Nurturing an International Client Base, with Sally Berry

Episode 118

podcast photo thumbnail
Sally Berry is a tourism industry expert who helps Destination Marketing Organizations prepare their destinations to be more competitive and attractions bring in more visitors. Sally has worked at a small family-owned attraction, a regional DMO and at the Corning Museum of Glass, a world-class museum in New York. She has spent time as a tour operator and also an adjunct college professor at Paul Smiths Travel and Tourism program. She now runs her own tourism consulting and training company. Sally was named one of the Top Ten Most Influential Women in the Group Tour industry from Groups Today magazine, May 2016, and a Top 20 Tourism Professional in the U.S. by, 2015. She served as a board member of the U.S. Travel’s Experience Network, formerly known as the Attractions Council. On this episode of Destination on the Left, Sally and I talk about the opportunities and challenges in the international tour group space, especially the China market. Her experience gives her insight into not only the growing market in Chinese tour groups and FITs but how to nurture relationships with tour operators and guides. She also offers some great tips on using relationship-building tools and social media to connect with these markets.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • Maximizing marketing time and dollars on your best clients and markets
  • How to manage international and domestic segments of your visitor base
  • How to make it easy for tour operators to choose your destination
  • Why the China market needs to be on your radar
  • Best practices for treating tour guides right

Narrow Your Focus

It’s tempting to just cast your nets wide and hope to catch a lot of travelers to your destination. But Sally encourages attractions and destinations to use the 80/20 rule. Find out who your top market segments or top repeat tour clients are, and focus 80 percent marketing time and energy on those groups. Narrowing your focus will sharpen your message and deepen your relationships with those groups. Sally has found that narrowing your focus actually increases traffic and dollars to your destination.

China Market

You might not think the market for Chinese tour groups is a good fit for your location. In the past, if you were beyond the “golden triangles” in the northeastern US or California in the west, the China market was a long shot. But Sally is seeing that change as more Chinese people look to travel and expand beyond those traditional areas of interest. Sally and I discuss a hugely popular Chinese social networking platform called WeChat, a huge tool for understanding and interacting with people and groups in the China market. There is a lot more great food for thought in this conversation. Sally suggests finding partners in the destinations guests are coming from and going to when they visit your attraction. But, also looking for partnerships with groups you might not think of at first. There is a world of co-opetition out there to explore and make use of.


Nicole Mahoney: 00:17 Hello listeners, this is Nicole Mahoney, host of destination on the left. I am passionate about travel and tourism and love learning from the experiences of professionals in the industry and that is why I’m so excited to introduce today’s guest, Sally Berry. After eight years as the global tourism manager at the Corning Museum of glass and time spent at a regional DMO and other attractions, Sally recently started a tourism consulting and training company. Kelly focuses on helping destinations and attractions get more visitors through their doors. She specializes in the China visitor market and helps her clients leverage we chat to reach this lucrative audience. I’m so excited to have you with me today, Sally.

Sally Berry: 01:00 Well, thank you and you know, I love listening to your podcast, so I’m extra excited

Nicole Mahoney: 01:05 on it. Yes. One. I appreciate you listening and you, you’re definitely have been a good supporter of the podcast and uh, and sharing us on social media, so I absolutely appreciate that. And you and I have actually known each other for a number of years, so I’m equally excited to have you on, um, just because of the, you know, the history that we have together and, and the parallel work that we’ve done within the finger lakes region. So I think this is going to be a really great conversation. Um, but even though I’ve known you for quite some time, our listeners have not. So what I’d like to do is ask you to tell us a little bit about your background and your journey in your own words.

Sally Berry: 01:41 Sure. Well, again, thank you and you know, my journey. I always say I was in the tourism industry long before I realized I was in the tourism industry and some of my favorite jobs in college. I was worked at a resort hotel up in the Adirondacks. And then in college I worked at a nature center and Audubon Center Nature Center. And it wasn’t until I became a corporate meeting planner and started seeing the opportunities that they realized there actually was a thing called the tourism industry. And had I known that back in the day, I maybe would have majored in it in college. But I got there eventually. And um, so I was a corporate meeting planner. That’s how I started. And then one of the places where I did some corporate events was a paddle wheel, steamboat in the finger lakes, that candidate green lady. And they went from there as a meeting planner to become the director of sales at the candidate was lady.

