Creating a Distribution Strategy For Travel And Activity Marketplace

Creating a Distribution Strategy For Travel And Activity Marketplace

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Online travel agencies or more famously known as OTAs had emerged out of a need. It was that need to sell the entire excess inventory held by offline businesses in times of slow demand which led to their growing significance. Basically to increase sales!

But it seems like the tables have turned. Today, OTAs drive majority of the bookings around the world, and offline players are increasingly becoming dependent on them; and for many hotels, they even have become a primary source of revenue as well.

In fact, about $187 billion worth of revenue was generated from online travel bookings worldwide in 2016. It is observed that current growth of the sector stands around 10%. So, it goes without saying that revenue through online bookings will reach new milestones in coming years.

Here’s how a truly successful distribution strategy for a travel business looks like…

To begin with – Distribution channels are nothing but companies or contacts that promote and distribute your products in exchange for a commission. Some of these include: Online travel agencies, Visitor information centres, Daily deal websites, Concierge services, Travelogues, Fare aggregators and meta-search engines, Service providers, Bargain sites, Travel and tourism guides, Student Travel Agencies, Social Travel Websites, etc.

For a hotelier, an OTA would be a distribution channel, while for an OTA it’s otherwise.

Having cleared that – it is very important that a distribution strategy is aligned with your short and long term business goals and objectives!

It is equally important that regular evaluation takes place every 3 to 6 months to ensure how the strategy and each component is performing. And accordingly, the strategy must be tweaked and adjusted, keeping in mind the given conditions, to make sure you continue heading in the right direction.

Here are five’must haves’ for an effective distribution strategy…

  1. It must not be dependent on just one distribution channel and must have multiple online and offline distribution channels. Some online channels include: own website with booking and payment capabilities, partnerships with OTAs, etc; while the offline channels include partnerships with businesses that compliment tourism products.
  2. It must increase your exposure than before, which can be evaluated based on the number of website views, social media views and enquiries the business has received or receiving, given their most common touch-point nature for potential customers.
  3. It is important that the strategies are getting you new bookings than before! These new bookings can also turn out to be really helpful in measuring the effectiveness of your distribution strategy.i. Which distribution channels are giving you the most enquiries and bookings?
    ii. What is the conversion rate?
    iii. How many views turn enquiries to actual bookings?
    iv. How can you improve this?
  4. There must be a highly effective follow-up system to keep customers coming back for more. The most valuable are the customers that keep coming back!You can keep them interested and in touch, by updating them at regular intervals with newsletters, product offerings or recommendations about a tour or activity, redeemable discount codes or vouchers that can also be passed on to friends heading to that destination.
  5.  And lastly, you are being chosen over your competitors! A strategy that gives you the upper edge in the market, is definitely an effective strategy. For some, a simple integrated booking and payment system on the website does the trick, while for some, being active on social media and building strong brand plays as a key differentiator.

What is the best way to increase distribution?

One of the most effective and suggested ways to increase distribution is to “work with local agents“.

These could be anyone, agents at the visitor information centres, concierge desks at hotels or for that matter at local travel agencies.

Some of the benefits of being connected to local agents include:

  •  Great help in connecting with those in the community around
  •  Assistance to increase your brand message and your visibility
  • Ideal for promoting options to travellers who have already arrived for their getaway, within a destination
  • Very helpful in uncovering the fully incremental channels

And so on….

The other and equally powerful way to increase your distribution is to “work with international agents“. These could be OTAs, retail travel agents, hoteliers, and mostly anyone from within the industry.

Also, while at it – keep in mind to hold a diverse selection of accommodations, restaurants, excursions and attractions for travellers to enjoy, as you have to provide these agents with proof that your destination is the right fit for their target audience.

Some of the benefits of being connected to local agents include:

  •  They help you in promoting your destination on a global scale
  •  They have access to the largest local audience base
  •  Very essential while implementing a distribution strategy for a tourist destination marketing        campaign
  •  Gives you the opportunity to improve your destination identity and increase your visibility to  travellers of all ages, stages and backgrounds

Start a travel activity booking website that lets you to easily connect with distributors

Why is Distribution key to the Success of the Tourist Destination Marketing Strategy?

In the travel business, ultimately, your distribution controls success! Therefore, if you have a distribution circle, you will get more visibility, and in turn, more word of mouth, which eventually will lead to success!

In context to destination marketing strategy; since people are more likely to visit a destination where there are lots of different things to do, you need a strong distribution unit (a lot of offerings), in order to encourage tourists to visit the destination.

All you need to do is, network with as many agents as possible, and soon you will see your destination become the up-and-coming place for everyone planning their next trip.

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