Updated June 2022 – The days of travel agents being limited to independent storefronts in shopping malls are far behind us. There are numerous different types of travel agents nowadays across a variety of platforms. This makes travel and tour bookings accessible for everyone, no matter where they are in the world. From online travel agents and global distribution systems, to independent agents and visitor centers: tours and travel activities can be booked in numerous convenient ways. This means that tour operators must extend their presence across these different types of travel agency platforms to compensate for all of the many types of bookings.

In order to grow their business and increase online bookings, tour and activity operators need to form relationships with travel agents from across the industry. A travel agency partnership will dramatically boost the visibility of your tour business and help drive bookings. 

Don’t know where to begin or how to present your business to a potential travel agent partner? Here’s everything you need to know about the different types of travel agency platforms to ensure that you know what exactly to look for in an ideal agency partner.

What exactly is a travel agent?

A travel agent is a person working for a private retailer or public service organization that provides travel and tourism-related advice and services. Travel agents work on the behalf of travel suppliers (i.e. hotels, transport companies, travel insurance, tour operators) to supply different types of travel agency packages to their clients. They will arrange the logistics of travel for their clients while simultaneously acting as an ‘agent’ to different travel service suppliers. If you are a tour operator, travel agents are key to unlocking visibility amongst tourists that are traveling to your destination. As they are representing your company, travel agents will require a fee or commission for their services. This fee will differ depending on the travel agent’s policies.

What are the different types of travel agents that tour operators can work with?

Here are the 6 types of travel agents tour operators can work with in building mutually beneficial relationships.

1. Independent travel agents

The different types of travel agents

Most travelers prefer independent travel agents as their go-to type of retail travel agent.

Both offline and online travel agents want to customize the travel itineraries for their clients in order to include tours and activities that interest them.

By partnering with independent travel agents and using distribution technology like Rezdy, you can increase your online distribution. Making it easy for agents to recommend your products. 

Independent travel agent commission percentages will differ from agent to agent. Typically, independent agents can earn a commission between 15 and 25 percent for booking your activities.

2. Online travel agents

What are the different types of travel agents online

You’ve probably already heard the acronym OTA, but exactly what is an OTA in travel?

Online travel agents (OTAs) are web-based platforms where travelers can plan and book travel products directly from their websites. OTAs rely on the convenience and ease of the Internet in order to create packages for their clients. Today, many travelers want to find the best way to book travel packages that include not only transportation and accommodations but also excursions, tours and activities.

By forming relationships with online travel agents, tour and activity operators can increase their online distribution. Through Rezdy’s online booking system, online travel agents can book with you directly and earn a commission at the same time.

3. Visitor information centers

types of retail travel agents

A visitor information center provides travelers with a centralized location to shop for souvenirs and access free advice on the local area’s attractions, accommodations, maps, and other key information. This makes them a popular destination for travelers who are unfamiliar with the region and want to gain knowledge about local activities.

Local governments often operate visitor information centers, which give their advice and services a level of authority.

Let your local visitor information center know that they can easily book your tours and activities online. This will ensure that they will be more apt to recommend your products.

4. Hotel and concierge services

Different types of travel agents

With the rise of mobile technology, the role of the concierge has changed. However, concierges remain an important source of personalized, local recommendations. Hotel concierge services can play a key role in increasing the visibility of your business as they offer real-time and instant information.

Operators should work with concierges in their region to let them know how convenient it is to book their tours. In addition, they will be pleased to know they will receive a fair commission for quickly booking with you.

5. Inbound tour operators

Online types of travel agents

Inbound tour operators are considered experts in a given destination, and they are aware of the best tours and activities in any region. They recommend these excursions to their clients, so it’s beneficial to work with these agents to promote your products. They will be more apt to recommend reliable, exciting tours that are easy to reserve.

6. Global distribution systems

Global types of travel agency

A global distribution system is a worldwide conduit between travelers and travel providers. The computerized network system is operated by a company that enables online reservations by enabling transactions. Online and offline agents will utilize global distribution systems to automatically reserve available tours and activities in a particular destination.

Working with global distribution systems, such as Amadeus and Sabre, will help you increase your online distribution and help you secure more bookings. These systems prefer to work with tour providers who offer easy online booking for their activities and tours. Global distribution systems mainly work with service providers that offer real-time inventory.

Want to boost your visibility to tour agents?

Building rapport with travel agents involves more than just a single conversation. A successful partnership will rely upon constant communication and a clear outline of everyone’s roles and responsibilities. You and your agent should benefit from your partnership, so measuring and monitoring its success is important.

Travel agencies will have special requirements and processes for the partnerships they form. Therefore, it’s important that your company is in its best shape before contacting the different types of travel agents. You should also be aware of what type of travel agent will best promote our business. Your travel agent partner should have characteristics that make them the right fit for your specific company. If you doubt that your target customers would utilize a certain type of travel agent platform, then it’s best to focus your attention elsewhere.

Now that you know who you can partner up with, here’s how to get travel agents to sell your tours. 

Start your free trial today

Rezdy streamlines your booking software to accommodate bookings that are finalized through a variety of different types of travel agency platforms. As a booking software customer, you’ll also have instant access to Rezdy Channel Manager. An online distribution platform designed for tour and activity operators – with over 25,000 resellers that includes the different types of travel agents listed above.

Sign up for a free 21-day trial or book a demo with Rezdy today to experience how simple your tour operator booking processes can be with an all-in-one platform.

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