Sally Berry: 02:33 And then went from there to become the program director at a regional DMO, uh, where we represented 14 counties. And, um, after that, I spent a couple of years doing my own consulting. And uh, during that time there, I, I did some research studies. I worked with him, a receptive tour operator who specialized in bringing, uh, you pay in German visitors into the u s and I learned a lot about the international market there. And then as you, I was with the Corning Museum of glass for almost eight and a half years as the global sales manager. And, uh, it was a great facility to work for and I have an opportunity to learn a lot. And now my next chapter, I’m running my consulting company again. And as you mentioned, I really specialize in helping destinations and attractions become trying to ready because it’s such a growing market and there’s so many differences between any other market that I think I can help a lot of people buy by using my expertise.

Nicole Mahoney: 03:28 Yeah, I think, I think that’s great. I just love it when my guests talk about their college jobs or jobs that they had as a teenager and how that kind of brings them into the tourism industry. It’s just really great. Um, but I also think that um, your diverse background just brings so much, you know, different perspective. Everything from, you know, those early years at the hotel and the nature center to meeting, planning, you know, to working for the attractions and then even working at the regional, a DMO level just gives you so much more perspective. Dev at one of the things though, Sally, I’d like you to talk a little bit more about is the work that you did at Corning Museum of glass, because I know you really did become a leader, especially in this region in terms of, uh, working with travel trade and especially the international travel trade. And can you talk a little bit about, you know, what was your, your, uh, day to day or your year to year like they’re at Corning Museum of glass? Because I know it was pretty varied.

Sally Berry: 04:28 It was, and it was, it was different. Uh, when I was looking at the job from the outside thinking what I would be doing versus once I started working there, um, you know, I knew there was a lot of group tours coming in and that was one of the reasons I was hired because I had expertise with group tours already. But when I had worked at other facilities, there was one or two buses a day. So I would go out and I’ll get on the Boston, do a meet and greet with everyone and know, show everyone what they were going to see while they were visiting. And it became very quickly apparent that I was not going to be able to do that with the volume of buses we had at the museum. So it was, it was a real learning experience that I had to rely on other people to provide that level of service cause I wasn’t really going to be that person anymore.

Sally Berry: 05:12 So it was, it was a big change for me to then start welcoming, you know, 20, 30 40 buses a day. It’s, so it was a whole different mindset. And my goal at that point became, you know, how do I keep the best relationships with the operators and then let my staff and the wonderful frontline staff do the meet and greets, do the excellent customer service of that. And so it was a bit of a mindset shift. And the other thing that I realized fairly quickly was it wasn’t just random groups of buses or wholesalers sending us groups, the majority of bus groups that came to the museum. We’re international. Um, you know, for anyone that doesn’t know where we’re located, we are in upstate New York. And the museum was located did just about halfway between New York City and Niagara Falls. So many groups that were started in New York City, we were the perfect halfway stop, not only to get out and see an interesting place and you know, watch a live hot glass show, but I have lunch, do some shopping before they got on the bus to go to Niagara Falls and finish out their day.

Sally Berry: 06:11 So I had to learn a lot about the specific markets that came to museum figure out who to target. So, um, you have to be very efficient when you’re a sales department of two. So I had to really zero in on who is the best, the best markets to go after that would leverage the business the most. So it became a very strategic job very quickly.

Nicole Mahoney: 06:33 Yeah, I can, uh, I can appreciate that. And, and I’m, I’m glad that that’s where, you know how your answer, um, shaped from that question. I was hoping that that’s what you would be providing. Cause I’m sure some of our listeners, you know, might be thinking about we want to, we went to work in the group market or we already do work in the group market but we want to expand on it. And I think that um, you know, your perspective on how you approach that, especially at such a large attraction when it comes to groups here in New York state would really be beneficial. Um, and so I’m wondering if we can stay on this path for a few minutes and talk a little bit about how you did become more strategic. You talked about needing to learn about those different markets and then identifying who to target. How did you even get started in, in understanding those markets and then how did you narrow those down?

