Striving for Survival! Travel Agencies Try New Business Models
The border is closed, the pandemic rages on, and the relief funds are hardly helpful. Travel agencies are on their own to find a solution, and they are transforming their business model in the hope to survive the biggest challenge in history. What have they done since last year? Who will succeed?
“Best Selection” Crosses Over from Tourism to E-Commerce
As the tourism industry is hit hard by COVID-19, travel agency “Best Tour” decided to compete in e-commerce instead. From the get-go, two teams were formed. One set out to search for opportunities in Taitung. The leadership surveyed the resumes of the entire staff and organized a domestic department to design domestic itineraries on the east coast (which have been suspended due to the Level 3 Epidemic Alert). The rest of the staff was organized into an e-commerce department and a recreational vehicle and coffee shop department. The e-commerce group started its sales with Japanese peaches and seasoned noodles. The staff began to explore different products, and thus, BestSelection.com was born.
Logistics alone presented a huge challenge. With many things to consider, like room temperature, refrigerated and frozen cargos, store-to-store shipping, HCT Logistics, Takkyubin Logistics, Kerry TJ Logistics, etc., the learning curve was steep. The additional office space built in 2020 has now become a warehouse, and the Best Selection merchandise has also grown from a list of 300 to 3500. Refrigerators and freezers were set up; sessions after sessions of taste-testing were done. In this process, it was not uncommon to have the procurement staff request to partner with vendors and explain that Best Selection is transforming from a travel agency to an e-tailer, only to be rejected. But step by step, the business has been growing.
Best Selection’s peaches and seasoned noodles were originally holiday gifts for the customers, and these were the first two products being sold. As the border was closed, becoming an e-tailer became the only option. Naturally, an OEM group was established. The Best Selection Noodle was the first OEM product. It sells very well. To date, hundreds of thousands of packs of noodles have been sold. And now, the second generation of the noodle is also in the market. Additionally, airport coffee, oriental beauty tea, dried mango, dried pineapple, bite-sized mullet roe, etc., are all OEM products carefully chosen by Best Selection. The number of items continues to increase. Best Selection started with fruits and now offers imported and local varieties. Last year, the pomelos were so popular, the local farmers were completely sold out. One can find everything on Best Select, from snacks to Michelin products, and from electric mosquito swatter to Apple Watch.
The star of the products is the seasoned noodle, which has remained the top-selling product from the beginning. Calbee fries from Japan are also one of the best sellers. This year, the company imported Italian and Russian wines. The fruity wines are very popular; 500 bottles were sold in a month.
Best Selection is also partnering with Dream Cruises this year, going for a click-and-mortar model. The company’s e-tailer products are all sold in a shop on the Explorer Dream (currently suspended due to the Level 3 Epidemic Alert). Additionally, Best Selection packages some regularly sold products into an “anti-epidemic pack” that includes face masks, hand sanitizers, goggles, anti-virus wipes, snacks, and instant noodles. When shipping logistics became a bottleneck, all available personnel were mobilized for deliveries. The total sales started to increase in March, and by May, with the anti-epidemic pack, the sales grew from 2 million to 4 million.
For details, visit Best Selection at https://www.bestselection.com.tw
Ezfly/TraveltoBuy Plans for Anti-Epidemic Business Opportunities
Ezfly crosses over to the health industry and adds health and anti-epidemic products to its portfolio as a way to save itself from the travel business downturn and revitalize its operations. Ezfly acquired the sole agency of Quangel QA No. 1. The product was invented by a top medical research team that integrates the medical optoelectronic field, led by former Ministry of Health and Welfare, Lin Zouting, and advised by contagious disease expert Chuang Yin-Ching (former CEO of the Liuying Chimei Hospital) who was the first person in Taiwan to receive information on the coronavirus. The product has been inspected and certified by Chang Gung University’s P3 Laboratory and is double certified with ISO22716 and GMP for its effectiveness in inhibiting 99.99% of coronavirus, increasing the user’s protection level.
