Laura Ortiz, Global Sales Director of Quimbaya Latin America
Visit Latin America: Can you introduce us to Quimbaya Latin America?
QUIMBAYA LATIN AMERICA is a Destination Management Company with its own receptive agencies in 11 countries in Latin America since 34 years. We work exclusively in B2B and serve tourism professionals from more than a hundred countries. So, we are able to organize trips in 6 languages: English, French, Spanish, Italian, German and Chinese. Our tours include a wide range of services in each country for travellers wishing to discover our continent in the best conditions and respecting nature, the environment and following the mandatory health standards.
We offer programs with the iconic locations of each country in the form of Guaranteed Departures with fixed dates. We also have several Theme Travel Collections for discerning travellers with a specific interest. One of our favorite collections and the one that interests today’s travelers the most, is our “Travel Differently” collection. Our partners find in this collection a series of programs that allow travelers to participate in sustainable activities that aim to support specific projects related to the protection of nature or local communities.
VLA: What impact has the pandemic had on the business and organization of the company and how have you adapted?
Like all tourism professionals, our company has been heavily affected since March 2020 leaving us without any bookings. From the beginning, we adapted to remote work, virtual meetings, online exhibitions with our customers, suppliers and each other.
VLA: You recently launched the Quimbaya Live Virtual Tours platform; can you tell us about it?
In August 2020 when we realized that this crisis was going to be longer than expected, a great idea came to us. Since we had become accustomed to the virtual world, but we were all missing travelling we allowed ourselves to think about a new format of tourism where we could use almost all our senses. It had to be Live, interactive, entertaining, sustainable but also of great quality as well!
A live and virtual tour became the perfect way to stay in touch with our customers, their passengers; a way to continue to transmit the culture of our countries, to continue to make people dream, explore a new place and, above all, to support and give work to our guides! This is when we realized Quimbaya Live Virtual Tours had to be born. We then started by setting up one by one, each of the live virtual tours we offer today!
It has been a great team effort, from training our tour guides to the virtual world technology to creating a dedicated team for the production of Live Virtual tours itineraries, the creation of a Live tours calendar and booking site and the offering of our tours to all our customers around the world. And exactly one year later after the beginning of the pandemic crisis, the Quimbaya Live Virtual Tours brand and site were launched Live online.
VLA: Is this new product, a temporary pandemic solution or alternative to real travel?
Not at all, Live Virtual Tours have been designed to complement a real in person tour. In a world that is becoming increasingly digital, tourism needs also to keep evolving and adopting new technologies in order to continue its core mission to support local cultures and communities. Tourism professionals will find also great advantages with these live virtual tours. This new format of tourism will also be an amazing solution for their travelers in order to help them in choosing the destination for their next holiday. A Live Virtual Tour of a place or a city will allow the tour operator to better present the destinations to its customers so they can choose their destination in a more fun and real way rather than just pictures or a webinar.
Virtual Travel via live streaming will also be a new way to promote destinations and showcase the places and services offered. It will be an excellent way to reassure travelers about the current live situation of the places and services they have chosen.
Most importantly, Live Virtual Tours will allow all those who cannot travel for different reasons before such as physical, or economical to finally escape, explore and know far away countries which they never they would visit before. Finally, this new way of tourism is the most ecological and sustainable way to travel, with zero carbon emissions! In conclusion, Quimbaya Live Virtual tours will stay and will develop even further.
VLA: What message would you like to convey to tourism professionals?
My message is more of an invitation: “Join me for a walk with our experienced tour guides, give yourself 60 minutes escape from the comfort of your couch! You will see live mythical cities like the city of Cuzco, Antigua or Cartagena, as if you were there! Let your customers enjoy it, get closer to you and you will help them prepare for their next trip to Latin America! We have everything set up for you so that you can offer them to your customers! »
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