The tour packages at Dynasty Travel do not come cheap. This is something chairman Perry Neo is well aware of, given that his entire market strategy hinges on this premise.
"At Dynasty, we don't do mass market. We do quality holidays for the middle to high-end markets... our range of customers are high-end and they can afford to travel," says Mr Neo.
"For instance, we have a South America tour which spans over 20 days. About 70 per cent of our customers travel by business class because the journey is very long. Per couple, they pay somewhere from S$60,000 to S$70,000."
In the world of travel, to command this premium and not just survive but thrive is tricky business. As pointed out by Mr Neo, the fate of travel destinations have risen and fallen with currency fluctuations, natural disasters, and all manner of global and local happenings.
Dynasty Travel attributes its success to two fundamentals - its "innovative spirit" which is applied not only to its tour offering but also to the very way the company does business, and its "service-oriented" mindset.
According to Mr Neo, the company takes pride in its high service standards. This is not surprising, given that travel is, ultimately, squarely located within the services sector. Dynasty Travel has upped the ante with its range of customer-focused services and packages, he adds.
It is, for instance, the first travel agency in the world to offer all customers - even those travelling in economy class - complimentary use of the Business Class Lounge at all three Singapore Changi Airport terminals, says Mr Neo.
And it is not just about sending customers off in style. Little touches, such as sending these customers a welcome home message and thanking them for their support when they arrive back in Singapore, go a long way in enhancing the customer experience, he adds.
"Usually, the service ends there (in the country visited). But for us, it's different. From the start, during the booking of the package, you have a good experience; during the tour you enjoy a good quality tour with good food; and in the end, we welcome you back. So we have standard operating procedures from beginning to the end."
The company tries to provide special treatment right from the first contact. When a potential customer steps into the office, the staff stand up to greet the person. And, at the end of a meeting, whether the outcome is positive or not, the customer is escorted to the main door. Mr Neo calls this the full Dynasty treatment.
For customers who do not wish to make the trip down the office, the travel agency has a mobile app, called iDynasty. Mr Neo says this is Singapore's first vacation booking application which allows potential customers to view promotions and group packages. It also allows customers to book packages, and when the timing is right, provides flight departure reminders.
"We have also tied up with AXS so that customers can make their payment through any AXS machine islandwide. We try to provide convenience and ease - they can book through our system, go to our website to check our itinerary, or call the hotline and make enquiries."
The company, which clinched the Singapore Service Excellence Medallion Award's Customer Loyalty award in May - it is the first travel agency to win this award - has recently upped the ante.
In February last year, it adopted a "paperless" system in which its frontline staff switched to an iPad mini to make their sales pitch.
The new online booking system, says Mr Neo, was a game-changer. It is more efficient and eradicates mistakes on the front-end, feeds information directly into the system to ease accounting processes, and also performs as an analytical tool for the management to track the better-performing staff, best-seller packages, and also data on their customers to enable them to better customise and roll out programmes, he adds.
It is also the first step in the company's quest to launch its mobile travel concierge, which is likely to come online within six-12 months.
"(In the future) our sales staff could be working from home. If there are any queries, the customer can call us (to book an appointment with our sales consultant) and we can send the staff to their office to do the booking. Or, the customer could say, for example,'My wife and children want to know more, can you come to my home at 8.30 pm?', Customers don't need to come to us, we are providing the service to their door step."
For customers who want the "service" to fly with them, in a manner of speaking, the company's signature tours are not just customised tour packages. It also sees the tour guide double up as a secretary for the group.
"Let's say you have a family of six, my tour guide will follow your family and serve whatever the customer wants. You don't need to pay the tour guide fee, driver fee, local guide fee, everything is included. We are looking at customers who want things to be hassle-free... our staff will follow you and act as your secretary," says Mr Neo.
He adds that what sets the signature tour apart is the smaller group size and an upfront price which includes everything, down to tipping costs.
Additionally, the signature tour provides access to the VIP lounge.
Naturally, such services come at a premium. Says Mr Neo: "For example, the Greece itinerary comes to about S$2,800. But for the signature itinerary you pay around 30 per cent more. Your tips may be about 5 per cent, so we're talking about 20-25 per cent more. I think it's really value for money... this is the new concept of travel for those who can afford it."
Looking ahead, the company hopes to bring its personalised travel services to a bigger pool of customers in the region.
"We have already started in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and Johor Bahru. This year, we will start in Indonesia, and maybe at the end of the year, Laos," says Mr Neo.
With its existing pool of customers within South-east Asia - customers from Indonesia sometimes fly into Singapore just to book their packages before flying back home - it is an opportune time to expand.
"We always ask ourselves what are the services we can provide to customers, what are the conveniences we can provide to customers. That is why we think it's time for us to bring our services to them."
This article was first published on June 8, 2015.
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