To use Quangel, clean the surface first. Then holding the bottle upright about 30 cm away, spray the solution evenly onto the surface. Let the surface air dry to form a protective layer. Spray periodically to prevent this layer from being damaged and to ensure effectiveness. Quangel can be used in public spaces (public transportation, restaurants), medical facilities, offices (computers), homes (doorknobs, bed, car), and personal belongings (outer layer of facial masks, cell phone, stationery, shoes). It can be used indoors and outdoors on all kinds of surfaces to prevent COVID-19 transmission by inhibiting the virus, protecting the users and their loved ones. The product has been ordered by the Taoyuan International Airport Metro and Taoyuan Hospital, showing great market potential.
Since last year, the tourism industry has been suffering from the pandemic. However, by thinking outside the box, transforming the business model, and discovering effective anti-epidemic products, the company is able to create new business opportunities in addition to salvaging the existing portfolio and joining the anti-epidemic efforts.
For details, visit Ezfly at https://bit.ly/3grP3pm
Traveler/Travel Buyer: Overseas Shopping from Home
Do you miss the days when you could travel abroad and shop ‘til you drop? Even when you’re hunkering down at home for epidemic prevention, with the right e-commerce platform, you can still enjoy the fun of shopping as if you were overseas.
The travel agency “Traveler” is known for the New Zealand and Australia travel markets. It has been actively reinventing itself since the pandemic broke out by establishing the “Travel Buyer” e-commerce brand last year. The brand provides netizens with a variety of services for purchasing foreign products that are unique, full of character, even seasonal. Genuine items from New Zealand and Australia are shipped to Taiwan by air, such as the New Zealand anti-epidemic hand care set, Australian bilberry lutein supplement, propolis, tea tree essential oil, lanolin, and alpaca products. There are also popular products such as anti-epidemic sets, Japanese laver, mosquito-repelling aromatherapy essential oil, skin boosters, and skincare masks.
Travel Buyer believes that as the pandemic recedes and the borders are opened up again, this new platform will have even more advantages. The company’s numerous tour guides can carry the merchandise as they go back and forth across the border. This way, they can source the products directly, safely, and conveniently, saving freight and other costs, which is something that regular e-commerce platforms are not able to guarantee.
Travel Buyer is currently actively developing a purchasing agent app. The goal is to utilize the human resource of the tour guides. Consumers can submit orders through the app, then the app will match it with a suitable tour guide and use a more open wish list format to meet the expectations of as many consumers as possible.
When the border opens eventually, Travel Buyer will also collaborate more closely with Traveler (the travel agency). After all, consumers who like to use these products have a special affection for these countries and will look forward to visiting these places in person to enjoy the pleasure of shopping overseas.
For details, visit https://www.anz-daigou.com
Skyway Tour/PS Goods: Eat Your Way to Good Health
In the middle of last year, Skyway Tour established PS Goods Co., Ltd., led by two urban women who love traveling and food. With the idea of happiness and altruism in mind, they personally taste-tested or tried the products before carefully selecting high-quality items that are delicious and safe. Through word of mouth, the products are recommended to relatives, friends, and consumers. With good food as a starting point, every moment can be elegant and romantic when good taste and fashion are integrated into everyday life, even during the pandemic.
Among the many items that they sell, such as milk, egg, meat, seafood, fruits and vegetables, healthy vegetarian food, household products, etc., Skyway especially recommends Sunny Eggs, pig knuckles, and water bamboo. Sunny Eggs Farm is especially meticulous about the quality of production. The farm has earned seven certifications: CAS agricultural product excellence award, traceable agricultural product (TAP), certified humane animal farming, SGS, ISO2200, HACCP, and OVN. In addition, Sunny Eggs products are insured by South China Insurance. Grandma’s Pork Knuckle is cooked with carefully selected fresh ingredients, contains no artificial MSG or preservatives, is full of collagen, and has a meaty and chewy texture. Fresh water bamboos in shells are directly delivered from the farms in Puli, Nanto. They are great however you cook them. They are low in calories, very moist, and highly nutritious. These three popular products are all good choices for boosting your health during the pandemic.
For details, visit PS Goods at https://www.psgoods.com.tw/SalePage/Index/6700845?lang=zh-TW
ETTOURS/JC Seafood: Fresh Taste Rules!
