A Discussion with Seawings – Day Tour Operator – Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Welcome to the Industry Insider blog series. The Industry Insider aims to highlight common challenges across the tourism industry. From sales to reservations to accounting to operations, we all strive to operate efficiently and profitably. At the core of TourConnect is a passion for uniting the industry around the solutions to these challenges.

Today, we look at a closer look at Seawings, a day tour operator that focuses on providing luxury scenic tours flying over the Middle East’s most iconic sights.  We spoke with Mr. Darren Brews, Seawings’ Corporate Communications Manager, to learn about the challenges they face in the tourism industry today.

What makes Seawings different from your competitors?

Seawings is the only seaplane tour operator in the Middle East.  We started operations in 2007 by providing scenic tours using seaplanes that take off and land on water.  It is important to us to deliver our service with a sense of luxury with space for up to 9 people on each flight, air-conditioned cabins, and a window seat for everyone.  There’s nothing else like it!

How do you manage all of your business relationships and keep them engaged in your company?

We have a dedicated sales team that has assigned accounts, locally and internationally.  In addition, we run periodic promotions that are distributed via emails to a comprehensive database.  This is a challenge, as it is hard to track which promotions generate the most interest, or if they were even considered at all.  We often run familiarization trips (famils) for our partners to get a taste of the experience we deliver.  It takes a lot of manpower to follow up on all of these special offers and famils to ensure they lead to bookings through our partners.  Finally, we distribute printed flyers on a monthly basis and use social media for consumers.

What advice would you give to a new company as they try to find and build relationships with new business partners?

Persistence is the key. Make sure you know your USP’s and are able to adapt your pitch to person you are sitting in front of. Passion for your business and knowing how you can add value to the new partners business is of course critical.

What is the most challenging or tedious part of your job on a day-to-day basis?

If you enjoy what you do, there is no tedious part, but if you had to pick on something, it would be waiting for responses expectantly and the constant follow that is required.  This happens in two ways.  First, when we meet a new partner and send over our product information, we consistently follow up to ensure they begin actually selling our product.  Next, when we send out special offers, we have to make sure that they not only get to our partners, but that they are actually using the special offers to drive sales.

What do the next five years have in store for Seawings?

We currently operate in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and plan to expand our operations to new locations and services across the UAE.  Charters to remote destinations is a growing segment for us, and we believe this is a great area for growth – specifically, we believe people are increasingly looking for something out of the ordinary.

Why did you decide to sign up for TourConnect? What do you hope to gain?

Seawings has signed up for TourConnect to not only grow the number of business partners we work with, but to also make it easier to work with our partners.  As it can be time-consuming to give our partners the attention they need, we want to make sure that this effort produces sales.  In other words, we want to make sure all of our partners find it easy to sell our products and use our special offers.

The TourConnect Take
Below, we break down the interview to share relevant experiences, analysis, ideas, and thought provoking questions with the industry.

Seawings has highlighted a challenge that I don’t believe gets enough attention.  Inbound tour operators, outbound tour operators, wholesalers, and agents are bombarded with special offers.  This means that even if an offer is great, it may get lost in the thousands of offers they get a month.  To make sure their offer doesn’t get lost, suppliers spend a significant effort to follow up with their partners and make sure the offers are being used.  So, how can we make it easier for special offers to be used in our industry – and produce more sales for everyone?

First, I think we need to understand the impact of the issue.  Special offers are designed to drive sales.  We put time and energy into creating offers that create great value for travelers, while still creating healthy revenue for both suppliers and distribution.  When offers are not being used, the great value doesn’t make it into quotes, which could be the difference between a sale or a quote that never sells.  In addition, the more we can offer travelers great deals, the more positive experiences they will have means more sales opportunities in the future.

I believe there is hope.  By recognizing that we can do better as an industry, we can begin to make changes for the better.  First, we can be open and honest with our partners about what we think will sell.  Why would you have a partner put the effort in to create a special offer, if it won’t be used.  Wouldn’t you rather that partner spend time that time serving your clients or driving sales in other ways?  Next, we can create a standard for how special offers are communicated and how we track if they are being used.  Finally, we can escape the burden that special offers have become and start focusing on how we can use special offers for what they were intended for…to drive sales.

darren brewsTourConnect would like to thank Darren at Seawings for taking the time to share their experiences and honestly addressing their challenges so that others have the ability to relate.

Have you or your company experienced these challenges?  How have you addressed them?  Comment below so we can all learn and relate.

Would you like to be featured in an upcoming Industry Insider blog?  Send us your details, and we’ll be in touch soon.

We look forward to sharing more of these insightful interviews with our ongoing series, Industry Insider.  Be sure to follow us on Facebook or Twitter to stay up to date on all of our blog posts and system releases!

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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