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Hey there Nicole,
I am a small business and a tour operator in Jamaica, providing transport for visitors to my country.
I notice that in my country, larger companies that provide similar services as I do get lots of bookings, even more than they are able to manage. They would then sub-contract bookings to people like myself in order to satisfy their clients and they will take as much as 50% for doing so little. Is this a common practice in other countries? Also, is there any solution for me to cut out the middleman?
Hope I was clear,
Thanks for reaching out with your question.
Firstly, I've come across business practices like these but I'm not sure how common they are. I also know of other companies who turn their websites into marketplaces and charge other businesses a referral commission of 20 - 30% (which seems to be the standard rate). I agree with you that 50% is too much for such little work on their part.
If you're thinking of competing with the bigger company, your best bet is to do it online.
I checked out your website and firstly, it's really well done. But when it comes to your message and what you're trying to tell your audience, it's a little unclear what you offer.
- Are you a one-person company? If so, can I suggest using that to your advantage? You could write a personal "About me" page and why you like bringing people around Jamaica.
- Can you use real photos from previous trips with your customers? That would definitely make your website come across a lot more realistic.
- You could create a "Tours" page as well where you tell customers the sort of services you offer, where you'll take them and what they'll experience.
I would also suggest starting a TripAdvisor profile and display those reviews on your website once you have about 20 good reviews (4 stars or more). You could always email previous customers to ask them for a review.
You could write something like:
"Hi [name], I'm Lamur from [company name]. I know it's been a while since you last visited [your destination] but I thought I'd email you to ask for a review for my brand new TripAdvisor page. It would really help me grow my business and reputation in the long run so if you could spend just 5 minutes on this, I would really appreciate it."
Then, I would suggest you try out paid advertising with Google AdWords to target people researching your destination. There are a lot of resources on Google AdWords and a good place to start is on neilpatel.com. You can also read our free ebook and download weekly this checklist to get started.
You don't have to start out with a lot of money, try $20 first and see how that goes. Measure your success based on how many people visit your website from those ads and how many of them turn into bookings.
Finally, I would also suggest you consider promoting your services via an online travel agent like Viator, Get Your Guide or Tour Radar. It's not eliminating the middleman like you would like, but they do charge you a lot less for promoting your services, around 20% - 30%. I wrote an article comparing Viator and Get Your Guide which can be helpful in helping you decide which option is best.
I hope this helps and good luck.
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Published 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.