ETTOURS launched the brand “JC Seafood,” which specializes in imported aquatic products (frozen on the boat or live) and local wild-caught seafood (harvested, frozen, and vacuum-packed on the same day or frozen on the boat). The brand has a Facebook community, where tasting events for new products are held from time to time. All products are selected after careful tasting and evaluation, aiming for high quality and low price to break the stereotypical perception that seafood is expensive and frozen food is not fresh.
Take the tuna belly strips as an example. These are delivered directly from the port of Donggang, Pingtung . These are the best cut of yellowfin tuna, taken from the fatty meat of the belly. It is flash-frozen to lock in the freshness, thickly sliced, and vacuum-packed. It can be pan-fried whole or diced up for miso soup. Note that it is completely deboned, rich in nutrients, and contains DHA, EPA, and protein, making them very suitable for children and the elderly.
The salted mackerel from Norway is particularly plump as the fish must withstand the cold seawater. Compared with mackerels from other areas, the Norwegian variety is rich in fat and very tender; the quality is exceptional. After the mackerel is caught and pulled out of the water, each one is immediately flash-frozen on the boat and sent directly to a pollution-free processing plant, where modern machinery and reverse osmosis water are used for processing. The fish is cured with only a thin layer of salt and no added preservatives. It is delicious pan-fried, air-fried, or baked.
There is also Australia’s top-quality diced wagyu, which has the characteristics of both Japanese wagyu and Angus beef. The meat has a fine and snowflake-like marbling that tastes fresh and juicy when grilled. It is a delicacy for pampering yourself when staying at home during the pandemic.
For details, visit JC Seafood at https://is.gd/t5ISO6
Luxury Holiday/Comwell: Imported Beauty and Health Products
Luxury Holiday has years of experience with Europe-bound tour groups and is well aware of high-quality and highly recommended beauty and health products in the area. Although tour groups are not allowed at the present, importing quality goods from overseas can continue to meet the consumers’ needs for beauty and health products.
In addition to marketing on its own website, Luxury Holiday also works with PC HOME online store to increase the products’ exposure. Among the many skincare products, hyaluronic acid imported from Norway and hyaluronic acid in original packages from Germany are the most recommended.
For details, visit Luxury Holiday at https://www.lux-holiday.com/
SET: Group Purchasing Korean Delicacies
With 60 years of history, SET has enough brand advantages and cumulative experience to launch a series of unique group-purchase products since the pandemic started. Recently, SET has utilized the Korean route that it has operated for many years to import Korean foods in original packages to Taiwan by air freight. In addition to authentic Korean spicy beef soup (sans beef), there is also the ginseng chicken soup that has a whole chicken in it, which is just as delicious as what they serve in Korea. Consumers can enjoy the authentic taste of Korea even if they can’t travel there.
To contact SET, call 412-8688 (area code ‘02’ if calling from a cell phone)
Lion Travel: Focusing on Merchandise, Catering, and Integrated Marketing
Under Taiwan’s Level 3 Epidemic Alert, Lion Travel Group has transformed its business model to merchandise, catering, and integrated marketing. “Lion Select” has chosen the concept of “connecting to the beauty of daily life” and brings ingenious and quality goods to consumers. The catering part includes two major brands, “Guangyi No. 4” and “Gonna”. It uses its central kitchen in Neihu as a base to tap into the group’s resources, immediately transforming the restaurants into take-out and delivery services to strengthen the overall service capacity.
For details, visit Lion Select at https://www.lionselect.com/
Cola Tour/U Need Me: Share the Beauty of Everyday Life
To survive the severe impact of COVID-19, Cola Tour established an e-commerce platform and officially launched the trial version of the “U Need Me Shopping Website.” The items on the website, from carefully selected overseas products including fresh produce, beauty products, health products, Evergreen Airline Kitchen, electronics and home appliances, epidemic prevention, Jinmen specialty products, and many more. These are all high-quality favorites recommended by travel experts to “share the beauty of everyday life with everyone.”
For details, visit U Need Me at https://www.needme.com.tw/?sl-mref=PIIpW
*The information in this report has been verified rigorously as of the time of writing. Please see the travel agencies’ official websites for the most up-to-date and accurate information.