As many countries start reopening their borders, we can finally start thinking about traveling internationally again. In fact, many travelers are already planning their next international trip. We asked these travelers how they plan to find experiences and activities to do on their holiday.

In this article, we’ll put you in the shoes of the customer, going through their booking journey to identify the partners that’ll maximize your bookings from international travelers.

While it’s great to drive direct bookings, it’s worth noting that not all travelers will come across your direct channels; if your goal is to maximize the visibility of your tours and activities among international travelers and drive more bookings, then it’s important to not only know the difference between direct and indirect channels, but also to consider the following:

Top 3 distribution partners to capture international travelers

1) Online travel agents (OTA)

43% of travelers we spoke to mentioned that they previously booked their tours & experiences through an online travel agent. This was done either while they were booking their flights and accommodations through the online travel agent or while they were browsing through the OTA after they arrived at their destination.

While not all tour operators are fond of OTAs, there’s no denying that there are plenty of travelers who prefer booking through OTAs. Many travelers prefer a ‘one-stop shop’ especially when they have already booked their hotels and flights through the OTA. This is especially true for international travelers.

“We used, it was amazing how quickly they got back to us when we had issues with our flight. Because of their customer service, we decided to book all the activities during our trip through”

2) Accommodation

29% of travelers we spoke to booked their activities through the reception at their accommodation. The irony is that people travel because of the experiences they will have but experiences are the last thing they book- most of the time leaving it to after they have arrived at their accommodation. According to Google, almost half (48%) of activity/tour/experience bookings happen while travelers are at their destination.

In the short term, we can’t change how travelers plan their holidays. However, we can ensure that we maximize the visibility of our tours and activities so that no matter how or when they choose to book their tours or activities, they book yours.

If a customer only books a tour or activity when they have arrived at the accommodation, then ensure that you are partnered with the accommodations around you; so they’re ready to recommend your tours and activities to their guests who ask. It’s a quick and inexpensive way to capture those last-minute bookings.

3) Visitor information centers

As mentioned above, many travelers only look for things to do when they arrive at their destination. In fact, 38% of tour and activity bookings happen up to two days before the day of the activity, according to Phocuswright.

Visitor information centers are one of the top places that travelers go to upon arriving at their destination to look for recommendations on things to do nearby; so you’ll want to ensure that you’re partnered with your local visitor information center.

Bonus: Google Things to do

How often have you googled “things to do” when you’re looking for… well… things to do.

Google has just released Google Things to do, a new search experience for tours, activities and attractions that enables direct bookings through a supplier’s website. When a traveler searches for things to do, Google will showcase relevant listings with a ‘visit site’ link that’ll direct the traveler to your booking page to complete the booking.

You may also receive an ‘official site badge’ for your listing which will help you stand out from your competitors.

Google Things to do is currently free to use. However, it’s worth noting that Google has also released a new ad format on Things to do. The new ad format is very similar to Google Shopping Ads – which now win 85.3% of all clicks across US online retail according to Adthena Search Advertising Report. Meaning this new ad format may capture the majority of clicks related to tours & activities searches in the future.

So, this might be another example of a tourism distribution channel you want to consider investing in. Especially given the continued growth in google search traffic.

It’s the cherry on top

As mentioned above, direct bookings are great but not all travelers will come across your direct channels. By growing your distribution network, you can maximize the visibility of your tours and activities among international travelers and drive more bookings in addition to your direct bookings.