Travel Russian Awards: “Rating of Russian Tour Operators – 2013”

Alina Khorosheva, 25.12.2013 11:48
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Independent online magazine Travel Russian News, website and marketing communications agency PR2POINT are proud to present, as part of Travel Russian Awards, the “Rating of Russian Tour Operators – 2013”. The rating is based on a poll among Russian tourists which was conducted from November 20 to November 28 of 2013. Russians were offered a list of thirty largest Russian tour operators, from which they chose whom they believed to be the best. Among these companies were leaders of mass tourism and niche tour operators.

For the poll, 1,600 economically active Russian people older than 18 years were chosen. The survey covered all federal districts and was carried out in 205 localities, which included the following cities: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Khabarovsk, Perm, Vladikavkaz, Sochi, Samara, Nizhny Novgorod, Irkutsk, Novokuznetsk, and Rostov-on-Don. The respondents were to answer the following question: “Choose three Russian tour operators that you think are the most reliable.”
According to the results of this nationwide poll, a TOP-10 of this year’s most trusted Russian tour operators has been compiled.

Tour operator Tez Tour won by a large margin, having received 33% of the votes. Second spot is shared between Coral Travel and Pegas Touristik – 25% of the votes each, and tour operator Natalie Tours came in third, having ‘appropriated’ 11% of the votes.

Fourth place is taken by Biblio Globus (8%) that has recently significantly expanded its flight geography. Travel company Neva is fifth (6%); tour operator TUI, having strengthened its presence in the regions, claimed sixth spot with 5% of the votes. Anex Tour, which is also gaining traction in the Russian cities, has been placed seventh with 4%, while the eighth spot is divided between NTK Intourist and Sunrise Tour – 3% each.
Ninth place in the rating is shared between four companies:
PAС Group, Roza Vetrov, Sоlvex and Mouzenidis Travel, each of them with 2% of the votes. Finally, the tenth spot is divided among five tour operators. They are: leading provider of guided tours to Europe DSBW, South Cross, Delfin, Russian Express and Megapolus Tours – each with 1% of the votes.

It is interesting to look at the 'triads' of companies that, according to the Russians, provide reliable service. For instance, a financial controller from Moscow chose Coral Travel, Sunrise Tour and Neva, while an accountant from Vladikavkaz considers Coral Travel, DSBW and PAC Group to be the best, citing the companies’ “good information support, user-friendly and informative sites and great staff”. A leading specialist from a government institution in Moscow thinks Natalie Tours to be the most reliable tour operator: “I have not had the chance to travel with other companies, but Natalie Tours met every expectation. I was able to travel to Turkey and then to Spain with no troubles whatsoever.” Based on his work experience in the travel sphere, data collection specialist from Kursk picked Tez Tour, Biblio Globus and DSBW.
“Interesting excursion programs, polite staff who are definitely worth their salt, reasonable tour prices and a wide selection. These are the core characteristics of Anex Tour,” says
an architect from Nizhny Novgorod. A senior teller from Moscow, who had spent a few years working in tourism, says the following: “I consider DSBW, Russian Express and Megapolus Tours to be the most reliable tour operators. I worked in tourism from 1991 to 2001, so I am no stranger to the field and I know its history full well. I am proud to have worked and prepared specialists in tourism after the disintegration of the USSR, and it is such a shame that today this is the most disorganized service field.”
Interestingly enough, quite a large percentage of the respondents chose the answers ‘None of the listed companies are reliable’ (8%) and ‘Do not know/Unsure’ (38%). Primarily these are the people who have never traveled abroad, or organized their trips by themselves with no help from tour operators; or they picked a smaller and a more obscure firm.

Tour operators – on plans for development in the Russian regions

Media Director of TEZ TOUR Moscow Roman Rybakov: It is hard to overstate our joy from hearing that we have been chosen first in the rating! Our gratitude goes out to those who voted for TEZ TOUR! Our business strategy, both general and regional, is dictated by the de facto state of affairs of this or that market. We think that only by constantly monitoring and analyzing the market situation and reducing or expanding flight programs depending on real demand will federal and international tour operators be able to make profit and invest money in further development. We do not have any travel agencies of our own – we are one of the few tour operators, if not the only one, that do not work with direct clients. We do not set out to build our own network of travel agencies, instead focusing on providing quality service for our dear clients and being the most welcoming and useful partner for travel agencies.”

Public relations department of Coral Travel: “We find it hard to assess the objectivity of this result. On the one hand, the opinion of 1,600 people does paint some kind of a picture, on the other – this number is quite inadequate, seeing how 17 million Russians travel abroad each year.”

Anna Podgornaya, the General Director of Pegas Touristik: “We are very grateful to Russians for their choice! However, we were aiming for the first place. Our company has a long-standing presence on the market, and no other tour operator can compare with us in terms of the number of outbound flight destinations from the regions. As of today, we provide services in 50 cities of the country, but there is still room for development. In the near future we are planning to launch a new destination – Bulgaria, with the first flights to the country’s resorts slated for the second half of May of 2014. Pegas Touristik will organize flights to Bulgaria from 16 cities, including Moscow, Arkhangelsk, Voronezh, Yekaterinburg, Irkutsk, Krasnodar, Krasnoyarsk, Nizhnekamsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Orenburg, Perm, Samara, St. Petersburg and Ufa. Early booking for these destinations is already available.”

