By Charlie Cooper, UK sales manager at China Links Travel
China has hit the headlines in recent weeks as the government encourages the general public to change the way it views the destination.
One of the best ways to do this is to visit the country and experience its culture, history and landscapes.
But how do you persuade clients to visit somewhere they may have preconceived ideas about, whether it’s the sweatshop culture or its poor human rights record?
Here, Charlie Cooper, UK sales manager of specialist tour operator China Links Travel, has some tips for agents on how to sell the destination.
1. Starting the sale
Suggest China as somewhere different. This type of holiday could appeal to cruise customers who have more time and are looking for something different, and a holiday in which they will be very well looked after. China will be different to anything first-time clients have experienced before so make sure they have two to three weeks to take in all the most popular attractions and cities.
2. Choose the right supplier
Find an operator that knows the destination. Specialists can help with advice, suggestions and tailor-made itineraries, but you can do your own research online and speak to operators that sell China. Operators can also help with training and holding customer evenings.
3. Ask the right questions
Identify what clients want out of their holiday, their budget and timeframe. Don’t forget to offer add-ons such as city breaks, beach breaks and stopovers as these will increase your revenue. China can be included in larger itineraries if they want to visit more destinations.
4. How to get around
China has so much to offer, it will appeal to almost anyone, but it’s important to tell clients that the best way to see all the main sites is on a private, group or tailor-made tour. This means all the logistics of getting from A to B, meals, hotels, transfers, flights and even visas is taken care of and clients will have either an escort or guide or both. Guides speak excellent English. They are the soul of the tour – they will tell you all you need to know, even the politics if asked, and they have a sense of humour.
A tour is also the best way to see all the main attractions at an all-inclusive price. Those who want a more personal experience should choose a private tour, which offers more flexibility, but costs more.
5. When to go
The best time of year to visit is from spring until autumn. The summers can be hot and busy though, so many people prefer to go in April, May, September or October. For good prices and quieter trips, winter is ideal. Although it’s colder it’s much quieter and perfect for touring. Avoid bank holidays.
6. New places to visit
If your customer has already been to China once and is looking for new areas then British Airways now flies direct to Chengdu three times a week. From here you have good access to Yunnan situated in the most-southwestly region of China. It borders Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar and is home to Nine Villages Valley, spectacular scenery and Unesco World Heritage Sites.
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