Tourism distribution channels are the links between your business and your customers.
There are two ways of reaching potential customers:
Direct; through brochure distribution, business website, social media and customer referrals.
Indirect; targeting your customers through third-parties and tourism distribution channels such as retail and online travel agencies, wholesalers, inbound tour operators and visitor information centres.
Marketing strategies can help you attract customers directly, however with advertising costs, the return on investment is generally unknown. Distribution allows you to connect with customers indirectly and the cost is incorporated in the commission once a booking has been made. Effectively, commission is the advertising cost you pay once the booking has been confirmed.
The below benchmarks formulate the distribution pillar, in order from developing to leading levels.
The Australian Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW) is Australia’s national tourism database. ATDW lists and distributes over 40,000 Australian tourism product and experiences.
Registering with ATDW is essential for general online distribution of your product. Once your ATDW listing is activated your business can be published to over 200 online distributors.
Having a business listing on ATDW is also a requirement for your business to appear on the Tourism NT consumer website and to access many Tourism NT grant programs. As a NT tourism operator, your ATDW listing is fully subsidised by Tourism NT.
For further assistance on your ATDW listing contact Tourism NT [email protected]
Setting the right price is important to attract your target customers and to create sufficient profit margins. Factoring in commission means your product can be sold through more channels of distribution without incurring a loss.
A pricing or rate sheet outlines the price for your product. This can include specific rates that apply to adults, children, family, concession and groups. It can also include package pricing, seasonal pricing or optional add-on pricing.
For further assistance on pricing your product contact Tourism NT on [email protected]
Active self-promotion can be achieved in many ways, including:
- a local marketing and advertising campaign
- brochures distributed in strategic locations
- geo-targeting campaigns on social media
- at local events
- radio and TV
- promoting your business to travel agents and visitor information centres who may sell your product.
For further assistance in self-promoting contact a tourism development representative at your RTO.
A membership with your local Regional Tourism Organisation (RTO) offers many options for you to distribute your product.
Distribution options include:
- online and in-person bookings via Bookeasy
- brochure display
- digital advertisements
- poster displays
- your business listing on free visitor maps/guides.
To distribute your product through the RTOs contact a tourism development representative at your RTO.
Both Regional Tourism Organisations (RTOs) in the Northern Territory host product pitching.
At Tourism Top End and Tourism Central Australia there is an opportunity for businesses to pitch their product to the travel consultants. Consider educating the consultants on your product offerings and showcase your unique selling points.
For Tourism Central Australia product pitch bookings contact [email protected]
What is a package? A package features one price, and includes a combination of individual products purchased by the consumer in one transaction.
Before creating a package, consider:
- who is the package for?
- what is motivating the consumer to purchase your package?
- what is included in the package?
- how will the package be promoted?
Packaging your product with your wider business offerings or with other businesses product can expose your offering to new markets as it increases available experiences.
For example, if you operate a half-day cultural tour in a remote region such as East Arnhem Land, package the tour with flights and accommodation in the region to make it convenient for consumers. This can also increase economic benefits in the destination with an additional night’s stay.
For further information on product packaging contact Tourism NT on [email protected]
Factoring commission into your rates will ensure your product can be bookable via third-parties, such as online and retail travel agents, travel wholesalers and inbound tour operators (for the international market).
Commission should be considered as a marketing expense, and is payment for a service provided to your business. The service being offered can include a third-party who markets your product and introduces a new customer to your business, which can lead to a sale that you would not have otherwise received.
Depending on who and which channel you choose to work with, the commission is usually between 10-30%.
Generally speaking you can expect to pay:
- 10% for retail travel agents
- 12.5% for visitor information centres
- 15-25% for online travel agents
- 20-30% for wholesale travel agents
- 25-30% for inbound travel agents
An agent or online distribution channel’s role is to reach consumers and generate sales, and their income is derived from commissions of those sales. As a tourism operator, you can generate your own sales. If your business is at full capacity all the time, there may be no reason to use agents. However, this rarely happens, so many operators use agents who are specialists at reaching people and selling your product.
Factoring commission in your pricing structure will ensure a third-party booking does not impact your profit.
Refer to page 2 of how to price your product factsheet to understand incorporating commission when pricing your product.
For further information on factoring commission in your pricing contact Tourism NT on [email protected]
Collaborating with one or more marketing partners can help your product reach a wider audience and new markets. There are various marketing partners you can work with, such as other businesses that complement your existing product, travel agencies, and local, regional and state tourism organisations.
For further information on cooperative marketing partners contact Tourism NT on [email protected]
Offering your product or experience to trade and agent familiarisation (famil) itineraries will expose your product and educate the industry, who in return will sell and promote your business.
For further information on participating in trade famil programs contact Tourism NT on [email protected]
A marketing plan focuses on the how, when, where, who and what. It outlines the specific steps to accomplish your marketing goals, which are based around your business goals.
Examples of marketing goals that are based around business goals, include:
Business goal: increase market development.
Marketing goal: developing specific campaigns at new target markets.
Business goal: increase online exposure.
Marketing goal: develop and execute an SEO strategy.
Business goal: develop longer tour options.
Marketing goal: advertise tour options through electronic direct mail (eDMs) and social media.
Consider participating in some of Tourism NT’s annual domestic trade events such as NT Muster and NT Round Up. These events help your business gain exposure and assists in building relationships with travel buyers and distributors.
For information on Tourism NT’s domestic trade events, visit tourismnt.com.au
Engaging with multiple distribution partners enables you to take advantage of their marketing efforts to reach customers you wouldn’t otherwise have access to.
Distribution partners can be a various mix of online travel agencies, retail travel agencies, inbound tour operators, wholesalers and more.
For further information on connecting with tourism distribution partners contact Tourism NT on [email protected]