For more than 38 years, Pacific Delight Tours has been delighting travelers to Asia with its emphasis on expertise throughout the region—from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, to Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand and neighboring hotspot destinations such as Vietnam and Cambodia, as well as Singapore and exotic South Asia destinations in India.
More importantly, from day one, Pacific Delight Tours has zeroed in on product throughout these countries that can provide the kind of luxury and deluxe experience that appeals to the most bulletproof kind of client in the travel marketplace—the high-end and cultural traveler—a formula that’s not only led to almost four decades of consistent growth, but also the ability to survive and even thrive despite destination disasters, as well as socio-political and economic downturns that have bedeviled lesser companies.
Even in today’s challenging economic times, explains Larry Kwan, long-time industry veteran and Asia industry icon, who recently returned to Pacific Delight Tours to assume the role of president, “Fortunately, we haven’t been hit as badly as some others because of our specialty and expertise in the area. We have always been within our core business and our comfort zone. We did not attempt to go into other areas where we are not comfortable with or competitive enough,” he says. “We stayed with what we are good at and it paid off, thanks, in large part, to our loyal travel agent partners.”
Kwan has five decades of travel industry management experience that includes more than 27 years working with the late Francis Luk to build up Pacific Delight Tours, joining the company in 1973 as senior v.p. After Pacific Delight Tours, Kwan served as president of Far & Wide’s Asia division from 2001-2003, then became v.p. of the Asia division for Travel Bound until 2005 before entering semi-retirement.
He points out that from a savvy travel agent’s perspective, “…luxury clients are a valued commodity in an economy where mass market travel is shifting to the Internet. While budget-conscious travelers are being lured away left and right by deals that seem too good to be true, discerning luxury travelers stick with their trusted counselors to ensure quality experiences. And these agents stick with the specialist they have always relied on to give those clients an experience that will keep them returning for future trips.”
With the company’s breadth of product throughout Asia that offers the prospect of a host of niche product sales, combined with a group and special interest sales department headed up by industry veteran Lily Mui, who also began her career with Pacific Delight Tours in 1973 and where she’s been responsible for group planning, sales and pricing for the last 33 years, agents have the opportunity to sell some pretty high ticket group programs ranging from culinary and photography interests, to cultural, historical and more.
Still, says Kwan, “China’s our main focus, of course, and the river cruise is still extremely popular. That’s why destination-wise, our focus next year will be very much like this year, with some additions and a lot more on luxury and the deluxe type of travel—that’s what I hope to do, regain that market position in that sense. As you know currently, as you can see from the trade and advertisements, they’re all geared to budget travel and price consciousness and all that. But I think that luxury and deluxe travel is still going to be very strong.” As a result, he adds, “I’m trying to put a little more emphasis and focus in that respect.”
The company, too, is very much aware of what’s going on in today’s marketplace and they’re adjusting their luxury product accordingly. “The only thing that is changing now is that we are in a more competitive market so we are coming up with new ways to add extra little moments of a more personalized nature to further differentiate ourselves as the undisputed market leader in sophisticated luxury travel for Asia,” Kwan explains. “Our extensive expertise and relationships with hotels and restaurants in the region have been a boon to us in this regard and have enabled us to succeed in a very difficult economy.”
To do that, the company’s not-so-new president says, “Having the retail agents know our product is one of the basics we work with. In other words, we have to get them seminars, train them, talk to them and explain to them what our product line is going to be—that’s why we have all these people in the field, to go around doing that and introducing our product.” To do that, he adds, “FAMs, seminars—whatever tools that we can use, that’s what we intend to do, to go all out [for agents]. They are very important to us, of course.”