Eastern Sri Lanka

Assisting emerging businesses connect and package travel experiences in the Arugam Bay and Batticoloa/Passekudah regions of Eastern Sri Lanka

  • Client: USAID Biz +, Land O'Lakes
  • Partners: SAVE Travel Alliance, Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA)
  • Project Duration: February 2014 – March 2015

Project Description 

Sri Lanka is a country that continues to recover from a long period of conflict. The Sri Lanka Biz + Program aims to improve the economic climate, increase employment, and generate higher household incomes in economically lagging areas of Sri Lanka. By supporting select small tourism enterprises in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka, Solimar was able to help these emerging businesses connect and package travel experiences in the Arugam Bay and Batticoloa/Passekudah regions of Eastern Sri Lanka. Through this we were able to help them increasing sales and thus, income and employment for local people.

For each business, Solimar worked with them to create business plans and strategies, refine their cost and financial structures, improving on their product offering, enhance the skills of their guides, service providers and sales force, build their direct sales to travelers and work with them to establish business-to-business relationships with other tour operators in Sri Lanka.

Major Activities

While work with each company is similar, they are not the same. Solimar worked with EcoWave (a local tour operator) on the following activities:

  • Business Planning – Analysis of the business operations at Ecowave’s Colombo office, field trip to assess business activities at the sales outlet in Arugam Bay and support to EcoWave in creating a business plan for their tourism activities.
  • Product Improvement – Field assessment to review each tour product offered by EcoWave. Cost and product analysis, provide product improvement technical advice, and guide training to improve the quality of tours offered.
  • Sales Outlet Improvement – Analysis of the sales outlet, materials, and layouts as well as functionality. Recommend areas for improvement, with non-financial ones done quickly and others incorporated into a grant application. Training staff in management and operations of the outlet.
  • Sales and Promotional Materials – Analysis of promotional needs and most effective sales channels, creation of sales plan and sales materials – including posters, manuals, banners, etc. Practical, training for staff in sales and marketing as well as doing actual sales with them.
  • Local Sales and Business-to-Business Networks – Hire a local coordinator to establish business-to-business relationships with guesthouses, hotels and other potential sales channels in Arugam Bay. Train business partners on how to effectively promote EcoWave products.
  • National Business-to-Business Networks – Support EcoWave at the national level to enhance connections with national level tour operators to promote the Arugam Bay region as a destination to include on their itineraries with EcoWave providing ground handling services and activities. Establish business-to-business agreements with operators.
  • Impact Monitoring – Support engagement with the tourism sector in Arugam Bay and improve operations and promotional capacity.
  • Sales and Promotional Materials – Establish tracking tools to monitor number or tours sold and benefits gained from each sale.

Solimar also worked with East N West (a local tour operator) on the following activities :

  • Revise and Improve Tours – Field assessment to review each tour product offered, cost and product analysis, product improvement, technical advice and training to improve quality of tours offered by East N West.
  • Sales and Promotional Materials – Analysis of promotional needs and sales channels (such as hotels in Batticoloa/Passekudah region) to identify most effective approach(es). Create a sales plan within the business plan in addition to sales materials. Train East N West staff on sales and marketing.
  • Local Sales and Business-to-Business Networks – Work with locally coordinator to establish business-to-business relationships with hotels and guesthouses in addition to other potential sales channels. This coordinator initiate sales through promotional materials, establish concession agreements, and engage in direct sales outreach. Training is given to business-to-business partners on East N West’s products and how to sell them.
  • Results Monitoring – Establish tracking tools to monitor number of tours sold and benefits gained from each sale.

Results

  • Increase in direct traveler sales
  • Increase in business-to-business sales agreements
  • At least 30 guides trained

 

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“We rely confidently on Solimar's deep technical experience and professionalism as tourism consultants. You always are exceeding our expectations.”
Leila Calnan, Senior Manager, Tourism Services Cardno Emerging Markets

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