Sally Berry: 07:21 I am so glad you asked me that because this is really one of my passions is talking about the 80 20 rule, which basically means I always say to people that’s how to do less work with more success. And um, I did a session at Pennsylvania buses association summer meeting a few years ago and I talked to the suppliers. They’re about that very thing about, you know, we all have limited time and limited resources. So yeah, what decisions can you make, what actions can you take that will bring you the most business? And one of the activities we did was to list your top 10 customers. So if you were a tour operator, you know, who are the customers that are coming in the most? If you’re a supplier, what tour companies are bringing you the most business. And I, I said to them, if you go back and put the number of visitors next to those companies, I guarantee you the top two or three are bringing you a probably about 80% of your business.

Sally Berry: 08:20 So if you made some small changes to your activities and it started spending more time doing things for and with those top three customers, you would be able to leverage your business a lot faster. Now, I always, the caveat being when any other tour customer calls you in, any other tour operator calls and wants to book something, one’s a question answered. Obviously you take great care of them, but if you spend the majority of your resources on those top three customers really going to allow you to grow the market faster with with what you have to work with. I, it’s a, it sounds counterintuitive if you just work with three and said, if you want more business, shouldn’t you be working with more and more customers? Really, if you concentrate on your top customers and then spend additional time with no customers, four or five, six and seven because they have a lot of potential, those those actions alone will help you a lot and they will help increase business. Now that other side of that is customer 244 who brings you one boss every three years. You don’t need to do anything active with them, you know, you make sure they’re on a mailing list. So any emails they get that, but don’t go out of your way to do a sales call on them. It’s just not the best use of your time and talents. And I say that to my staff all the time. Is this the best use of your time and talents we need to be really leveraged with what we do.

Nicole Mahoney: 09:43 Absolutely. Yeah. I think that’s, that’s really great. Um, the 80, 20 rule, I think that’s really great advice and, and I love that that’s a, you know, a tool that our listeners can actually put right into, right into practice. I’m kind of following that, what you just outlined. Um, so I’m curious as when you did this work, when you took on, uh, this role at Corning Museum of glass and you started to think about who you know, who are our top customers. Were there any surprises as you were doing that?

Sally Berry: 10:12 Um, I don’t think there were surprises because our top customers were all the Chinese tour operators based in New York City. I think what the big surprise once, once I started tracking was that are nine out of 10 of our top 10 customers are all internal, national. So the vast majority of our visitors are international for reasons I explained earlier. But one of the things that helped me to do with my department is sort of divide my role. So I just concentrated on international and then allowing my one staff person to then key and on the domestic market. So that gave her a new skillset. It gave the domestic tour operators and they even a face to put together. And then it allowed me to concentrate on the international market, which as you know, his different attributes than a domestic group tour for the most part. So, um, I definitely spend a lot of time and effort getting to know the Chinese operators, asking them questions as to what other elements would be helpful for them to have their guests see or do or have when they came to the museum, just to make sure that their customers had a great experience. So the word of mouth on the other side would be good for the tour operators.

Nicole Mahoney: 11:27 Absolutely. I, um, and I, and I’d like to actually tap into your China knowledge. Um, you know, for this, uh, episode. I know typically we have our regular question flowing. I know we’re going to get to both creativity and collaboration for our listeners who listen to listen in every week. Um, but I think it’ll at naturally come out and they,

Sally Berry: 11:48 I’d like to, since we have you, um,

Nicole Mahoney: 11:50 here talking to us for the next half hour is to kind of hear a little bit more about that China market because I know there are several listeners who are probably thinking about that market as well, wondering if, you know, maybe they’re already getting visitors from China or they’re seeing, you know, an uptick around them and wondering how they get a piece of that market. Um, so can we start there? Can you talk a little bit about the China market and, um, perhaps how, uh, maybe our listeners might think about getting involved?

