Demystifying Cross-Border Strategies in Travel

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has indicated that travel will represent a $15.5 trillion economy by 2033.1 Against this backdrop, the travel industry is truly brimming with several emerging opportunities in the next decade. Indian travel merchants have a unique opportunity to capitalize on the projected USD 31 billion market volume by 2027, driven by online sales.2

In recognition of World Tourism Day this September, we spoke with Culture Holidays on their success story in capturing international customers. Ashish Bhasin (AB)- Director of Operations, Culture Holidays, shares more with us.  

Which destinations are witnessing the highest demand for international travel?

AB: Players in the travel industry have noted that travel has a significant impact on individuals, societies, and the entire world. In recent times, especially in the post-pandemic era, we have observed an overwhelming demand for travel to Dubai, Thailand, Paris, Indonesia, and Greece, which have emerged as our best-selling destinations.

Which markets make up the majority of your customer base of international travelers?

AB: At Culture Holidays, we have a vision to transform lives through travel because we believe it has the power to transform us in various profound ways. To this effect, we are always looking to work with the best in the travel business from around the world. Currently, we are majorly associated and working with USA-based travel agents. As a growth-centric organization, we are also actively expanding to other countries including UK and Canada.

What are some of the challenges  international tour operators typically face when it comes to cross-border sales?

AB: Let us begin by understanding what international tour operators typically do. They are professional organizations that specialize in providing comprehensive events and travel services for individuals, groups, corporations, or organizations planning trips, events, conferences, or incentives in a particular destination. Overseas sales for tour operators can present a unique set of challenges due to the nature of their business and the complexities involved in organizing events and travel across different countries. At Culture Holidays, we look at transforming them into opportunities.

  • Regulatory and Legal Compliance: As an overseas tour operator, we need to navigate varying legal and regulatory requirements in different countries, including visas, permits, taxes, and safety regulations. Compliance with these regulations can be time-consuming and may require a thorough knowledge of local laws.
  • Quality Control: Ensuring consistent service quality across different destinations can be a struggle, but Culture Holidays is popular for maintaining high standards and monitoring the quality of services provided by local partners.
  • Not Physically Present and working in different time zones:  As we are not physically present in the destinations or with vendors, this is where we can cherish the boon of technology and get all the things in place and aligned by being virtually present. To work and sync with people located in different time zones can be critical and complex. Being an overseas tour operator, we have people at work 24*7 who are available for all our clients and vendors across different time zones.

Despite these challenges, it is worthy to note that we, at Culture Holidays have the expertise and resources to navigate the complexities of cross-border sales. We take pride in providing our clients with successful and memorable events and travel experiences.

What are some of the key payment concerns for your customers in global markets?

AB: At Culture Holidays, we are committed to providing exceptional services to our customers. Customers in global markets can have several key payment concerns when dealing with international travel companies, which can impact their decision-making process and overall experience. Here are some of the key payment concerns that travel company customers in global markets may have:

  • Currency Conversion and Exchange Rates: Customers often worry about currency conversion rates and potential fees when making international transactions. They want to know how much they will be charged in their local currency and whether they are getting a fair exchange rate.
  • Payment Security: Then there is security, which is a top concern for customers when making online payments. They want assurance that their payment information will be handled securely and that their financial data will not be compromised. Many transactions are declined to protect against fraud, which in turn declines the actual payments and transactions that agents and consumers are making to us.
  • Varied Payment Methods: We have observed that customers have varying preferences for payment methods. While some might prefer credit cards, others might prefer digital wallets, bank transfers, or alternative payment methods specific to their region. Consequently, travel companies need to offer a range of options to cater to these preferences.

How has the PayPal partnership led to improved customer experiences for Culture Holidays?

AB: We believe that PayPal can play a pivotal role in helping us elevate the customer experience at Culture Holidays. As an international tour operator our business primarily involves a lot of overseas payment.  PayPal’s amazing secure, flexi and widely accepted payment option helps our agents, and their clients book their trips with us smoothly and efficiently.  The key three advantages of having PayPal as a digital payment partner are:

  • Streamlined Payment Process for Global reach: Our customers will have a quick and convenient way to pay for their trips. This can reduce friction during the booking process, leading to a smoother customer experience. At the same time, PayPal's global presence allows for payments in the customer’s preferred currency, providing them a more transparent understanding of the actual cost of their trips. This also allows them to have a more transparent understanding of the actual cost of their trips.
  • Enhanced Security: PayPal's robust security measures can help instill trust among customers, as they will feel more comfortable sharing their payment information with a reputable and recognized payment provider. This enhanced security can contribute to a more positive booking experience.
  • Effective Refunds and Dispute Resolution: PayPal's dispute resolution system can facilitate smoother interactions in case customers need to request refunds or resolve issues related to their bookings. This can lead to quicker issue resolution and improved customer satisfaction.

How do you think travel has shaped customer experiences in 2023?

AB: Some of the transformative effects we have seen taking shape include:

  • Broadened Perspective: Experiencing different cultures, lifestyles, and ways of thinking has expanded customers’ perspective. After all, travel challenges our assumptions, helps us see the world from different angles, and fosters a deeper understanding of global diversity. Moreover, travel provides the opportunity to learn about history, art, cuisine, and geography in a tangible way and encourages continuous learning and intellectual curiosity.
  • Cultural Sensitivity along with adaptability and resilience: Immersing in unfamiliar cultures has laid the foundation for fostering empathy and cultural sensitivity. Through travel, we learn to appreciate and respect the values, beliefs, and customs of others, leading to more meaningful and harmonious interactions. Travel often requires us to navigate unfamiliar environments, deal with unforeseen challenges, and adapt to changing situations, which cultivates adaptability, problem-solving skills, and resilience.

Inspiration for Lifelong Learning and Creativity: Exposure to new environments, art, architecture, and experiences has ignited creativity and inspired new ideas in various aspects of life. We believe that travel fosters a lifelong love of learning and curiosity about the world and encourages us to seek out new experiences and continue exploring even after returning home.

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