Camel ride operators smooth the bumps in tourism management

Article image - Camel ride operators smooth the bumps in tourism management

Located in South Australia’s largest mountain range, Flinders Ranges Council includes approximately 4,200 square kilometres of the magical Flinders Ranges. Its townships of Quorn, Hawker and Cradock have a range of tourism operators who target various markets, including intrastate, interstate and international visitors. This gives the area great appeal as a destination.

Flinders Ranges residents Graham and Jannene Cannard own and operate Pichi Richi Camel Tours in the district. They offer a variety of tours, aimed mainly at the international market.

“The tourism industry is a lot more complicated than we initially thought,” Graham Cannard said. “It is not just a matter of putting out a sign, saddling a few camels and you’re in business. We spent a long time identifying key target markets, even before we started trading.”

Jannene Cannard said the international tourism distribution chain is a complex process.

“If I were sitting in my home in Berlin thinking that I would like my next holiday to be a Camel Safari in Australia, but I didn’t know how to find such a tour, I would go to my local travel agent,” she said. “The local travel agent would give me a brochure and inside I would find Pichi Richi Camel Tours.”

An international retail brochure is distributed by the retail agent, but it is compiled and printed by a wholesale agent. This process was developed to ensure retail agents don’t have to continuously source new products all over the world.

An international tourism business works continuously to establish relationships with, and be contracted by, the wholesale agent.

“However, if the brochure the German tourist happened to be looking at didn’t contain a camel safari, the retail agent would contact the wholesale agent and ask them to find a camel safari quick smart,” Jannene said. “If the wholesale agent was not aware of a camel safari product, they then contact an Inbound Tour Operator (ITO).”

ITOs are based in Australia. They act as an agent to the wholesaler to source product specific to individual customer needs. Each wholesale agent tends to specialise in a particular type of product or tourist, for example, self drive families with a disposable income greater than x.

Pichi Richi Camel Tours has nine different products. Graham Cannard said one product may suit an individual agent, but that same agent may not be interested in any of their other products.

“For example, our Sunset Tour is targeted to the family market, our Two Day Safari to the backpacker market and our Camel to Candlelight Dinner to the high end market – it is more about gourmet food and individualised service than about a camel tour,” he said.

A tourism operator who is active in the international market can source the wholesale market at national trade shows, such as the Australian Tourism Exchange and Inbound Tour Operators at Discover Australia, which are both held annually.

Jannene said keeping up to date with such a dynamic industry can be a challenge.

“We overcome this with membership with the Australian Tourism Export Council,” she said. “The South Australian Tourism Commission is also fantastic in keeping us up to date with industry changes. We also believe it is important to maintain the quality of our products. We ensure we remain accredited with both the National Tourism Accreditation Program and Ecotourism accreditation.”

Jannene Cannard said local Councillors are also keen to develop an understanding of their industry.

“Tourism, in any form, is imperative to the economic development and sustainability of this region,” she said. “I can’t stress enough the value of what any Local Government can contribute to tourism at a local level. The management of a quality Visitor Information Centre is invaluable for the area.”

Flinders Ranges Council also provides funding for a Regional Marketing Manager. Jannene said by working with other stakeholders, it becomes financially sustainable for Council to provide this service.

“This level of support is greatly appreciated by both the tourism operators in the area and almost every other business that benefits from an increase in tourism numbers,” she said.