I have just come back from Lake Como, in the north of Italy. It was beautiful: quiet and picturesque, with plenty of cheese, ham and Prosecco. We had a fabulous time, but one thing that really stuck me was the two different types of holiday maker that were there.
1: independent travellers who used our hotel as a base for exploring at their own pace, and on their own timetable.
2: package people, who booked onto trips organised by the resident holiday rep.
The two groups of people were essentially wanting exactly the same outcome for their week, but in very different ways.
My friend and I were firmly in camp 1. Granted, we were 30 years younger than some of our fellow holiday makers, but part of the adventure for us was getting a map and finding our own way to the local sights. It wasn’t really as intrepid as it sounds though, as there was a bus stop, a boat stop (mooring?), and a local tourist office right outside our hotel, on the lakeside.
Dead easy to feel intrepid without much effort.
One day, we decided to head off to Villa del Balbianello, famous for many things, but latterly as a film set in a James Bond film. The Villa was walkable from our hotel, on the Greenway footpath system (it was about four miles each way, up and down and then up and up again). We could have got a boat from outside the hotel for $3.80, but chose to walk. At the end of the short boat ride, there was a water taxi available to take to you the Villa, at a cost of $5. Again, we chose to walk this section and saw some wonderful views, and ate wild strawberries en route.
Entry to the Villa was $18 for the house, guided tour and grounds (side note: it was actually rather disappointing, so if you’re in the area, go to Villa Carlotta instead, which is fantastic).
If you add up the total amount we could possibly have spent on getting to the Villa, it’s $26.80, with all the time flexibility you need.
For people in group 2, there was the option of an organised trip, on the same boat, and the same water taxi, to the same Villa, on the same guided tour, at a cost of $42.
That’s a big profit margin, especially as the tour operator would have been able to negotiate discounts for group bookings.
But what is really interesting about this, is that quite a few people paid to go on the trip, even when all the transport options were right outside the hotel. As I said, you didn’t really need to be that intrepid.
It make me wonder: why were people will to pay so much more for something ready packaged?
The answer is simple. Convenience.
Some people don’t want to find their own way. They want to have their outcome delivered to them, in the easiest possible way, no matter what the cost.
Now if this isn’t a business lesson, I don’t know what is. Within your business, you will have separate elements that can be added together to make a very attractive package of products or services. And, more importantly, there will be a group of people who want to buy that package from you.
Have a look at everything you offer, and think like a tour operator.