While direct bookings are incredibly valuable to tour and activity operators, it’s impossible to build a vibrant, successful business on direct bookings alone. This is why tour and activity providers need to develop relationships with travel agents throughout the industry.
What are Travel Agents?
Travel agents are professionals who work within the travel industry and who book travel products for specific types of clients or organizations. While some travel agents work directly with consumers, others work within the industry to create and design packages that are promoted to other types of travel agents.
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6 Types of Agents All Tour Operators Should Know About
- Online Travel Agents — Better known in the industry as OTAs, these powerful travel agents can drive significant bookings within your tour and activity company. Some well-known OTAs include Expedia and Viator. These companies aggregate tourism products and provide consumers with an easy way to browse various options at different price points. In addition to the largest OTAs in the industry, consider partnering with OTAs that work with specific outbound travel markets.
- Independent Travel Agents — Also known as retail travel agents, these agents work directly with consumers in order to create valuable and affordable travel packages. Independent travel agents often want to partner with tour and activity companies that work with a channel manager, as this allows them to instantly access live rates and availability at any given time.
- Inbound Tour Operators — Sometimes referred to as ITOs, these agents are considered to be destination experts. They work within a specific destination, getting to know the various travel products that are available there so that they can recommend tours, activities and other excursions to their clients. Developing a relationship with these agents is particularly advantageous for tour and activity operators who are hoping to build their brand recognition.
- Global Distribution Systems — These are systems that travel agents use in order to discover available products in a particular destination, and instantly book tours and activities for their clients. It is critical that tour and activity operators who want to attract travelers from different markets around the world have a presence on at least one widely-used GDS.
- Hotel Concierges — Tour and activity operators can easily connect with these accessible agents, who are often located within the hotel lobbies throughout the region. Hotel concierges often book tours and activities for their guests, but they are more apt to recommend a specific company when they have the opportunity to earn a commission. By using a channel manager, hotel concierges can book with your brand and instantly earn a commission for reselling your products.
- Visitor Information Centres — Similar to hotel concierges, these centres are often found in a central location within a city or destination. They are usually willing to resell tour and activity products through a channel manager when they have the opportunity to earn a commission.
Partnering with reputable and high-quality agents is an integral part of your tour and activity company’s distribution strategy. To learn more about distribution and to understand other travel terms within the travel space, download the Rezdy’s Travel Tourism Glossary today.