With age, comes experience and there are very few tour operators today with the kind of experience SITA World Tours has acquired over the past 79 years, bringing literally thousands of travelers to exotic destinations around the globe.
The company started off in the 1930s hosting domestic travel in the U.S. at a time when few Americans even thought about traveling. Since then, it’s matured into one of the largest global tour operators in the country, specializing in custom, high-end travel.
“We are primarily a deluxe-luxury tour operator to exotic destinations worldwide. We are focused on providing the best in customer service, starting from the agent’s inquiry, all the way through while clients are in the destination and return,” explains Laudie Hanou, v.p., SITA World Tours. “In fact, SITA is renowned for its highly experienced team of travel specialists and is dedicated to travel excellence in every element of its programs,” she adds. “We now also offer over 60 destinations and have just introduced a budget-oriented brand named Affordable India. These are competitively priced fi rst class programs being offered at an exceptional value.”
It’s that kind of fl exibility and the company’s willingness to react to the demands of the marketplace and the demands of its travel agent distribution system that makes SITA World Tours stand out in the industry. They were, in fact, Hanou says, one of the fi rst tour operators to react to the growth of the home-based travel agent component and its reliance on Internet marketing.
“The growth of home-based agents is leading to increased use of online brochures and online marketing tools, all available at SITA’s Travel Agent Services site via the web,” Hanou explains. “It’s an exciting time in the industry overall. We remain focused on innovation, not duplication, a key theme within our operation and how we prepare for the company’s continued growth.”
To accomplish that, SITA has made signifi cant strides in technological advancements they feel will not only enhance effi ciencies for their travel agent distributors and clients, but for their suppliers as well, making the entire travel marketing component as effi cient and effortless as possible. The result is the development of a new online web portal and booking program that’s geared to streamline 24/7 operations for their travel agent and consortium partners which they will be unveiling soon.
“The launch of SITA’s web portal is called Globetrack. This new agent online booking engine will allow the fl exibility of booking SITA 24/7, a tool that the retail agent base and major consortiums that we are preferred with, have been seeking from SITA,” Hanou says. “The launch of this is scheduled for early spring. Agents are recommended to contact their local SITA sales manager for more details.”
SITA also keeps a sharp eye on destination demand patterns so they can react as quickly as possible to those demands, as well as product demands in terms of booking patterns, which have changed dramatically in the current economic environment.
“Africa has emerged as a leading destination for SITA World Tours; India remains strong and is now competing with SITA’s other destinations such as Asia and South & Central America,” Hanou says. In terms of new destination programs, she adds, “we are now offering Turkey, Russia and Israel. Due to SITA’s high repeat clientele, these destinations were born due to sheer demand.”
At the same time, she adds, “In the current marketplace, the product pattern has changed in that shorter programs and booking windows are most sought after, that, and the added value to each program that SITA provides. Our ability to customize and assist agents in closing both groups and FITs, is a critical service that we continue to offer.”
Indeed, it’s that commitment to the travel agent community that is at the core of the company commitment because historically, it’s what has kept them in business for nearly eight decades. “We remain committed to the travel agent. We work with them to increase their business. Our business development managers, throughout the nation, are focused on building relationships and opportunity through the agency network.”
And putting their money where their mouth is, Hanou says, “In addition to launching our agent online booking engine, we are also now providing travel agent appreciation bonuses up front, with any deposit. It is about working in good faith with agents that we partner with and whom will fi nalize that sale,” proving that, Hanou adds, “SITA continues to be a strong source for agents.”