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Time for a catch up with Tomato Travel: INTERVIEW


Here, we talk to DEREK LAM, Managing Director of Tomato Travel, about their plans for the future and how agents are key to their success.

 

Tell us how Tomato Travel came into being?

After five years working for a reputable Asian tour wholesaler, I began to realise that there were many things missing from this sector of the market - to name some, value-focus and technology.

We have a responsibility to provide our guests with an excellent experience when they choose to travel with us. We want to educate people on how to choose the right travel product for them and to come home with great memories.

 

How did you choose such a fun name?

A few years ago I heard a story that inspired me: Up until the end of the 18th century, people still thought that tomatoes were poisonous.

That was until September 26, 1820, when Colonel Johnson proved once and for all that they were not. He stood on the steps of a Salem courthouse and consumed an entire basket of tomatoes without suffering any ill effects whatsoever.

Just like the story of Colonel Johnson, travelling overseas, especially for the first time, can sometimes be a nerve-racking experience.

But I want to let everyone know that travel is good for their wellbeing and that it can be inspiring and educational. Once they taste the proverbial tomato for themselves, they’ll see just how rewarding it can be.

 

Japan

 

What are the aims of Tomato Travel?

Starting with Japan, we want to bring the concept of healthy travel and excellent experiences to everyone through our innovative approach to travel. Healthy travel is our priority. 

On top of promoting physical and mental health, we take healthy to mean good value for money and high quality services. It is also about our social and environmental responsibilities, and how we can make the world a better place.

 

Are travel agents still relevant in the booking decision?

The biggest challenge of providing great value travel products is choosing the right product at the very beginning.

Here is where travel agents play a very important role, as they can use their professional knowledge and expertise to source the perfect products for their clients.

That is the first step to providing customers with an excellent experience and for this reason travel agents are the cornerstone of our business.

 

Tokyo

 

What are some of the ‘hot’ destinations you are seeing?

Definitely Japan. Aussies’ interest in travelling to Japan has been steadily on the rise and it has the biggest growth among all other overseas destinations. (*)

Furthermore, Australian travellers are no longer just visiting the Japan ‘Golden Route’ (Tokyo, Mt. Fuji, Kyoto, Osaka), but are starting to look at more authentic experiences in rural areas.

 

What does the future hold for Tomato Travel?

Travel agents will be hearing a lot more from us in future and we want to build win-win relationships with our partners.

With support from our team, we would like every travel agent to become a Japan travel expert, able to bring amazing Japan products to their network.

We will not only be growing our team in Australia, but we will also be focusing on growing our team in Japan as this is key for our success in maintaining high quality standards and providing excellent services by having direct control over our products.

 

(*) Source: roymorgan.com/findings/8058-australian-holiday-preference-for-japan-grows-sotn-june-2019-201907120459

 

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Written by: Derek Lam as told to Traveltalk
Published: 11 October 2019

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