NEW YORK -- Going Dutch may never have been a better idea for
agents, as the Netherlands Tourist Board here refines its
specialist program and implements a new call center application to
speed consumer leads to accredited Holland Travel Professionals.
The call center system, launched in early November,
automatically locates the three specialists nearest a consumer who
calls the tourist board's (888) GO-HOLLAND toll-free information
number, said Conrad van Tiggelen, director, North America for the
Netherlands Tourist Board, at an exclusive viewing of the system
for Travel Weekly.
If the caller agrees to a referral, those three travel agents
receive an instant e-mail advising them of the potential client's
interests, tentative travel plans and contact information.
In turn, a letter accompanying any materials mailed to the
consumer highlights the names and addresses of the three referrals.
"We used to pull the referral information from a spreadsheet
[program] and then send leads via fax, so it took more time," said
van Tiggelen. "But now the information goes immediately to the
The new lead-generation system, developed jointly with the
Scandinavian Tourism Board, is just one aspect of a renewed
emphasis on graduates of the Netherlands specialist program, he
For example, "we used to send out stacks of posters and our
popular pop-up tulips to all agencies," van Tiggelen said. "But now
only specialists will receive them."
Holland Travel Professionals, who enjoy their own hotline to the
Netherlands Tourist Board at (888) 4-HOLLAND, also should benefit
from the organization's redesigned Web site, set to launch on March
1. The address is www.goholland.com.
Although the content-rich site will feature online booking
engines for restaurants, hotels and event ticketing, "there will
always be the option to contact a Holland specialist agent," van
Tiggelen said. "Sometimes consumers want to book immediately
through a Web site, but those who want more guidance always will be
steered to travel agents."
In any event, "Holland specialists will be seen immediately on
the first page" of the site, he added.
On the down side, the Netherlands Tourist Board will not print a
travel agent-specific guide for 2002, while a travel trade page
under development for the new Web site will cater more to tour
The enriched main site, however, will feature enough novel
information of use to agents to compensate for the canceled guide,
van Tiggelen said. For example, it will highlight the addresses of
the latest and most popular restaurants in Amsterdam.
"These are places we pick ourselves, where we want to eat with
our friends," he said. "We want to prevent people from going into
tourist traps, especially since there's more FIT travelers
Also, new speciality subsites will address Amsterdam, suggested
itineraries, the arts, active vacations, gay and lesbian travel,
Jewish interest and World War II tourism.
"These are the areas we get loads of requests on," van Tiggelen
For information on the Holland Travel Professional program, call
(888) 2-HOLLAND or Monica Gasch Kuhne at (212) 370-7360, ext.