Agents and resellers send a lot of business your way, so it’s important that you help them run their business efficiently and serve their customers well.
This is your chance to learn:
Working with agents and resellers is an essential part of getting your product to reach a worldwide audience. Of course you want to work with them, but you need them to want to work with you as well. They have their own goals to achieve, every bit as much as you do.
Typically, an agent’s number one goal is to make their customers happy. Happy customers equals more business – it’s the same for them as it is for you. It seems like a gamble investing in giving these agents what they want when you’re not sure whether they can send you more bookings. This begs the question: do you really need to bother? According to us, yes you do. This is because agents and resellers have a huge customer base. They also have the ability to get your products out to the market faster than you could on your own, and thanks to their large and well-established networks, they can access markets that are much harder to reach that you might not have been able to access on your own.
Another reason why you want to keep their best interest at heart is more distribution channels equals more ways to reach customers. If you’re good at satisfying your resellers’ customers, you’re going to attract more resellers and gain more customers yourself. Each reseller is going to represent a new channel of bookings.
The reason why customers approach resellers is because they are looking for ideas for what to do. Resellers don’t want to disappoint in their suggestions because being dependable and reliable sources of quality suggestions is what their business relies on. They also want to be able to offer a breadth of activities so they can match the personality of their customers and offer them the most fun and positive experience possible.
Like we said, resellers’ businesses depend on being able to consistently provide quality suggestions. They want customers to have a positive experience every time they book based on a suggestion made by the reseller because it will make the reseller look bad if they make a suggestion for an activity that turns out to be a bad experience. From their perspective, this makes it essential that they work with good suppliers.
Given the size and dispersion of the audiences that resellers reach, it’s quite likely they’ll be receiving booking requests from people all over the world, and that means at all hours of the day. To this end, they want to be able to check your availability and lock in bookings as soon as possible 24/7. They don’t want to have to call you up and wait for a response every time they receive a booking request, especially if that means they might lose business to someone else who could provide the confirmation immediately.
Lastly, resellers want good commission tracking. They want to know that they’re being paid the right amount and, just like you, they don’t want to spend hours doing paperwork to make sure. You are likely not the only supplier they are working with, so they’ll have a lot of tracking they need to be across. If you can make it easy for them to keep track of your payments, it will endear you to them quite a lot.
The best-known resellers in the tour and activity industry are online travel agencies (OTAs).
The biggest global OTAs for tour operators are:
You may also know some national ones that are very well-known and worth partnering with. For example, in Australia, Red Balloon is a big distribution channel for tour operators.
There are other reseller options as well, such as visitor information centres or local distribution channels such as hotel concierges. The distribution strategy you pursue will depend on who you are trying to reach and the nature of the bookings you are trying to receive.
To help resellers inspire their customers, give them a sales kit. Tell them who you are and who your tour would be ideal for. This sales kit could include things like a fact sheet, brochures, maps, photos (these are a must), and videos can be helpful as well. Photos and videos are great for showing your target audience enjoying their experience with you. This can help to win over agents by proving to them that your activity is a good experience and would be a valuable addition to their lineup, as well as giving them the option of recycling this media to show their customers as well. If they can promote your activity effectively, it means more bookings for you.
One of the most effective ways you can prove to resellers that their customers will have a good time with you is by showing them reviews of your product. For example, send them a screenshot of your TripAdvisor page, or direct them to your Facebook page. If you have a couple of negative reviews, that’s fine. If the majority of reviews are positive, the agent can see that your product is consistently of a high standard. Besides, it’s really suspicious if a business has no negative reviews at all – it just looks like the owner has deleted the negative reviews.
Another thing we touched on is that resellers want to be able to book at any time. You can allow this when setting up your agent partnerships in Rezdy. When you share the catalogue of products you want to make available with the agent, you can allow them to create orders directly in Rezdy – essentially it sends them an invitation to create a free account that they can access directly and make bookings on your behalf. Of course you don’t have to do this, but if you want to reach an international audience, it’s definitely something agents will want.
A further permission you can offer agents in Rezdy is the permission to override product prices per order. It could potentially make it easier for an agent to make a sale if they were able to adjust prices.
The permission to update orders placed through that agent is another important element of flexibility you can offer your agents. If an order made through an agent is altered – if the customer wants to change the date or needs to cancel, for example – you can allow the agent to log into their Rezdy account and change the order entirely from their end. This saves them the trouble of needing to ring you up and inform you of the change. This is a convenience benefit more than anything else, and it could save the agent a lot of time and hassle trying to make sure they can get in contact with you every time an order changes.
Good, accurate commission tracking is easily done with commission reports. Rezdy can automatically keep track of how much commission you owe to your agents based on the commission rates you set up with each agent in Rezdy. All you need to do is log in and look at the report for an accurate, itemized commission report so you can clearly show how much commission you expect to have to pay. Rezdy can also automate the reconciliation process, so once you’re happy that you and your agent agree on who owes how much to whom, you can let Rezdy sort out making the payments for you.
Working with OTAs is a good strategy, but can be difficult to manage on an ongoing basis without the right technology to back you. How can you ensure that you don’t overbook tours when selling on multiple channels? How can availability be constantly up to date across your various distribution channels (without doing hours of admin work)?
Rezdy’s Channel Manager exists to do exactly that. Our Channel Manager lets you update your availability across all your distribution channels from the one place. This in combination with the OTAs we integrate with offers you some formidable distribution strategy options.
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