5 Questions All Tour Operators Should Ask Their Potential Distribution Partners

25 Nov 2014     |    Taz Bareham

Are you asking the right questions when partnering with your tour and activity resellers?

Make sure you vet potential distribution partners by asking…

1. What kind of traffic does your business get?

There’s no point in partnering with an agent that has zero reach.

If it’s a brick and mortar agent, like a Visitor Information Centre (VIC), then ask them how much foot traffic they get. If they’re online, they may be able to share the amount of visits they usually get per month.

You can also do a bit of research by searching for keywords on Google and seeing if ads come up. For example, if you run a food tour in Hong Kong, search for “food tours Hong Kong” and see if they’ve paid for any ads, or even better, rank organically for the keyword.

2. What markets do they have access to?

Find out which locations they are strongest in, and whether they have strong sales of tours and activities in your area.

If you have a very niche offering – for example, if you are an eco-tour who solely targets bird watchers – does their audience match yours?

You will find that some have access to very different markets – and that’s a good thing!

For example, one agent can give you access to young backpackers, and another can give you access to retirees. You can then tailor your tour products to match each audience, increasing your bookings and your revenue.

3. How do you run your business?

It’s time to assess your partner for their financial stability and business processes.

While they probably won’t be prepared to share their revenue statement with you, some great indicators of this are:

  • Their resources – the number of staff they have, and the technology they use.
  • The way they accept, process, and manage bookings – is it a manual process that is prone to human error? You don’t want to be stressing out later on because you have to play phone and email tag.
  • Their history – look at how long have they been running, whether they have any awards, and any other indicators of a good reputation.

4. What’s your product mix?

Tour operators should also consider how their business fits into the agent’s overall product/service mix.

Ask them

  • What they like about your tour products.
  • If they represent any of your competitors.
  • What their sales projections are.

How well they are able to answer these questions will show you how interested they are in your business. It will prove they have put some genuine thought into it.

5. What’s your marketing strategy?

How they market to their customers will also impact their ability to send bookings your way.

  • Ask them how they plan to promote your tour/activity. Are they going to do it in a way you’d never be able to afford (eg. PPC keyword bidding)? How successful have they been with these strategies in the past with businesses similar to you?
  • Who their network contacts are.

Your agent should also be able to describe what return they have received from each of their marketing investments.

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