Sales & Supply
Jun 16, 2020

Preparing for Tourism’s New Normal with a New York Destination Manager

Matteo Provasnik
Destination Manager

Matteo Provasnik, destination manager (DM) for the Mid-Atlantic US region, is based in our New York office. The main cities he looks after are Washington DC and Philadelphia, but he also manages the states of Virginia, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey. As travel restrictions and lockdowns are still in place, he tells us about his role in preparing for a new normal.


What is the GetYourGuide team like in the New York office?

Destination managers, sales coordinators, ground ops, business ops, management, and HR work in the New York office. There are about 15 of us, all working from home right now. Our team has expanded recently with new starters that have joined in the past three months, so quite a few new faces have joined since the lockdowns started.

They were all onboarded remotely and now fully part of our team. Our new regional manager for USA east, Canada east and the Caribbean, Fernanda Neves, was hired in February just before we started working from home.

Due to the New York state stay-at-home order and DMs who were still on the road at that time, we couldn't even meet her for an after-work drink by the time she settled in. The good thing to look forward to is that when it's safe to do so, we can celebrate all of the new additions to the NYC Office.

By using my network in the local tourism industry, I try to make it easier for travel suppliers to bring new ideas to life. It's very satisfying to work with an engaged partner.

Despite working from home and outside of our normally very tight-knit office, everyone has been supportive of one another. We do daily check-ins at 9:30 a.m., it's a great way to start the day. We then do an optional end of day chat around 4:30 p.m., to see how everyone is doing. I think that the mood has been positive, and there is still very much a sense of team spirit and camaraderie.

With travels slowing down, what has and hasn't changed between your engagements with suppliers?

Well, first and foremost, a central part of our role has always been to support suppliers. Before COVID, we were addressing their concerns in-person during in-market visits and being available as often as possible over the phone. With travel slowing down, there are a few things I've been focusing on with existing and newly onboarded suppliers at this time:


1. Creating more value for tours and activities

We are using this time to adjust tours for when travel increases. For example, I often have virtual coffee with the folks over at the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC. They are very proactive, and we brainstorm ideas together on what type of exclusives we can promote with them.  

One of our partners in Kentucky provides day trips on the “Bourbon Trail.” On the tour, they take visitors to different internationally acclaimed bourbon distilleries. Each distillery is listed in the product description. As distilleries reopen to the public, each one will have a different set of opening procedures. Social distancing regulations and limits to how many people can be inside, this will affect how many customers from the Bourbon tour can enter. So the tour is not as predictable as it used to be.

To solve this issue, we are creating a new tour. We manage expectations by not listing out which famous distillery the customers will visit, yet still give them the same immersive experience they were expecting. This gives distilleries more flexibility to react. If their distillery is not so full, they can take in visitors for the tour, if they are full, the tour should move on to the next distillery. This way we are adapting our tours to social distancing measures - while giving suppliers space to adapt to the new changes.

2. Preparing newly onboarded suppliers

As for new suppliers who were only recently onboarded, I am extra respectful of any uncertainty they may have and not push any ideas too soon. I make it clear that we are their long-term business partner; it's never been about making a short term win. At this time, it's all about listening and better understanding their business.

Understand your partner or supplier's day-to-day life, what their concerns are, how they operate, how their business runs, and know the standard practices in their geographic region.

If they're not sure when they will re-open, we work together on other things like optimizing their products or adding availability further out since we have the consumer data that shows customers are looking into Q4 and beyond to return to travel. We think why not have your product available for these customers? It's important to provide our insight. We want to be an essential partner, the first one they turn to for ideas or new products.

3. Making future bookings smoother for operators

Through conversations with different partners, I am noticing more of them want to connect their booking system to our Supplier Admin site. Before tourism slowed down, many of the suppliers in my region were considering getting a booking system or upgrading/replacing what they currently used.

But, the time investment in research and comparisons were always a factor holding them back. Now, however, they generally have more time to explore their options, and I do my best to provide them with as much insight as possible.

If you're not familiar with GetYourGuide Connectivity, here's a rundown: When suppliers connect their backend booking system to ours, it enables our two sites to communicate without any manual effort. This Connectivity has the potential to increase sales because real, live, booking information and ticket availability will be visible for potential visitors.

When visitors return to the museum, they may feel nervous from the crowds. Guests now have to book visiting time slots, and that experience may be new to them.

They also need to be more cautious than before because of social distancing and will most likely have to wear a mask.

Customers can instantly book their experience, which is automatically confirmed. Being connected provides us with that last minute availability, which gives GetYourGuide a competitive edge, especially for popular attractions where, without being connected, it can be impossible to offer same-day bookings.

By using the tools we provide to optimize their backend setups, tour and experience operators can spend less time managing their products and more time focusing on the customer experience.

I handle the process directly with them, and I have the support of the Connectivity engineering team based in Berlin. We have a "self-mapping" tool that connects our reservation system to about 40 different types of third party booking systems such as Rezdy or PrioTicket. The process is super straightforward, and it takes 5 minutes. For more complex systems such as Galaxy and Ingresso, our Connectivity Team takes the lead.

Our company puts a significant emphasis on staying local and being physically where our suppliers are, which gives us an edge as our competitors are rarely in the market as much as we are. If you're out of the market for a long time, lots can change.

I happen to be one of the two Connectivity Champions in our office and l attend monthly Zoom calls with our Connectivity team. I funnel a lot of information and best practices from these meetings to our local NYC team. Each office has their own Champions, and it's great when we can connect during these meetings. There are always technical changes, system updates, updates to integration systems, and so on. We need time to understand and communicate these changes.

We recently organized a "connectivity refresher" for the NYC Team. We gave practical tips that everyone can use in their daily activities. We discussed how to talk to suppliers about Connectivity, where to find useful info on our Connectivity Wiki, and how to escalate Connectivity related issues.

How about yourself, how has work changed for you during COVID? How have you adapted and evolved to the new normal?

Destination managers are total road warriors. Before the government restrictions, we traveled at least one week a month to visit suppliers. Our company puts a significant emphasis on staying local and being physically where our suppliers are, which gives us an edge as our competitors are rarely in the market as much as we are. If you're out of the market for a long time, lots can change.

COVID has, of course, disrupted that. I spend a ton of time on Zoom now, and I have more calls than ever with our tours and attractions operators. Fortunately, I have built relationships with them over the years, so they know I am there for them no matter what. Even if we are not having formal meetings, I offer to do a virtual coffee chat with them just to connect and check-in.

With less time traveling for work, I'm investing time into skilling up on our internal business intelligence (BI) software, Looker. The software is available to the whole team. We make a lot of decisions based on how our tours perform, so here we can see the customer satisfaction rate, how well specific tours are doing, and so on. There are a ton of data points, and reports are completely customizable.

Do you have any post-COVID 19 advice for other destination or sales managers who are working in travel?

My general advice applies to before, during, and after COVID. Understand your partner or supplier's day-to-day life, what their concerns are, how they operate, how their business runs, and know the standard practices in their geographic region.

This way, you'll be better equipped to propose something different and fantastic that will make their products more memorable to customers. For tour operators, especially, ask them why they started their business and find out their story. Can we leverage this in the tour description to create an even more meaningful connection with customers?

For updates on our open positions, check out our Career page.

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