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Touring Taiwan With Signature AgentsMarch 3, 2009 By: Mark Rogers
Mark Rogers flew into Taipei Tuesday morning to join Stella Travel Services global wholesaler Travel2 and close to 50 Signature Travel Network agents. The agents had explored Cambodia, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam or Hong Kong and Macau before convening in Taiwan to share their experiences.
Michael Londregan, president, Travel2; Steven T. Y. Kuo Su, deputy director-general, Taiwan Tourism Bureau Ministry of Transportation and Communications; Jean Chang, president of Golden Foundation Tours Corp.; and Mark Rogers, at the Taiwan Tourism Bureau Office in Taipei
I arrived in Taipei around dawn on an EVA Air flight from LAX. Michael Londregan, the president of Travel2, was on the same flight and we shared a ride to The Landis Taipei Hotel, where our group was being hosted. The Signature agents wouldn't be arriving until later that evening.
Michael explained the concept behind the fam, that it would familiarize agents with various destinations in Asia - a fast-growing region they couldn't afford to ignore. Bringing all of the agents together in Taiwan would give them a chance to share their experiences and information. We agreed that agents would value information other agents over spin from a public relations firm.
He also gave me some insights on the long haul market from the U.S, a market he describes as being a four-hour or longer flight. Londregan categorizes the market into four segments.
The Heritage or Roots Traveler is primarily interested in reconnecting with their homeland.
The Home-Away-From Home market is just looking for a change of scene. "Maybe they live in Seattle and want a change from the cold weather," says Londregan. "They're happy in a condo in Hawaii, where they won't be challenged by the unfamiliar."
The Comfort Adventurer wants to travel to an exotic locale, but they don't want to give up five-star comforts. "What to some people would be luxuries, these are necessities to Comfort Travelers," says Londregan. "We both agreed that a good example would be the Four Seasons tented camps in Chiang Rai, Thailand."
"The next market is the fastest growing one," says Londregan. "That's the Self-Challenger. These are independent travelers looking for authentic experiences and a meaningful connection with their destination."
Londregan explained that, from the point-of-view of Stella Travel and Travel2 , they're only interested in the Comfort Adventurer and the Self-Challenger. He then laid out how travel agents have to approach each of these markets in distinctly different ways. "With the Self-Challengers, agents have to communicate how they'll help make their travel aims come true," he said. "You'll turn them off if you hand them a detailed itinerary that doesn't take their ideas into account." He also said its key to communicate with this group before their departure, to provide them information and get them inspired about their trip.
As we pulled up to our hotel, Michael gave me the lowdown on the Comfort Adventurers. "With them, the opposite is true— they don't want to be bothered with excess information before their trip," says Londregan. "Instead, they want you to provide information once theyíre home that will help them boast about their experience to their friends."
Stay tuned for further reports from Taiwan. I'll be meeting the Signature agents later tonight and travel with them by high-speed train to visit Taroko Gorge, considered one of the must-see sights in Taiwan. The train ride will give me plenty of time to gather insights from the agents and share them with you.