There are many aspects to growing a tour and activity business. Your tours or activities are just one part of it. There's also other parts to your business like operations, logistics, marketing and distribution to consider. One area you need to constantly work on is distribution and promotion.
Working on your distribution channels and figuring out which works for your market and trips is key to taking your business to the next level.
Here are 10 channels you should think about promoting your tours on:
1. Your website
It's the 21st century. A business that doesn't exist online is a one that doesn't exist at all. Having a website is a non-negotiable and doesn't take long to set up. You can build a basic one for cheap with WordPress or Squarespace.
Alternatively, you can use a website builder like ours to create a site that comes with an integrated booking and checkout process, so that customers can book trips directly from your site.
You also need to remember that your website is a channel that needs to be routinely tweaked and improved, just like how you would routinely clean up your office and display new brochures.
2. Your TripAdvisor profile
TripAdvisor is important for so many reasons, the main one being that online reviews are important to building your reputation online.
Remember to also engage your reviewers - thank them for positive ones and apologise for negative ones. Be professional at all times and never play the blame game.
3. Your social media profiles
While it is important to be present on the main social media sites like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, pick one or two platforms that you prefer to work with and also delivers results, i.e. generates bookings for you.
Check that your social media profiles link to your main website and that you've not left any comments, tweets and messages unanswered.
4. Direct offline bookings
From our previous research, we found that a large proportion of bookings for outdoor adventure companies come from offline sources like walk-ins.
My favourite real-life example of how one business in Nepal generated in-person bookings is from this Spotlight interview with Pauline Sanderson.
5. Online Travel Agents (OTAs)
With so many to pick from, I'd recommend starting with just one or two. If you're unsure which to pick, join the Tour Operators United Facebook group to read up on different experiences and opinions from other operators.
If you're already working with a handful of OTAs and need a system to streamline all your bookings, check out our Channel Manager.
6. Partnering with other operators
You could work with other operators in your area who provide complimentary services to yours. For example, you could promote a folk and culture during your city walking tour.
Cross-sell each others' tours and activities or bundle them together to create an attractive package deal.
7. Partnering with agents
Partner up with agents in your destination, the nearest big city or even from across the world. Make sure your agents know what your tours and activities are all about so that they can recommend the right guests to your trips.
8. Partnering with accommodation providers
Depending on who your tour is for, you could choose to work with hostels or hotel concierge desks to promote your trips.
You can choose to give them a commission for each sale or set a net rate and allow them to sell your trips at any price they see fit.
9. Destination management organisations (DMOs)
The role of DMOs are slowly changing thanks to tech and it can provide you with new ways to work together that benefits your business and the destination as a whole.
As a first step, make sure your DMO is aware of your company and are clear about the trips you provide.
10. Visitor information centers
Lastly, your local visitor information center or tourist information center can be a great channel for bookings and sales. Since it's one of the first places tourists are likely to visit if they're not sure what to do in your destination, it's a good idea to build a good reputation with your local information center.
Also ask if you can leave marketing materials like leaflets and brochures in so that customers can learn more about your trips if they want to.
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.