Jinny Jung, president of Cosmojin Tour / Courtesy of Cosmojin Tour
By Yun Suh-young
We all know the truth about creativity ― that it doesn't necessarily come like a bolt from the blue but more often than not as a mix and match of things that already exist.
Many people famous for outstanding work in their respective fields attribute their success to "creativity".
Achieving success in the tourism industry is no exception ― especially for a tour agency known for its exceptional services.
Cosmojin Tour, the mostly widely sought after tour agency in the business community, has built its reputation on providing customized services to VIP clients. The agency consults companies about tours for their foreign clients and provides unique tour programs for them. Now, Cosmojin is looking to extend this service to Korean citizens and foreign expats living here.
The success of Cosmojin comes from approaching tours from a different angle.
"Creativity comes from emulation. We try to collect and look at existing facts from a fresh angle so that tourists will be interested in stories about the place they're visiting", said Jinny Jung (Jung Myung-jin), president of Cosmojin Tour.
"This is the art of storytelling. For example, when we're taking foreign businessmen to Gyeongbok Palace, we tell the story about the palace from a businessmen's perspective", she said.
"The palace can be seen as a large corporation in the modern sense. Over 3,000 staff worked there, which is about the number of staff in a conglomerate. Foreign businessmen are keen to listen to the story of how the palaces operated and how they were inspected by other organizations because this reflects their field of interest", she added.
The tour agency, unlike other agencies that simply brief their clients on the geographical and historical meaning of the sights, provide customized stories to match their client's interest.
"For instance, if we're introducing Gyeongbok Palace to architects, we provide detailed information on the architectural style of the palace which they pay attention to. I think a memorable tour is a tour with a story and we provide that. That's what distinguishes us from other tour agencies", Jung said.
It's when a good story is delivered and received with appreciative fascination that clients form a good impression about Korea and ultimately leads to a successful business contract.
"If we're just providing the same kind of information any travel agency can, there's no merit in requesting our service. We add value to the information already out there", she said. "When we provide information about a hotel, we don't just give our clients general information about them. We give them additional information about the hotel's characteristics. We gain such info from our customers who give us feedback after staying in them".
There are over 40,000 clients who have toured Korea through Cosmojin since it was established in 2001. There are 4,000 businesses that have requested the services of Comsojin and about 70 companies have formed alliances with the tour agency. The company has clients ranging through public organizations, conglomerates, small and medium sized companies, and individuals. The company grows by 20 to 30 percent every year.
However, there are sometimes limits in providing customized services, when a client's request is beyond what the company can do.
"There was one VIP client who was a billionaire and he wanted to have his toilet changed in the hotel he was staying in. He said he would pay the price for it but it was impossible to meet his demands because it wasn't up to us to decide',' Jung said. "The hotel was aghast at the idea and of course rejected it. It's when we encounter situations such as these that we cannot meet our clients' demands".
So her work philosophy is to first visualize a service before providing it. Since it's difficult to handle fastidious clients, she tries to have them understand if they request something out of the question. She says reporting the situation first is important in order not to create misunderstandings.
"It's better than plunging into the situation and ending up providing a sloppy service. We provide the best we can but in situations where we can't, we need to accept it and let the idea go cold", she said.
Although her company is growing, the industry itself is still out of the spotlight.
Jung said there needs to be change in the industry's infrastructure and the way people view it.
"The tourism industry is rather neglected at the moment. The country has come very far in terms of manufacturing but in order for the country to take the next leap, the service industry must be improved. At the moment, too little attention is given to tourism", she said.
"In order for our storytelling approach to create synergy, the tour sites themselves must be well developed. But the sites in Korea are not at a satisfactory level. We need to develop and gentrify the infrastructure", said Jung.
"Public demand must also increase. At the moment, people have the tendency to look down on the tourism industry because those who work in aren't paid salaries commensurate to their work", she continued.
"But companies like us are different. Our employees are full-time employees and get adequate salaries. Perspectives need to change. Tourism must be thought of as a good career choice because it's a growing industry with much potential", she said.
For the female entrepreneur who established her own agency at the age of 29, it is a sad truth that young people are avoiding careers in tourism. In whatever she does, her motto is to follow her own will.
"There's no result brought about if you move against your own will. Only when you move under your own volition will you be able to achieve something", she said.
Source : www.koreatimes.co.kr/... ( English Korean )
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