The travel distribution system is an evolving beast; there are always new players, consolidations, new technologies and devices. So how do you, as a tourism operator, keep pace?
The first step is to understand the landscape and who the main players in online travel distribution are.
Here are some interesting facts and figures: Did you know that currently 57% of all travel bookings are made online? This highlights the importance of having a great online booking system. The average growth in online bookings has been 12.8% for the last 5 years and the projected growth for the next 5 is 8.5%.
So, what does this mean to you, as a business operator? Well, now is the time to get your head around the travel distribution system.
This is good news. There are take overs, mergers, consolidations and startups, but you are probably aware of the major players like:
and then there are the aggregators who seem to advertise on TV all the time!
Try this simple exercise, go to Google and search your own business. Does your own website feature highly in the results? If not, then you should look into your SEO (Search engine optimization). It sounds complicated, but it just means that the search engines like Google can easily find your website when a customer enters a relevant keyword.
If your business is showing up on the big players websites, congratulations! Your booking engine is working well and you should be receiving bookings through these channels.
So, what do you do if this is not the case? You need to learn more about the distribution system and develop a channel strategy.
A Channel Strategy is a plan that identifies the best websites, social networks and apps on which to market your business to move the customer to purchase your product. It’s about ensuring your product can be found in the places your customers are looking.
A direct channel means that you bring the customer direct to your own booking engine on your website, thus reducing commissions and fees. Your own website is an important place for customers to book online, as you have reduced costs and usually deposit money direct into your bank account. But, given the millions of websites, even with effective SEO, it’ll be wise to work with the larger players.
If you find your own website in the Google search then your SEO is fine, but if you’re not appearing on the big players websites, you need to do the following:
If the reverse is the case and your appearing on the “big players” websites and your own website is buried then you need to work on your SEO, quick smart.