Com­ing to a screen near you

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - RICHARD KOSER

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.

Tourists us­ing

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

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