ITB Berlin: The Khiri Travel Report
In a very cold (it snowed) but warm (kind & helpful Berliners) ITB Berlin, Khiri Travel was represented by Group CEO Willem Niemeijer, Thailand General Manager André van der Marck, Myanmar General Manager Edwin Briels, and Cambodia Sales Manager, Chris Gramsch.
“Berlin was bustling, busy, exciting and a great city to be in again,” said Andre. “The energy was reflected in hall 26B where Asia was as ‘hot’ as ever.”
For Khiri, all three days were successful and massively busy. People were focused on their meetings. The Khiri ITB team reported that agents were very interested in Khiri’s “Big Highlights Done Right” concept.
“The Angkor temple ruins are the main reason why most people come to Cambodia and that might not change for centuries,” said Chris. “Our goal, however, is to convince people to stay more days in Cambodia as there is so much more to see and do than Angkor Wat.”
Chris cited the beaches of Sihanoukville and Kep in the south, and the rare freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong River that flows through Cambodia.
From the Thailand perspective, Andre said that at ITB there was a noticeable interest in smaller more personal travel destinations and activities. He cited Khiri’s Pak Kred Tour (a quiet road-less island in the Chaopaya River, just north of Bangkok, known for its Mon ethnic heritage and pottery kilns). He also mentioned the urban walking tour from trendy Siam Square in Bangkok to Chinatown, and Khiri’s family-centric treasure hunt in Ayutthaya.
“It is clear that all agents want to have a special personal link with their DMC,” said Andre. “There is also a clear need for “Highlights Done Right” plus new off-the-beaten track products. For example, Khiri is now offering camping in Thailand’s national parks, barbecues on the beach, and special homestays. It’s a very positive and creative time for us,” he said.
According to CEO Willem, new demand for such products fits in well with Khiri Travel’s strength as a tour operator.
“There was an understanding among buyers and trade visitors at ITB that Khiri does things differently from other DMCs regarding products, services and customer relations,” he said. “Together with our efficiency and competitive rates we aim to provide our clients with the best possible services that meet their clients’ needs.”
According to Chris, agents at ITB said they liked Khiri Travel’s approach with its emphasis on low impact sustainable tourism and working with local communities.
He pointed out that Khiri’s charitable arm, Khiri Reach, plays an important role in this. It links donors and volunteers with NGOs and community service providers. The Khiri Reach pledge is that 100% of donations go to local projects. (Khiri Travel covers all overheads.)