Top Distribution Channels for Tours and Activities
There are 2 main components to running a successful tour or activity business – your offer and your market. How you manage these will determine the ultimate success or failure of your business.
Assuming you’ve developed a great offer and you know exactly who you want to attract, it’s time to connect the two and bring your offer to the right audience. How do you do that? There are numerous distribution channels that can get your tour or activity in front of your target market. In this post, we’ll look at the top distribution channels any tour or activity provider should master.
1. Your Website
Your website should be the primary online channel you use for acquiring new customers. The reason is you have full control over your website which is not always true when using other online channels. You can control things like the branding and messaging, but more importantly – you will not pay any commission fees to resellers.
To make your website a success, you need to generate traffic and build a standout online experience. You can get visitors to your site in multiple ways but generally we can divide them into 4 categories:
- Organic traffic generated through Search Engines like Google or Bing.
- Direct traffic which usually comes from word of mouth or people typing your website name directly into their browser’s address bar.
- Social traffic which comes from social networks like Facebook and Instagram.
- Referral traffic which comes from links on other websites like Tripadvisor.
The category you choose to focus on will depend on the type of customers you want to attract and their purchasing habits. For example, if you’re aiming for young people who are tech-savvy, you’re likely to find them on modern social networks. Usually, you will have traffic from all sources with one or two leading the way when it comes to numbers. See our article on ways to drive more traffic to your website to learn more.
But even if you drive a sufficient amount of people to your website, you still need a great web experience that drives sales. To make a standout site, it’s important to present your tour or activity in a compelling way while offering an easy checkout process. A good framework for building your website structure comes from the world of sales: AIDA. It stands for:
Attention: Create an exciting headline that captivates your visitors once they arrive at your website.
Interest: Describe the key benefit your tour or activity provides, making sure to mention who it’s best suited for.
Desire: Highlight the best parts of your tour or activity using both words and exciting images to instill a desire to act in your visitors.
Action: Provide a clear call to action to purchase your tour or activity, followed by a streamlined checkout process.
If you follow the tips above for generating traffic and converting it to sales, your website can become the biggest and most profitable channel for selling your tours or activities. But sometimes you will need an extra boost, especially during low season. This is where additional channels come in.
TripAdvisor is the undisputed leader when it comes to travel and tourism. The main site generates over 175 million visits per month. And that’s not counting the local versions like TripAdvisor.de or TripAdvisor.co.uk. If you’re looking to reach more people, it’s one of the best places to start.
The primary ways to rank high on TripAdvisor are ratings and reviews. If you want to turn it into one of your top distribution channels, you must offer an exceptional experience to your visitors and encourage them to leave positive reviews on TripAdvisor.
How good of an experience you provide is, of course, highly subjective. Some people may have a great time, while others could remain unimpressed. What you have under your control, however, is this: who you target and how well you serve customers. While these are absolute basics, they are often ignored, leaving many complaints or suboptimal reviews online. Read our dedicated article on getting a high TripAdvisor ranking to learn more.
3. Expedia Local Expert
Expedia Local Expert is the “Things to do” section in the main Expedia site. It lists various tours, activities and attractions in a given location. With over 63M monthly visits on the main site, it’s also one of the most popular travel websites worldwide.
While ratings and reviews are a core feature in your Expedia listing, the site doesn’t rely on them as much as TripAdvisor does. This means that ranking high will require both time and making the most of the people who land on your page.
The top things to keep in mind are the title and photos you choose for your listing. They are the most prominent items your potential customers see, therefore you need to take extra care and make sure they are outstanding.
Another key is your pricing strategy. Expedia lets users sort tours and activities by price so it pays to research how much your direct and indirect competitors charge. Apart from competitors, keep in mind Expedia’s own fees when setting up offers.
Like its parent company (TripAdvisor), Viator is largely driven by user reviews. It’s one of the largest directories for tours and activities. Viator is hugely popular among English-speaking countries like the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. So if you want to attract visitors from these countries, it’s a great place to list your offers.
Similar to other online travel agencies (OTAs), it’s crucial to include compelling images, title, and description for your listing. This way you maximize the chances that people who land on your page will actually buy your tour or activity.
Apart from your rating and reviews, you can also compete on price, duration, and popularity. So if your offer is for a tour or activity that has a longer duration, Viator is a good way to distribute it.
In this post, we looked at some of the most popular channels for distributing your tour or activity online. These include your website, TripAdvisor, Expedia, and Viator.
While each channel serves a particular purpose, your website is usually the most important place to focus on as it gives you the most control and potential benefit. You can supplement your marketing efforts with other channels, such as OTAs, to avoid seasonal fluctuations and fill up your capacity.
It’s hard to manage all those distribution channels. Try Regiondo’s channel manager to keep track of all bookings in one place now.