In June 2013 my Business Manager kindly invited me to join the Victorian Government's Super Trade Mission to South East Asia on behalf of and to represent Global Ballooning Australia. Having been working for this incredible company for a short seven months, I was honoured to have been asked to attend the mission.
As a business to be considered for this exhilirating opportunity, we applied for a place on this week-long venture though Tourism Victoria and were lucky enough to be accepted alongside 28 other tourism organisations - the Premier of Victoria, Hon Dr Denis Napthine MP led the largest delegation of Victorianoperators (from varying industries) visiting Asia in the one mission. Our objective was to strengthen relationships, to educate agents on ballooning in Melbourne/Yarra Valley and to showcase our distinctive tour operation. This had me travelling to Kuala Lumpur, followed by Jakarta and finishing off in Singapore during the period - 17 to 21 June 2013. The Victorian Government and Tourism Victoria coordinated an exciting program for us, including trade workshops in each country showcasing Victorian food, wine & fashion to VIP media and networking events.
To be able to do business in countries I had never been before meant learning about the people, their culture and way of business. The Victorian Government and our committment to professional development with companies who consistently make bookings with us, in conjunction with the rapidly growing visitors to Melbourne made for a worthwhile trip. We are the only ballooning operation to be involved in building a rapport with the overseas market in attending missions such as this one. This is a testament of our importance to continually strengthen tourism, which keeps not only our ballooning operation running but also other tour operations active year-round. Being involved in tourism means we are in it together and supporting this industry is a vital aspect of our business.
I met 125 agents from 84 tour & travel companies between the 3 countries visited. I was surprised to hear that many of them did not know that we flew over Melbourne city - one of the few cities that can be traversed by hot air balloon and thus made for a valuable trip. Personally, our product was seen as a 'WOW' factor in Asia - a once in a life time opportunity for visitors to experience in Melbourne.
To be a visitor in these countries, to be educated directly by speaking to the agents who are selling our experience and seeing how Asian culture does business was intriguing. Some advice for future travellers would be to value the relationships and keep in touch with agents. A trip every couple of years as a minimum is vital as the Asian culture enjoy building rapport and value relationships through consistent contact. Trust is a huge factor with agents and will assist in generating business from Asia to Australia.
by Kate Esposto