Sally Berry: 12:20 Sure. So the China market, one of the reasons it’s so appealing is because it’s huge. You know, the, there’s over one point I believe, 1.7 billion Chinese and only less than 10% of them have passports. And so the potential for growth is huge. And, um, the United States is considered the number one destination for long haul travel from China. So we’re still the number one place people want to come when they’re coming in from China to go on a long trip. So we’re lucky in that regard that we have the opportunity. And when Chinese visitors first started coming to the u s you know, as you can imagine, they, they stayed mostly in the big city. So like New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, they would visit the national parks. So in the east coast we have what’s called the Golden Triangle, which was, uh, which was New York City down to Washington DC and up to Niagara Falls.

Sally Berry: 13:18 And that kind of makes a triangle on the west coast. It’s a San Francisco, a loss, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon and back. So those are very common. The, all the tour companies ran those tours and those were kind of the value based chores in that people wanted to see a lot in a short amount of time. They didn’t necessarily want to just want to stay in high hand and hotels and that was how sort of the market builds and now it’s transitioning. There’s still definitely those kinds of group tours, seeing two trends. One is the group tour market is looking to do different places, so areas that hadn’t had Chinese groups before are now having the opportunity to have them, whether that’s smaller towns or destinations. Atlanta, Nashville, Memphis, they’re all becoming popular with the China market. Um, Chicago, Seattle, all those second and third tier cities.

Sally Berry: 14:13 The second, um, element that is becoming more common is instead of those big groups of 55 people on a bus, mmm. What I call the hybrid groups. So some people call them fit groups. If you’ve ever, if your listeners have ever seen those sprinter vans or their Mercedes Benz Benz, they can hold it 12 to 14 people. Those are what I call the hybrid groups. So there’s sort of a group in that they traveled together in one vehicle, but there’s sort of an fit visitor and that they can set their own schedule, they can stop and do different things along the way. They are not as rushed. They typically are a little bit more high end visitor and they’d like to have experiences. So they’ll build other elements into a tour and they want to try different things. So for those reasons, a lot of people that have never either never seen Chinese visitors before or didn’t think it was a good market for them. There are reasons to definitely look into it again and start pursuing it.

Nicole Mahoney: 15:09 Yeah, I think you’ve just given us a lot, a lot to kind of break down here and, and I, I love that you took us through this kind of where it’s been, where the China market has been. Um, you know, a Chinese wanting to come and see those big attractions like the New York City’s, the Las national parks, et Cetera. Um, but then how that’s now trickling down to second and third tier cities. And so as you’re working with your clients and talking with these, you know, uh, attractions or destinations that might be considered in those second and third tier markets, what types of things are you talking to them about? Uh, to be China ready?

Sally Berry: 15:48 Well, the first thing that we, we do a few things. First of all, I always say what is unique about your destination? You know, the Chinese love to do things that are the oldest, the first, the most expensive, the biggest. So anything that has a superlative attached to it. Um, did George Washington eat there? Did you know if there’s someone famous that we can, that we can tie to the area? All of those elements are definitely of interest. The other element that I have my clients keep in mind is we need to build an itinerary that makes sense. So if you’re going to have them go to an attraction and do something, then the next stop on the, on the package that you’re going to present to a tour operator needs to make sense in a geographical way. These two make sense. We don’t want a tour operator to backtrack and have to go to a different area that they could’ve gone to earlier.

Sally Berry: 16:40 So the whole itinerary has to make sense because time is money for a tour operator and anyone that’s in the group market knows with the new rules and laws for bus drivers, it’s very strict as to how long they can be on the road. So the two things I always working with my clients or let’s make sure your product is interesting because not everything is interesting. We’d like to think it is, but I’ve learned firsthand some of the things I think are interesting or not so interesting. What is unique to your area? What can they only see their, and secondly, let’s put together a tour idea that makes, as I said, geograph geographical sense and times out well. Um, I do have some clients that wonder about food choices and sometimes the Chinese do want to eat at a Chinese restaurant, but more and more, especially with these hybrid groups, they would like to try Americanized food or something that’s unique, that’s from that area. And if you can add an element in, we’re talking with one of my clients about this time of year, especially Maple Syrup because for, for visitors from other countries to see how how maple syrup is gathered and made is, it’s really interesting. So those kind of unique elements are, are great to add in as well.

