Coming to a screen near you
TWO local businessmen are launching an innovative tour booking system which aims to revolutionise how commissions are paid.
Adam Burckhardt, a former sales consultant at the Gazette, and Hibiscus Gardens Resort and Spa owner Shane Branch will unveil their product, an iPhone/iPad and web app called iTours, to commercial partners on Monday.
The product allows tourists to browse local tours and book them directly from their handheld gadget and the brains behind the concept are convinced the new system will capture the imagination not just of tech-savvy tourists, but also booking agents and tour operators.
iTours will be able to compare similar products, including their brochures, in five languages, and read reviews from past passengers.
Tour operators will benefit from the lower commission incurred for sales through iTours.
“We’ll be up-front about our commissions,” Mr Burckhardt said.
“We’re taking 5 per cent, and an extra 2.5 goes to the local tourism organisation for destination marketing.
“Everyone will pay the same rate, so it’ll be a level playing field.”
Naturally Doug Ryan, the executive officer of Tourism Port Douglas Daintree, thinks the iTours model is “a great initiative”.
“It’s good to see someone recognise the importance of destination marketing,” Mr Ryan said.
Since the tourism downturn began, operators have been complaining more loudly and publicly about increasing commission rates.
“There has been a lot of debate about the level of commissions that tour operators are paying,” Mr Branch said.
“It’s not a new debate, but it has certainly grown more heated lately.
“I wrote a report a few years ago, predicting we would see a steady rise in commissions as wholesalers grew bigger and the number of agents decreased.
“Sadly, that prediction has come true.”
Mr Branch, who has been involved with local tourism for 15 years, said he could see the potential of iTours “immediately”.
“With this model, everyone wins without anyone needing to get greedy,” he said.
“The operators get to keep a greater share of the ticket price.
“The tourists get better information and end up having a better tour.
“The destination wins, because of our contribution to TPDD’s marketing.
“The only people who are likely to lose under this model are the agents who charge massive commissions, 25 per cent or more.”
The company will also distribute 100 iPads to local hotels.
Once iTours is established in Port Douglas, there are plans to roll out the concept in Cairns and the east coast of Australia later this year.
Make it easy: iTours directors Adam Burckhardt and Shane Branch launch their new way of booking tours next week