Effective distribution channel strategies for tourism products need to be carefully aligned to where main tourism business development influences exist, and to be integrated as part of company pricing strategy and tourism promotion within the overall tourism marketing plan. Aviation and Tourism U.S.A. has a great deal of experience with the many options for tourism distribution, which can vary considerably depending upon the size and nature of product fulfillment requirements.
Here are examples:
In the USA, many Tourism destination organizations allocate a more substantial proportion of USA promotion expenditure towards Travel Trade promotion than towards influencing consumers directly. Yet most Americans carry out their own research and choose a destination themselves. Less than 8% of American international travelers are influenced by a travel agent when choosing an international destination.* Such travelers will generally use a travel agent as a conduit for attending to specialist or more complex needs (calling upon the skills of destination specialists or niche activity travel agents).
Resorts, Hotels, Cruise, Sightseeing or Activity Operators, Regional Tourism
Travel agents in their “conduit role” of handling specialist or more complex itineraries do have more of an influencing role on product choice and on sub-region tourism. While some customers will be confident to book direct with resorts, hotels, or local operators once they have decided on their destination, many prefer to seek professional advice on the specifics of what to see and do, where to stay, and how to get around. This is better handled by a destination specialist rather than the general travel agency community.
The creation and fostering of destination specialist retail memberships by tourism organizations also assists in closing destination sales from those customers who have not quite decided, but want to know more detail. Destination specialists will often provide recommendations to intending travelers based on their own personal experiences. Educational visitation, therefore, plays an important role. Strong product knowledge also provides confidence for recommendations. Adequate product training is, therefore, most important (on site or offsite).
Many of the larger North American tour operators and cruise companies marketing international tours and cruises tend to have their own following of repeat travelers. Yields can be significantly reduced by becoming part of one of these programs, but result in significant volumes.
Large online agencies are usually less targeted but can reach much wider audiences. However, this form of distribution can also be costly.
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