Guest Comment by Helen Wong, founder of Helen Wong's Tours

Guest Comment by Helen Wong, founder of Helen Wong's Tours
By admin

It’s significant that during the Year of the Dragon we would be celebrating our 25th anniversary. The Dragon is one of the most powerful and lucky signs on the Chinese zodiac with a particularly fiery energy – a perfect description as we, at Helen Wong’s Tours, forge ahead to build on what we have achieved over the past two and a half decades.

The Dragon is also tenacious with an eye for success. A quick look at the Tea Room of our website and you will see that Russell Crowe was born under the sign, so too the late John Lennon and actors Robin Williams and Al Pacino. I’d like to think we had their tenacity for success throughout 2012.
 As you can imagine it’s been an incredible ride over the past 25 years. But while sales have been strong for much of the time, there have been years where we have had to be more diligent – just to survive.
Turn back the clock to 1987 and we, as pioneers to some previously untapped tourism regions of China, were primed for a bright future.
That was until 1989 when the dramas of Tiananmen Square unfolded. You know, my hand was aching from the number of cheques I had to send to clients who had cancelled their tours to China. Not forgetting the changing fortunes of the economy and the SARS and bird flu outbreaks. They hit us about as well, but not once did we lay off any staff. We supported the staff and they in turn stuck by us.
The reserves we had put aside from the good years made sure that we would one day rebuild and continue promoting and selling China as a destination for holidaymakers. We strongly believed in the product and years later we and the product remains healthy.
I’m often asked to compare the early days with those of today and there many differences, for better and for worse. For example, air fares are lower than they were in the 1980s. And when you compare tour prices, well, there’s not much difference, despite the fact that everyone earns a great deal more these days.
Overseas travel was once considered a luxury. Now it’s a normal thing and within reach of far many more travellers.
One thing that does sadden me is the change in distribution over the years. The monopolisation of the retail agents has resulted in the demise of many independents which thrived on the friendships made with customers and wholesalers.
I know it just doesn’t apply to the travel industry, but the art of eye-to-eye contact has almost disappeared courtesy of the electronic era. Everyone seems to be nailed to their desks and emails have replaced phone conversations in many cases.
Despite the internet and the amount of information available at our fingertips, I don’t really think people are more knowledgeable about travel than they were in days gone by.
Back in the 1980s and 1990s potential travellers were more diligent in gaining access to vital information and, for most, it came about from repeat visits to the travel agents and wholesalers such as Helen Wong’s Tours – 25 years young this year.

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