Having a great tour or activitiy is not enough. You need to find the right distribution channels for them to get them booked. These could be paid or free platforms, online or offline.
Here are 9 distribution channels Italian tour and activity operators should know about.
1. Online marketplace platforms
An online market place is perfect for reaching out to customers you otherwise wouldn’t be able to. Platforms like Viator or even our very own TrekkMarket allow tour and activity operators to share their products to a larger audience.
Of course this comes with a cost, and that usually comes in the form of a commission. Another thing to note about online platforms is the possibility that your brand becomes diluted and your customers end up remembering the platform they used to book your tour, instead of your company.
2. Destination management organisations (DMOs) and destination management companies (DMCs)
DMOs are operated by your local non-profit or governmental organisation and aims to promote your destination to tourists. They also run your local tourist information centres, where travellers are most likely to seek out information about your area, asking about where to stay, what to eat and most importantly, what to do.
DMCs on the other hand are specialised agencies that aim to use their specialised knowledge about the area to plan an experience for their customers. They differ with travel agencies in that they also organise large scale events like conferences and conventions, and include plans for transportation and accommodation. However, if you plan to resell your tours with a DMC, you will be charged a fee.
So why should your company be on their radar? Simple - they are usually the first point of contact for many tourists or people interested in your destination. If they mention your tour or activity, chances are high that a referral like that could lead to a booking.
Read about the Greek travel start up, Visit Meteora, who grew their tour and activity company into a DMO as well.
3. Travel agents
Travel agents are another reseller that you should consider working with because they also help you reach a different audience, mainly customers who prefer paying more to avoid the hassle of organising their own vacations.
Consider tweaking some of your tours when working with travel agents to provide your customers the ideal experience they wish to have.
4. National tourism board
Every country has a tourism board and every tourism board has a website that shows off all the country has to offer. It is also the first thing to pop up on search results when someone researches on a country they’d like to visit. In Italy, it is the Agenzia Nazionale del Turismo.
You need to get your company listed on that site. If you operate a small company or have just launched your tour and activity business, getting listed on these sites are a great way to boost your marketing efforts.
There are also a few other benefits from getting in touch with your national tourism board. Read this article to find out more.
5. Online coupon or deal sites
Sites like Groupon also offer you the chance to be noticed by an an audience beyond your usual reach. By running a deal on such sites, the scarcity you create can encourage people to book your tours. Furthermore, if you were to run a deal during the off-season, you could encourage more bookings too.
6. Hotels and hostels
Another great place to market your tours and activities with little cost is at the local hostels and hotels. You could ask to leave your fliers with them or partner with them and grow your businesses together. Another great way to incentivise hotels and hostels to refer customers to your tours is by offering them a commission.
7. Work with local Airbnb operators
Similar to hotels and hostels you could drop a message to various Airbnb operators in your local area to tell about your tours or activities. Again, ask if you could drop off some fliers or work out a commission with them.
8. Email distribution
Don't forget about your existing customers and those that you have already built a relationship with. You could send emails to encourage repeat bookings or referrals with discount codes and vouchers. You could also run a flash sale via email to encourage more bookings, especially during the off-season.
9. Social media
Good old social media is also a great place to distribute your tours and activities. There are more sophisticated methods of selling your tours on these sites but a simple post about what your company offers and the experience you aim to deliver can also do wonders.
Do you know of any other distribution channels ideal for tour and activity operators?
Why not sign up for a TrekkSoft demo? It was created for tour and actitivity companies like yours.
Written by Nicole Kow
Having graduated from the UK, Nicole travelled around Europe before joining TrekkSoft's marketing team. She is now based in KL and regularly blogs about her travels at Next Train Out.