, Mike moved to Sydney in 2004 to start Bonza Bike Tours. His unique combination of experience in software development and tourism helped form the vision for TourConnect. While wearing out the airspace between the US and Australia, Mike has also become an expert in sleeping in uncomfortable chairs and B-grade movies.

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