Distribution Channels to Sell Your Tours
Distribution is a crucial aspect of tour operators’ strategy to increase their brand visibility. Selling tours, activities, and experiences through different sales channels—offline and online—help them get those products in front of their target audience.
Thanks to emerging technologies and ever-evolving social networks, there are endless opportunities to sell your products. To stay ahead of the curve, you must identify the distribution channels aligned with your short and long-term business goals.
Let’s map out the various sales channels to sell your tours to get more bookings this season.
Your website powered by an online booking system is your primary sales channel. The website is where your future guests learn about your offerings and get inspired. It tells them why it’s worth travelling to your destination.
As your powerful online sales channel, the website should be optimized for Google and other important search engines. Travellers search for things to do as they plan their trip. At this buying stage, travellers should be able to find you online.
Ensure that you have killer content on your website with details about activities. Remember to make it a mobile responsive website, as most searches happen on mobile devices.
Have a chatbot or a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page to answer the most common queries from your guests. The website can be a direct communication channel with your guests, so make the best use.
And do not forget to add the power of booking on your website. A Book Now button allows website visitors to reserve their spots right away, driving more direct bookings. Best of all, you have complete control over the revenue that comes through direct bookings. Always make sure the “call to action” or “book now” button is available on every page of your website.
A social media marketing strategy is a must-have for tour and activity operators as social media presence gets you more eyeballs than any other media now. Spruce up your social media marketing with engaging campaigns and entertaining content.
Have a direct booking link on your social media pages. Or direct them to your website, where they can reserve a spot or learn more about your tours.
Tap into the possibilities of user-generated content (UGC)—original, brand-specific content created by customers and published on social media or other channels. It could be images, videos or even reviews. UGC can influence your potential customers and increase conversions. It’s no secret that travellers trust peer-to-peer recommendations. And that brings us to the next most important aspect of social media—influencers.
Partner with travel influencers, who have become a dominating force in social media. As with any other strategy, before you tie up with an influencer, set your goals, choose someone within your niche and keep a realistic budget.
Remember, it’s not always about influencers with millions of followers. Sometimes micro-influencers with far fewer subscribers are a safe bet. Their followers are trustworthy companions and constantly engaged on the platform. Also, micro-influencers are more likely to be affordable and may even share your content for a free tour.
Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs)
DMOs promote destinations, leading to an influx of tourists and more revenue for the tourism operators. They empower tourists with the right information to have an incredible experience in the destination.
DMOS and Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVBs) are the first points of contact in a destination as travellers trust them for their local expertise. These organizations are known for their extensive network of local contacts and partners, and they have up-to-date information about the destination.
Many tourists do not book tours and activities until they are at the destination. DMOs can direct the visitors who pop in to their offices to your company if you establish a working relationship with them. By promoting your tours to travellers already in the destination, DMOs give you a number of prospects.
For tour operators, DMOs also give an incredible networking opportunity. It is always great to connect with the local tourism community and build strong relationships. Your business gets more visibility among peers, and more word of mouth will eventually get you more guests.
In the post-pandemic world, partnerships with fellow tour operators have become significant to get more bookings and attract a new market that might not know about your tours otherwise.
Collaboration and co-marketing boost your brand’s reputation and reach. By partnering with others in the local tourism community, you can create tour packages, diversify your offerings and entice travellers.
An in-destination traveller looking for an itinerary for a visit will be excited to see a whole package of activities and experiences bundled together. The traveller doesn’t need to go through the pain of meeting every operator’s website to reserve his spot.
Before you embark on partnerships, set your goals—what do you expect to gain, and what’s the scope of the partnership. Choose the right partners in terms of the target audience. Ensure that your partners have positive reviews and credibility to work with.
💡If you want to sell your tours via fellow tour operators, Zaui can help. Zaui Connect is a feature that automates reselling of tours and experiences between Zaui users. With the direct, real-time Zaui-to-Zaui connection, tour and transport operators can gain more exposure and bookings by supplying their activities to be resold through another local operator and fellow Zaui user.
You can also incentivize your guests with PROMO CODES, offering experiences from another entity. An excellent example would be the unique Buy One Get One Promo code offered by Prince of Whales, a leading whale watcher based in Canada and Zaui’s client, partnering with the Royal BC Museum. They clubbed their tour with Royal BC Museum’s latest Orca Exhibit. The whale watching operator sold over 5000+ tickets with the promo code campaign in 2021.
Sifting through unlimited options to find the perfect tour or activity, in-destination travellers often turn to hotel concierges for information. Hotel Concierges are often their trusted partners to get valuable information about things to do and places to visit in the area. Their expertise in the local area makes them the go-to trip planners for their guests.
Partner with local hotels in your area and sell your tours and activities through them. They can recommend your experiences to their guests. The partnership with them exposes your business to more people and fills up your remaining spots. Eventually, they can be your in-destination brand ambassadors, driving more referrals and revenues to your business.
If you are worried about the heavy paperwork and payout calculations that come with reselling, an online reservation system can solve it with a simple agent booking process. An online booking system simplifies booking processes for hotel concierges acting as your agents by automating your relationship with agents and their commission. It allows concierges to provide instant booking confirmations and finish the booking process in no time.
Interested to know more? Head over to our blog, Selling through Agents on Zaui: An Explainer for Tour and Transport Operators, to learn everything about it.
Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)
OTAs don’t need any introduction. The web-based marketplace specializing in selling travel products to consumers has made it easier for operators to expand their distribution channels and bring in a lot of business from guests worldwide.
OTAs, with their wide range of travel offers under one roof, are the go-to channel for travellers. Their mobile-responsive website makes it easy for last-minute, in-destination travellers, to book top recommendations in a few clicks while on the go.
Even though OTAs come with a high commission price (sometimes as high as 25%), it’s worth considering your distribution channel. Online Travel agencies have the time and budget to invest in marketing and promotion to grab the attention of millions of monthly visitors. Attracting the same number of visitors as OTAs may be challenging if you have a limited budget.
However, it doesn’t mean that you need to sell your tours and activities on every OTA platform. Pick those OTAs that are in sync with your business goals and target customers. Also, negotiate the pricing strategy and commission, making it a win-win for both parties.
Remember that many OTAs are no longer listing products unless they are API-connected. So, it’s important to choose reservation software that lets you connect your products to the OTA distribution network.
In order to get the maximum exposure and reach, sell your tours via different channels. Include multiple online and offline distribution channels in your distribution strategy.
Measure the effectiveness of each sales channel constantly and tweak your strategy as and when needed. Distribution channels that give you the most bookings and leads are worth investing your time and money in.
Looking for an online booking system to sell more experiences effortlessly? We can help.