How to get agents to partner with your tourism business
Unless you are already well-established in the domestic market, it can be difficult to attract agents to your business and build successful partnerships with them. The good news is you can always work hard towards getting there. Here are the requirements agents seek, and how to get agents to partner with your tourism business.
1. Instant online booking confirmation
One of the biggest pains that agents experience when booking tours and activities is the length of time it takes to confirm bookings. Most tour operators offer a 24-hour turnaround time via email, but this is less ideal than an automated booking system.
Without a quick way to check your availability (in real time) and book with you, agents will be unable to confirm it with their customers immediately. Instant booking confirmation allows you and your agents to offer better customer service. Bonus points for software like Rezdy that allows agents to log in and book directly. This is low hanging fruit to get agents to partner with your tourism business.
2. Successful domestic marketing strategy
The way you promote yourself in the domestic market will give your agents confidence that you know what you’re doing.
Even if you’re a small business that’s just starting out and pressed for resources, you can at least work on:
- Building your online reviews on TripAdvisor, Google, and Facebook
- Partnering with Visitor Information Centers
- Networking at trade shows
- Partnering with OTAs (Online Travel Agencies)
It makes much more sense to figure out how to tackle the domestic market before venturing overseas. If you make a mistake, it will be less costly.
3. Awareness of how product fits into international markets
Once you have familiarised yourself with the local market, and where your tour or activity fits in to meet its needs, then you can start to think about meeting the needs of international markets.
Instead of rushing into it, research needs to be conducted to figure out what your competitors are doing, and whether a new tour product needs to be created to better suit the needs of those international markets.
For example, if you know that most Chinese travelers are interested in luxury and shopping, you can fit a stop at a local market into your itinerary.
There are a host of things to consider when partnering with overseas agents. Make sure you carefully assess who you are working with.
4. Understanding of commission rates
Commission is what matters most to agents, because it’s how they get paid. There are 2 types of rates; the retail rate (what customers pay), and the nett rate (what agents see to add their commission).
There are a few commission rate mistakes that you should avoid:
- Giving the same commission rate to different types of agents
- Giving only a 5% difference of commission between different types of agents
- Giving last minute bookings from online travel sites better rates than agents
- Having different domestic and international distribution rates
Distributors expect you to understand the industry standards for agent commission.
5. Quality assurance program
How do you make sure your tours are consistently delivered to a high standard? Agents need to see that this is a priority for you because they are to blame if customers have a bad time.
If people keep complaining to your agents then you can be sure that they won’t recommend you in the future, no matter how high your commission is.
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