Learn More About PATA San Diego Chapter’s Star Supplier!
SITA World Tours
Read on for an interview with one of our favorite suppliers, Ralf Korbner, Manager of Operations from SITA World Tours. Hi Ralf!
Tell us about yourself! How long have you been in the travel industry? What market do you handle for SITA World Tours and how long have you been with them?
I grew up in Germany and went to university there graduating with a MA in Education Psychology followed by a BA in Journalism from CSULB. Then took a job in 1986 at American Tours International near LAX, then the largest inbound agency. We serviced large tourism conglomerates in Europe, Asia, Australia and South America. I did two years of tour directing for them and left them in late 2004 as VP Operations. I am with SITA World Tours now since 2006 responsible for agencies as West Coast BDM but recently also with operational management functions. Thirty three years in industry.
Share more on SITA World Tours and what your company is all about – what areas of the world do you specialize in?
SITA (always capitalized) World Tours is a traditional Tour operator servicing the US and Canada since 1933. We are a member of USTOA. We sell traditionally through the retail network paying commission. Our expertise covers all continents except North America. We offer a large variety of tour product through our website. However, an even part of our revenue is generated through FIT customization as well as custom groups. SITA is headquartered in California, here in Encino.
Why should an agent book with SITA World Tours?
We have good staff, who has been with us in some cases over 20 years. Expertise exists for all destinations. Staff knows to make retail agents not familiar with a given destination look good. Our agent loyalty program is simple and immediate. Every booking attracts an $86.- SITA Amex cash card in addition to the commission. Commissions and the loyalty card are send before the client departs. We adhere to the USTOA insurance and ethics in travel requirements.
How do you and SITA World Tours partner with travel agencies?
We partner with the retail trade in the traditional way. A Proposal is sent to the agency. If changes are requested they will be processed and submitted to agency. We will give itinerary guidance and suggestions where appropriate or design the entire itinerary. Eventually we will collect payment by way of an incripted Credit Card process. Agents are free to ask for additional fees to be added to the arrangements, which are collected by SITA and submitted back to the agent with the commission check. We can also partner with agents on a net basis. In that case the agent decides the mark up. Total flexibility in the agent- SITA partnership.
What is your most recent memorable travel experience?
A 2-week SITA group I was responsible for to Singapore and Eastern Borneo (Orangutan trekking) was one of my recent travel highlights. One week Singapore (super city experience) and one week near Sandakan on the Kinabatangan River combined city and nature in a wonderful way. Nature guides on the Kinabatangan and its smaller tributaries showed us the wildlife and were not bashful in educating us on the challenges for the animals (Palm-Oil Plantations). The group consisted of folks between 60 and 84. Guides and infra-structure for us seniors in such remote areas were amazing and the itinerary execution was flawless. Crowning reward at the end were three days in Kota Kinabalu (the British Colonial Jesselton) at the South China sea in the Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort.
Sounds like an amazing trip. Ralf, thanks so much for sharing more about yourself and your company, SITA World Tours.