A distribution channel is the way that your services get to your customer, and how they pay for it. It can either be a direct transaction (for example, through your website), or involve third party resellers.

For tour operators, there are 5 third-party distribution channels that can’t (or at least shouldn’t) be ignored.

1. OTAs (Online Travel Agencies)

Online travel agencies will list your tour or activity on their site and allow their users to search for and click through to book with you. Usually this is through a pay-per-click format. Make sure that they have what they need to promote your business in a good light.

2. Government Websites

Destination-focused government websites are a good channel to leverage. For tours and activities, you will usually be required to meet certain criteria. For example, Destination NSW requires that you offer regular organised excursions with scheduled departures, a personal guide or host and commentary.

3. VICs (Visitor Information Centres)

VICs will organise accommodation, tour, and transport bookings for visitors. Because travelers often go to these centres to seek information on what to do at a particular destination, it would be wise to contact your local VIC and see how you can partner with them.

Some VICs don’t ask for commission for bookings that they send to you, while others have a pricing structure to list on their site. It really depends on the VIC.

4. Daily Deal Websites

Vouchers and coupons are the perfect channel for filling your capacity during slower periods. A daily deal site can boost awareness of your business without spending thousands on marketing. It’s also a good way to upsell by selling extras along with your deal. Just remember to set a logical limit to the number of coupons sold, and not to offer a discount that is too high.

5. Concierge Services

Concierges at hotels assist their guests with tasks that will help them get the most out of the destination. This means they make reservations for restaurants, spas, transport, events, tours and activities. Drop off your brochures at nearby hotels and convince your concierge that it’s a good idea to resell you.

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