What is a U.S. Receptive Operator?
Answer: A wholesaler who contracts with both International Tour Operators and local (regional) suppliers (lodges, ranches, attractions, services) and will then act as a go-between.
For the Tour Operator it is much easier to work with the local/regional receptive operators for the FIT (Fly-drive) or Group bookings than to try to book with each individual property. Many bookings may involve multiple lodges/activities and working from overseas this can be very time consuming and costly for the tour operator. They would rather send the information off to the receptive operator and have them do the work, especially since they may be on the same time zone as the supplier and not 8 to 9 hours off. Also, with money exchanges, it is much easier for Tour Operators to send one payment (often on a monthly basis for all of their bookings) to the receptive operator and have them distribute this to all of the lodges/activities booked than to have to send off dozens or hundreds of checks to each individual property. Some Tour Operators may work directly with a supplier if they feel that they are sending enough business to warrant this action, but for many lodges/attractions they would prefer to work with a trusted and reputable receptive operator.
For the Suppliers, it is easier for them to work with a receptive operator with one contract than to try to keep up with the dozens of Tour Operators that this receptive might be working with – again both for the booking process (sending out contracts to tour operators that may only book 20 – 30 rooms a season when they can work with a receptive operator who, through the volume of working with many tour operators, may book 150 –200 rooms a season) and for their own billing and payment programs. Most payments are now done through bank transfers and this is a costly procedure for both the sender and the receiver!
As mentioned above, Receptive Operators work with as many Tour Operators (booking partners) as they can sign up; often this is dozens or hundreds of Tour Operators. So if a Supplier is working with the right receptive operators they are really reaching out to many more potential buyers than they would be able to reach on their own. Receptive Operators who carry their lodges/activities in their tariff also act as a marketing arm for their services as they will attend multiple trade shows in the USA and in foreign countries, basically giving each supplier in their tariff a representation at each show! And this service is not paid for until they actually book into your property – and then the payment comes in the form of a reduced cost that they can pass along to the tour operators to pass along to the booking client. So, rather than spending several thousand dollars to be at a show in Berlin or USTA’s PowWow and not get any bookings – work with a receptive operator who will be there for you – and if you get a booking the few $$ you mark down your service is much less than the $$$$$ you would have spent on your own to get the same booking.
What rate is a Receptive Operator looking for?
Receptive Operators are looking for a net rate (much easier to work with than a commission rate) that reflects a discount off of your “rack rate” of 20–25%. Does this all go to the Receptive Operator? Absolutely NOT. The cost is shared down the “Booking Channel” so that the client will (hopefully) be charged an amount that is not exceeding the actual rack rate they would have received had they contacted the supplier directly.
This channel is:
Supplier >>>>Receptive Operator>>>>Tour Operator>>>>Travel Agent>>>>Client.
- In working directly with the Tour Operator, a net rate reflecting 15-20% is all that is required for this channel.
- You must remember that each party is working on helping you to sell more rooms.
- The Receptive Operator is marketing your product to reach as many Tour Operators as possible.
- The Tour Operator is actually putting together a marketing tool that will sell your product within their country (high gloss brochure publication, interactive website, etc.)
- The Travel Agent is doing their best to get the business of the client by selling them on an exiting holiday that will include coming into your area – and they are the original contact to get the client interested in the first place (and not going to Florida, Australia, South Africa, etc, etc.)
- Remember that the supplier does not pay anything UNTIL a booking is actually made.
How to Work with a U.S. Receptive Operator
There are receptive operators who work with FIT (Fly-Drive programs), those that work only with group programs, some that work with on-line booking services or Host-2-Host program (direct web bookings from the guest into the system of the receptive operator). Some work with lodges/services nationally, regionally or just on a local basis. What each supplier needs to do is find the Receptive Operator that they feel will work best for their lodge/ranch/activity/service. Ask around about which receptive operators others in your industry are working with, who has the best payment programs to fit into when you need to be paid, etc. Then approach these receptive operators and find out what they need to fit your product into their tariff and work out an agreement that will work for both of you. You do not need to work with all receptive operators and not all receptive operators may feel that your product will work for the markets they work with internationally. Do not give up after one year as it sometimes takes a few years to get a new location or product successfully into programs that are being featured and sold by the Tour Operators through the receptive operators. Be willing to work with the rate structure that is being proposed.
And, very important, be willing to work within your check in/out programs so that the rates given to the receptive operators (or directly to any tour operator) are confidential between the two parties. You do not know what rate the consumer has paid for your product and the consumer should not be shown what rate the receptive operator paid because there will be markup along the chain of bookings (as shown above). If the client should suddenly see a rate that he knows is 25% lower than what he paid, he will have no idea as to why he was not charged this rate (and the tour operator and the receptive operator did not take their “commission” out of the cost he has just been shown). The client does not understand that this is a net rate and commissions are added to this rate, along with taxes, service charges, etc.
Meet with the Receptive Operators at shows like the RMI Roundup as they are also meeting with the Tour Operators present at this show and many of the Tour Operators are already working directly with these Receptive Operators. Many will tell you they like your product, please make certain that it is being offered by “ABC Receptive Services” as they will purchase this through their services