Nicole Mahoney: 17:56 Yeah, I think those are some really good examples. And um, I like how you’re pointing out this whole idea about the, the tour operator time is money for the tour operators. So what that made me think about is, um, although it’s the Chinese visitor that we’re marketing to, it’s really the tour operator that we’re selling through and we need to be mindful of how they do business. Do you have any best practices or recommendations on, um, how to work with those tour operators and what things to keep in mind?

Sally Berry: 18:29 Yeah, that’s a great question. I think I learned a lot that year. I worked for a receptive operator, not only from the standpoint of putting a tour together and realizing what it needed to do in order for it to make sense, but also from the standpoint of destinations and attractions would send me information and want to be added into an itinerary. But I still had to do so much of the work. I had to call and find out what the pricing is. I had to call and find out where they open at this time of the year. I had to call and find out who was my contact, if I wanted to book something. So when I work with clients, I, I, I always say our job for any tour operator, whether it’s international or domestic, a operator is to do all the work. So when we hand them some information about a potential tour or potential package, it’s got all the contact information they need. It’s all priced out so they can literally do the mental math and say, you know what? I could add this on and I think I could sell this because it would be, it makes sense. It’s unique. It’s got some interesting elements and you did all the work for me, right. We don’t want to ask a tour operator to have to do any more work than they already do.

Nicole Mahoney: 19:36 Right. Yeah. Make it easy for them. Right. Absolutely.

Sally Berry: 19:41 And then I also say go back every year and update those packages with changes in pricing and changes in context because as we know, both those things do change on a regular basis, so, right. Keep that information current.

Nicole Mahoney: 19:53 Yeah, that’s really great advice as well. So Sally, I think we’ve already kind of hit on creativity quite a bit and just, you know, listening to kind of what you’re suggesting our listeners do, which is, you know, thinking about what’s unique to your area, thinking about those superlatives that you talked about. Um, I love this idea of the hybrid group, you know, thinking about, thinking about them in terms of a group, but also fit and, um, wondering if you can, or if we can segue a little bit and talk about weechat and perhaps how you can use that to really, you know, help, uh, to help you stand out. Um, the destination of the attraction really stand out within this market.

Sally Berry: 20:41 So for those that aren’t familiar, we chat is a social media APP, um, and was developed in China and came online I believe in January, 2011 so it’s been around a little while but not as long as a lot of others. Um, and Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, a lot of those types of apps are blocked in China. So what’s that? Excuse me. We chat was developed to kind of create a communications tool. Um, but it really has grown into a lot more. So now we chat is not only available for communications but we chat has grown into an entire platform. So we chat is now how people pay each other. It’s how people book travel. It’s how people pay their bills. So people in China are on, we chat all the time and tour operators based in the United States are on, we chat all the time and I learned quickly that is their preferred method of communication.

Sally Berry: 21:40 And time and time again, I’ve had folks reach out to me and say, you know, I called the tour operator, I’ve emailed them, they’re not responding. Can you help? And what I typically say is if you’re on Wechat, I would reach out on WeChat. And sure enough, I actually, one of my clients that I’m helping in this market, I’ve taught the Wechat, he sent me a message last week. He goes, this is so wonderful. They return, they get back to me within 10 minutes every time I reach out on recheck. And that’s because they’re on WeChat and it’s not a difficult, uh, apt to learn. There’s a lot of capabilities to it. And one of the things I’ve done is develop an online course that’s going to be launching in a few weeks. And I can certainly share the information on that. But it’s a tool specific for tourism professionals to learn.

