If travelers are the bloodstream that keeps your travel activity marketplace alive, activity hosts are the veins that keep that bloodstream flowing.
Online travel activity booking marketplace is the new fad among business enthusiasts. And with almost 10% year-over-year growth, the industry is full of opportunities for new players, without a doubt.
However, with constantly increasing competition in the industry, it has become crucial for travel booking startups that they play their cards well and be more watchful of their business establishment strategy.
Essentially, to stand out from the competition, you need to provide more options & flexibility to your customers, which could only come with more number of activity hosts.
To help you connect with activity hosts of your target market(s) following are a few ways and a bunch of tips that will make them stay as your long-term business partners. Let’s begin!
To start your travel activity marketplace at the right note, it is essential that you begin to connect with tour operators & activity hosts well before its launch. Follow the points stated below to build up a good network of travel activity vendors for your marketplace.
To connect with tour operators directly, first of all you need to know from where to collect tour operators’ contact information.
Start with doing a custom search on online business directories like Yellowpages, Manta, Yelp, etc. Other than that, you can look for any sort of merchant associations of tour operators in your target market. Additionally, attending trade shows of travel industry will also help you directly connect with many travel activity vendors.
After gathering tour operators’ information, start contacting them via calls, emails, and other offline & online channels. Arrange Skype meetings with them or meet in person to give the business presentation & to engage them better.
Tour & Travel is among the leading industries that are benefiting from social media the most. Pretty much every tour operator or travel activity host has a presence on one or more social media networks.
So, begin with setting up your business page on Facebook, Instagram, etc., and search for independent tour operators & activity hosts on these platforms. Invite them to join your marketplace by telling that connecting with you will give them wider exposure and highlight other benefits as well.
Besides direct messaging, also leave invitation on their page, so that their customers also get to know about your marketplace.
Suggested read: Social Media Trends That Will be a Game Changer in 2017
Many organized travel agencies, tour operators, and even individual activity hosts have their own websites. So, it would also be mindful to do a Google search for such businesses in your target market, and connect with them on their website.
Prepare a bunch of invitation email templates based on tour operators’ business nature & location, etc., and send them out accordingly. Make sure your email body has a link through which tour operators can directly register for your marketplace.
Also, follow up the ones who didn’t react to your first message.
Hoardings, posters, distributing pamphlets, etc. in various travel destinations can also do the trick to help you build a huge network of tour operators in a rather less time. An indirect benefit of this tactic is that travelers also become aware of your travel activity booking marketplace.
To make the most out of this technique, go a little creative. Brainstorm on some guerilla marketing ideas as it will help you grab maximum attention. Apply posters on cabs, buses and other travel vehicles. If you already have some travel activity hosts partnered with you, plan some ways to leverage this partnership to reach wider & deeper in your target markets.
Online ads can give you instant global reach, but to get a good response from it you need to have a well-planned strategy beforehand.
Start joining ad networks that let you place your ads on relevant online resources. Target travel booking websites, travel QA portals, social media networks, etc. through your online ads. Also, if your budget allows it, create a TV commercial; or at least a YouTube ad.
Make sure all of your offline & online advertisements put a clear message for tour operators about benefits of joining your marketplace and explicitly tell how to do it.
When working on above-mentioned ways to connect with travel activity hosts, also ensure that you have a registration/coming soon page prepared & live for them. It would be wise to use the same URL for this page that you intend to use for your travel activity marketplace. Also, don’t forget to list benefits of joining your marketplace on the coming soon page.
Besides connecting with travel activity vendors, you also need to make sure that they prefer you over competitors. Below mentioned tips will help you with that:
Your online marketplace must eliminate the problems with the traditional ways of booking travel activities, such as tedious turnaround time & wait for booking confirmation.
With an automated booking system on your website, you can allow tour operators & travel agents to confirm bookings instantly, thereby enabling them to get more business.
Recommended Read: Essential Website Features for a Travel Activity Booking Marketplace
Setting different commission rates for different type of agents, extra commission on last minute bookings, different domestic & international rates, are some factors that you should consider to make sure that you are offering more to those activity hosts who are providing you more business.
Which factors you should implement and which not will depend on your business goals & needs. Important thing is to keep them into consideration.
To lure new travel activity providers, you can make first few bookings commission-less, or cut lesser commission. To make things interesting and for even better results, you can offer some giveaways to vendors on their first booking on your website.
Additionally, you can also run a referral program with reward points for inviting merchants to your site.
Different operators might offer unique services for similar activities. So, it would be mindful to give them the freedom to control their activities and customize parameters associated with them. However, make sure that authority to change the date, time, and number of participation should be in admin’s hand once the activity is posted to avoid any sort of conflict with the end customer.
Acting on above-mentioned tips will help you connect with tour operators & activity hosts for the most part; however, you should not limit your efforts to them alone. On the ground, you will have to face unique situations and improvise accordingly. So, while it is important to implement these tips, it is also crucial to have an open mind for some new unique ways to engage tour & travel activity hosts.
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