Vietnamese tour operator finds unlikely partner in Mongolian travel agency.
Hanoi, Vietnam - After deciding to pivot in strategy from focusing on the long-haul markets to Asia, Absolute Asia Travel, a Vietnamese tour operator specialising in inbound travel to Vietnam and the Greater Mekong Subregion, found cooperation in an unlikely place, handling the first Mongolian group of tourists to enter Vietnam since the pandemic.
Absolute Asia Travel was hit hard by the onset of COVID-19 and saw its traveller base, predominantly North Americans and Europeans, disappear overnight with the borders closing, with no indication as to when they might be permitted back.
Instead of letting the situation beat them, the tour operator considered which source markets could make a comeback first, leading them to partner with sales representative for Southeast Asia, Pear Anderson, in 2020, believing that Asian markets would be faster to rebound than longer-haul ones.
Their strategy has started to pay off - as Vietnam started to take steps to reopen in 2022, Absolute Asia Travel found themselves with an unexpected lead - a Mongolian travel agency, Cruise Tour Mongolia.
An initial quote led to more serious discussion, and resulted in the tour operator handling the ground arrangements for the first group of Mongolian tourists to enter Vietnam just nine days after the country reopened.
130 Mongolian passengers flew in on 24th March 2022 and travelled on an 8-day trip to Hanoi and Phu Quoc. Cruise Tour Mongolia are now planning 15 back-to-back direct flights to Hanoi - and Absolute Asia Travel is their partner for all the arrangements Vietnam-side.
“I couldn’t sleep the night before the group was due to arrive,” Dong Minh Tuan, the Director of Sales and Marketing, said. “There were so many factors that could go wrong, with requirements that were totally new compared to the ease of operating pre-pandemic. I even warned Cruise Tour to manage their expectations! But in the end, it all went smoothly - and we are planning long-term cooperation with them.”
“The Mongolian market is one that Absolute Asia Travel had never even considered before the pandemic, and goes to show that our strategy of looking at new sources of inbound visitors is starting to pay off, now that Vietnam is open. With Southeast and East Asia also reopening, we are keen to start working together with new Asian partners to showcase all Vietnam has to offer.”
“We discovered Phu Quoc Island in January through internet research and wrote to many tour operators in Vietnam looking for a company to support us,” said Amar Munkhbat, International Affairs Manager of Cruise Tour Mongolia.
“Luckily, we came across Absolute Asia Travel, who were so professional in their communications – and their quote was one of the most competitive. The tours have been selling very well and seen a great deal of interest from Mongolian travellers. From March 24th until now, we have sold 780 seats.”