Sally Berry: 22:25 We chat to learn how to communicate with tour operators and to do some of the things that tourism professionals like us need to be able to do. And one of the things we talk about in the course is how to set up a group. Because if you’re going to host a fam for Chinese, whether it’s media and or operators, the best thing to do is you set up a WeChat group ahead of time with everyone in it. Everyone can communicate, you can share contacts and updates while everyone’s on the fam. And it gives you an easy way to keep in touch with everyone afterwards and kind of seeds some story ideas, share some tour package ideas. And you don’t have to have worked in this industry too long to understand that Chinese people really like to do business with people they know, like, and trust.

Sally Berry: 23:12 And I say this all the time, more than any other market I work in. This is so much relationship based market to the point where you know, people want to have a several meals with you and meet you in the office several times before they really even want to talk about doing business. So we chat is one of those tools that we can use to kind of, um, get to know each other a little quicker and share photos like you doing any other app to get to know someone. So when you see them, you know, you feel like you’re, you’ve built bridge that gap a little quicker, so it’s a great tool. Yeah, that’s a, that’s fantastic. And uh, we’ll make sure that we get the link to

Nicole Mahoney: 23:46 your online course, um, added to our show notes page. So listeners want to go to the show notes page, they’ll be able to find it there. I think that’s just great advice in terms of using it, um, you know, for that group, especially if it’s related to a fam that might be coming through and all of those things that you can do once you have that group and that line of Communication Open. I’m also wondering Saley um, you know, for listeners who might be interested in setting up a WeChat account, um, I mean they can simply go in and set that up and just to start to get used to the tool on their own, correct.

Sally Berry: 24:22 Yeah, that’s a great, that’s a really great question because there are different types of accounts. What I was talking about was a personal account which anyone can go in and set up for free and use. And that’s actually what my course is about is how to use a personal account. And for the vast majority of us, that’s really what you need to learn. But there’s also what’s called official accounts and that, uh, that is a lot of destinations use them. A lot of larger attractions. A lot of big retail shops use official accounts. Currently an official account needs to be set up in China, needs to have a China bank attached to it. So many of your listeners I’m sure had been approached by companies that would like to do that on their behalf and it can be very valuable. It can help build your brand and all that.

Sally Berry: 25:09 Um, but my role is to help people understand that personal we chat account. And then when you are, um, contacted by someone that wants to help you set up an official account, you understand exactly what they’re talking about. Cause you will have seen what an official account is. I give you ideas of Vons to follow like brand USA so you can see what they look like. And my friends that do each app marketing say they are so happy when they know someone understands recheck cause it just makes it that much easier for them to be a good buyer. They understand what the options are and everything. So personal account and official accounts, the others, there’s two different ways to get the word out.

Nicole Mahoney: 25:43 That’s great. And, and thank you for, for sharing that difference. Absolutely. So Sally, I want to make sure we touch on the subject of collaboration and it’s just an add such a natural thing here in a, in tourism. But I’m going to actually ask you to give us an example of how we might collaborate if we’re working on, um, or where collaboration comes into play for working with the China market. And I, I’m sure it’s very important and I’m sure you’ve got several examples if you could share a few of us.

Sally Berry: 26:13 Sure. Well, I think there’s a few I could mention. One of the big collaborations at the according museum of glass was a part of, was a wine, water and wonders of upstate New York. And it was a collaboration of the museum plus the Finger Lakes region plus Rochester, New York plus Niagara Falls, New York. And over 10 years ago, the group got together and decided to market internationally as a, as a group, as a marketing organization. And China was one of the most architects that we targeted at the time. And so we have worked as a group to get into the China market to attend some trade shows and things like that. So it certainly gave us a bigger reach than any of us would have had individually. And, uh, you know, to collaborate between it deemos that might be seen as competitors as well as, uh, uh, a non for profit institutions was novel at the time.