Marketing and Sales Director of TUI Russia & CIS Ivor Vukelik: We have a lot planned for St. Petersburg. Right now we are expanding our flight program, for instance, this winter the Czech Republic became our new destination, and in summer we plan to organize flights to Tivat (Montenegro), Varna and Burgas (Bulgaria). We will definitely continue developing the program in Egypt and Turkey, where we plan to organize flights to Dalaman. Moreover, next summer our brand planes of Metrojet airline will be stationed not only in Moscow, but in St. Petersburg as well. Our strategy in regions is different to that in Moscow and St. Petersburg, where we have adopted quite aggressive policies and as a result have gained a solid reputation. We have more long-term plans for the regional towns, where we tread lightly and avoid rapid expansion of the flight program. Our scheduled regional growth rate is 10-20% each season. Next winter season we plan to open operator offices in three new towns, however, this project is still in at a draft stage.”

Press service of Biblio Globus: “In 2013 Biblio Globus opened five new offices in the Russian regions, three in Volgograd, Kaliningrad and Krasnodar with the possibility of a direct transit to Cyprus, and also in Tomsk and Irkutsk with a direct flight program to Thailand. With our company’s offices in Tomsk, business professionals and residents are able to fly directly to Thailand via Transaero flights. This was also made possible with the international terminal being opened in the city’s airport. Before that, if they wanted a direct flight to a popular foreign resort, Tomsk tourists had to fly from Novosibirsk or Kemerovo, which meant spending more time and money. Biblio Globus made a foray into the Siberian market in autumn of 2010 by opening offices in Krasnoyarsk and Novosibirsk, and from there our company proceeded to expand its presence in Siberian Federal District by way of opening Omsk offices in autumn of 2011 and Kemerovo offices in autumn of 2012.Currently, we offer six destinations with direct flights from the cities of Siberian Federal District – Cyprus, Thailand, Vietnam, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Czech Republic. In spring of 2010, Biblio Globus opened an office in Yekaterinburg, thus introducing itself to the Ural market. It expanded its presence in Ural Federal District in autumn of 2011 by opening three more offices – in Chelyabinsk, Perm and Tyumen. As of now, we offer eight destinations with direct flights from Yekaterinburg: Cyprus, Turkey, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Greece, Egypt, Thailand and United Arab Emirates. We should say that this summer season marked the first time that direct flights to Turkey, Bulgaria and Czech Republic were possible from Yekaterinburg. During the autumn season Biblio Globus introduced round-trip flights with ten-day intervals via Transaero airline from Chelyabinsk, Tyumen and Perm.”

PR-manager of Anex Tour Elena Zakharova: “When a tourist comes to a travel agency, the first thing he or she is offered is a tour operator’s product. Travel agencies work on special conditions with tour operators, and the latter must have a sprawling network of ‘representative agencies’ in order to win the trust of clients. It is no surprise then that the rating is dominated by the operators with the largest networks of representative agencies. We are now working hard to develop these networks, and plan to expand our regional presence in the coming year. It was quite interesting to see the rating results though – good to know that Russian tourists trust us. Thanks to all who choose holidays with Anex Tour!”

Press service of NTK Intourist: “In 2014 our company plans to increase the number of partners in the following cities which are already of top priority for us: Moscow, Yekaterinburg, Chelyabinsk, and St. Petersburg. One of the advantages of working with NTK Intourist - aside from our experience and reliability – is the client-oriented approach. We try to make partnership with an agency mutually benefitting and interesting. The bonus system that we have in place grants bonuses for each tour sold, with commission being adjusted depending on the sales volume. Moreover, we offer a lucrative compensation package for the agencies that join our franchising network. As a result of this approach, during 2013 our agent network grew 30% in all the regions that we cover, and we expect the same growth in 2014.”

Press service of Sunrise Tour: “In 2014 Sunrise Tour plans to consolidate its standing in the Moscow region, which is an appropriate course of action for us, seeing how in 2013 we really concentrated our effort on the products for the Moscow consumer – premium programs in the best hotels of Antalya, weekend tours to Istanbul, sightseeing and beach tours to Italy. As for the regions, right now Sunrise Tour organizes flights to its own destinations from Moscow and Yekaterinburg and does not plan to fly from any other cities. Our company does have plans for launching new destinations, but for now we would like to keep quiet about them. Today Sunrise Tour has one of the largest retail networks in Moscow, and we are going to keep working on developing our franchising and own office networks.”

Deputy Development Director of DSBW Pavel Gusyatnikov: “We are truly delighted to see DSBW included in a national rating based on tourists’ preference. After all, being a long-established company that creates its unique excursion product, we want to know and understand the needs of our target consumer. That is what we are working for. Nowadays, state-of-the-art technologies are becoming more and more essential, while the consumer is growing more demanding and savvy as regards traveling, so we need to be able to anticipate the needs of our clients. In the coming years those tour operators that manage to readjust, and demonstrate ‘personal’ approach even to the mass product, will be the most successful, and that is precisely our course of development.”

Press service of Sоlvex-Travel: “We are very pleased that a company without regional offices and that flies from Moscow only was able to get into a TOP-10 regional rating! It is good to know that people acknowledge our work. Our sales ratio is 60% in Moscow and 40% in the regions. For many years now we have been organizing workshops and seminars in different Russian cities in spring and autumn, and we also arrange our presentations in the Russian regions. At professional exhibitions we are approached by many regional agencies, and our catalogues virtually fly off the shelves. Also, 5,000 regional Russian agencies are subscribed to our newsletter. We are always in touch with our partners and regularly hold webinars for them. In other words, ours is a reliable brand with a 20-year history. On our website, in the newsletter, on webinars, workshops and at exhibitions we provide up-to-date information for agencies. This is the way we are going to expand in the regions. Besides, there is a good chance that a flight from a region will turn out to be more expensive than from Moscow.”


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