By Blake Ng — 6 Apr 2020
This is the second article in our series on Choosing a Tour Booking Platform. Last time, we explored the vital questions to ask about data security & autonomy. Now, let’s explore what you should be asking about tourism distribution channels and how yours can help boost bookings for your tours or activities.
Your distribution channel includes all the ways you can, directly and indirectly, take bookings from customers, including through your own website and through resellers. A reseller is a travel agent or other business who sells your tours or activities on your behalf – and you can provide real-time tour availability and booking capability to these resellers through the reseller marketplace if your booking platform offers one. So what will you need to ask when choosing a new booking platform?
Tour and activity operators like yourself should have control over which resellers you use, to suit the way you run your business. For example, some tour operators might prefer to use the major online travel agents (OTAs) like Booking.com and TripAdvisor, while others might prefer more region-specific resellers. You might wish to sell tours through niche resellers such as luxury or adventure travel agents, through a tour & activity marketplace like RedBalloon or using a mix of all reseller types.
The problem is, many booking platforms will dictate your distribution mix, taking this decision away from your control and optimising your distribution channels mix to suit them when it should suit you. It’s so important to find a platform like Rezdy that will give you full choice and control over your distribution mix.
This is a big factor to consider when choosing a tour booking platform because so many providers will limit you when it comes to your choice of resellers. For example: Peek guides you to sell tours through their own subsidiary OTA; Xola offers no functionality to connect with in-destination agents; while Checkfront limits the number of resellers you can connect to with each pricing plan. Rezdy offers the most extensive distribution channel of any booking platform, with unlimited access to over 18,000 resellers: from Viator and RedBalloon, to local visitor centres and travel agents, to region-specific resellers like Civitavis and Musement. Using a different platform? You can still access Rezdy’s extensive reseller marketplace for free and simply pay a booking fee for any bookings you take through the marketplace.
Some booking platforms, such as FareHarbor, will negotiate terms and prices on your behalf if you choose to sell through their B2B travel marketplace or tour operator marketplace. While this might seem convenient, it could mean your tours might be booked with terms that aren’t ideal for you, or through OTAs that you prefer not to be associated with. Let us stress this – you should be in total control of your distribution channels network! Be sure that you choose a booking platform that will give you flexibility over the agents you want to work with as well as the pricing and terms that work for you both. We’re not trying to toot our own horn here, but this flexibility is something we really focus on at Rezdy because we know how much it means to tour operators.
Some booking platforms offer a convenient hands-off approach to resellers, and this works for some tour and activity operators. If you don’t mind who you resell through or don’t need to establish any reseller relationships, then an option like FareHarbor could be for you.
However, many tour operators see value in building strategic partnerships with the resellers who will help them to grow their sales. To use the examples from earlier, some will like working closely with local resellers, luxury resellers or adventure resellers. Being able to propose custom terms and pricing can be important to these relationships. It’s worth thinking about these distribution channels before you choose your booking platform because it can have a profound impact on the future of your business.
And there they are: the most important questions to ask about a booking platform’s reseller marketplace as they relate to your distribution channels. We would always suggest signing up to a platform’s free trial to explore the full functionality for yourself, and we’re here to answer any questions you might have regarding reseller relationships.
Coming up next: The questions you should be asking about costs and booking fees.