Sally Berry: 27:07 And I always say we are all strong personalities that want to represent our business wells, but we really work well together in that collaboration. Um, the other example I would share, which is a little different is I realized quickly at the museum that the tour guides are very important part of the business model for us because they bring the groups in every week and their ability to sell tickets to our museum and other attractions while they’re on the bus is how they make their money. So we want to make sure they, we’re able to, you know, be able to speak up the museum, the excited about the museum. So one of the things we did was to have a party every year to thank the tour guides. And we get a, um, a place in New York City every year, whether it’s a bowling alley or karaoke. We’ve done Chinese Karaoke out on one of the Atlantic of boats that goes around New York harbor. We do all different kinds of fun things, ping pong, but it’s a great way to think. MMM. Poor leaders who bring it groups and we collaborate with some of our other partners that we know, they stopped their stops as well and they help us with sponsorships and to underwrite the cost of the events. So even though we know obviously that he’s, these buses go to many destinations, we choose some and they partnered with us in this event as well. And that’s been a lot of fun. That’s been a great collaboration as well.

Nicole Mahoney: 28:32 Yeah, I love that example. That’s a really great one. And you can’t forget those tour guides, but it actually, um, brought to light that there’s a different way that these tours are packaged than a typical, especially if you’re used to a domestic group that comes in. It’s all packaged the tickets packaged within the, within the tour price. Can you talk a little bit about how these Chinese markets work and how their tour packages work and, and that whole idea of buying the tickets on the bus?

Sally Berry: 28:59 Yes. Yep. So the, this is more for those value based tours, which are still the large group tours and the way they package those tours it, the price typically includes transportation and overnight accommodations. It doesn’t include the cost for attractions for the most part. It doesn’t include meals for the most part. Um, so it’s a very basic price. And then as they are driving from destination to destination, the tour guide, we’ll talk about where they’re stopping next and what they’re going to see and he or she will sell the tickets. I’m the boss as they get there. So for many of us on these types of tours, we’re very used to seeing a tour guide come up with a big fat wad of cash paying for the tickets in cash and then they distribute them to their guests. So one of the things I did at the museum at the time, most of these buses did have a DVD players. So we would make sure that all the tour guides had a DVD, a short DVD they could play with highlights of the museum was in Mandarin, but with English subtitles. So a lot of times they have guests for other countries as well. Um, and it was just a tool for them to have some additional help in selling the tickets.

Nicole Mahoney: 30:11 Yeah, I think that’s a, that’s a really great point. So again, you know, working in this market, you really need to understand the types of tours that are coming to you and kind of goes back to what we were saying before, you know, doing the work and making it easy, understanding what that tour operator is selling and how you can make there their job. The easiest. Even if that means creating those collaborations with those tour guides. Are Those tour leaders as well?

Sally Berry: 30:35 Exactly. And those hybrid groups, which I, which I keep mentioning, they do tend to include attraction ticket pricing. So that’s another benefit of those groups is they have everything built in. So they have the dinner costs built in, they have all the attraction tickets built in. So it’s another reason to, to kind of look at that market as well because you’re guaranteed, you know, you’re guaranteed the admission.

Nicole Mahoney: 30:56 Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s a, that’s just awesome. So, uh, Sally, I’ve, I’m really enjoying this conversation. We have a few more minutes left and I know I took you right off of the question flow. Um, but before we wrap up, I want to give you the opportunity to, you know, share anything maybe that I, that I didn’t ask you. Um, or even if you want to talk a little bit about the other types of work that you’re doing with your clients, just so that our lists for the benefit of our listeners so they understand what, you know, what help is out there for them.

Sally Berry: 31:28 Yeah. Um, there’s a couple of things I like to talk about is, you know, partnering on the International Market and, and look if this is a market, whether it’s Chinese or any of the other international markets, is find out where the tourists are going before they come to you and where do they go after? And those are probably your best, uh, folks to partner with. So whether that’s an advertising, whether it’s coming up with some kind of incentive program or maybe helping each other on developing a fan tour or travel writers, those are probably some of your best partners. And when I was at the Newseum, we partnered a lot with a Hershey in Pennsylvania because so many tours would go there and then come up to us. So there was times when I would call them and say, did you want to split the costs of a Fam Tor?

Sally Berry: 32:17 Um, we partnered together wine, water and wonders and the Hershey Harrisburg area partner together with a group of Chinese tour operators that were sponsored by NTA, the National Tour Association. And it was novel at the time because rarely do two states cooperate in a, it’s basically a competition and competing market. But it worked so well. And then we did it again this past fall with a French travel writer, a r y and water and wonder group. Also, he’s in on the French market and she was interested in seeing more than just our region. So we helped her with Pennsylvania as a whole. We gave her contacts and the Adirondacks and it’s really not only, it’s a win win for all of us because she gets better content. Um, our partners and we have new collaborators that, you know, at some point they’ll call back and say, hey, you were so good to us, we can help you with this.

Sally Berry: 33:11 So I suggest everyone kind of reach out and figure out who are your, who are your other partners outside your, your narrow scope. Look beyond where you typically do. And I bet you can find some good people to partner with that will, you know, give you some, a unique elements that you can share. Um, and my other, my other suggestion is, you know, try something new, try something new. It doesn’t always work, but when you try new initiatives and reach out, I think the tour operators appreciate that you’re willing to do these things on their behalf. And I have found often times more success than failures and it’s, you know, it’s always, it’s always good to try new things. So

Nicole Mahoney: 33:49 absolutely. Those, those are terrific. And I love that Hershey, Pennsylvania example because you are first of all starting out, find out where they came from and where they’re going so you can figure out who was a natural partner for you. But then to even think beyond those natural collaborators, people that you’re used to working with and taking yourself right into another state I think is just a really great example of know broadening your reach. And when it comes to the international traveler, you know, they’re not just coming to one place right there. They really need more robust itinerary. Um, yeah. So I can see how that really works well and, and what great advice to try something new. Right. I kind of agree with that as well. I interviewed somebody the other day and she said, um, I might get this a little bit wrong, but she said she was using a metaphor about walking and she goes, like, walking is really just, you know, falling forward this year, you know, and it’s like you’re failing forward. That’s what I think about. But you know, to fail gets you one, one more step closer to something that’s really going to work. So it definitely try something new. I totally agree with that. And um, Sally, tell us just a little bit more about what you are doing now so that our listeners understand what they might be able to tap a tap you for, for some, for some assistance should they need it. Sure.

Sally Berry: 35:08 Well thank you for the opportunity. So I’m, I really key in on the three areas where I can really be strategically helpful. The first is the China market, so I hope destinations and attractions become China ready. So whether that’s helping them work on product or for destinations, I come in and help their partners become China ready. Just a we chat trading and product development. Uh, I do a China sales mission program twice a year where folks can sign up and they kind of get soup to nuts training about the China market. They, they learn chat. We have live webinars. Um, they learned about business etiquette, business practices and that will culminate in actual sales calls in New York City. Um, as I said, we’re in the middle of the spring one. I’ll probably be doing one again in the fall and I can certainly share information on that.

Sally Berry: 35:58 Um, and then group tours, I love group tours, whether they’re international or domestic. It’s always been a passion of mine, so I love helping, uh, attractions and destinations, develops their group tour products and really a strategic manner and try and figure out how to leverage the actions. We take two, grow attendance. No, I’m a salesperson at heart, so I’m always trying to, I’m always say, what’s the number we need to hit? Okay. And this is how we’re going to do it. So, um, I love the creative part of it, but I’m really about driving sales and driving attendance and helping take those specific actions that will help people achieve that.

Nicole Mahoney: 36:35 That’s great. Well that’s terrific. Well, we will have a link to your online course as well as to your website and you’re in the show notes section for this episode and Sally, I really appreciate you spending some time with us today and we’ll definitely look forward to catching up with you again.Sally Berry: 36:53 Wonderful. Such a treat. Thanks Nicole.

We value your thoughts and feedback and would love to hear from you. Leave us a review on your favorite streaming platform to let us know what you want to hear more o​f. Here is a quick tutorial on how to leave us a rating and review on iTunes!

Related Podcasts