How do I prepare my business for working with the Travel Trade?
1. Who are you engaging with?
It is important to ensure that you are bringing the right customers and visitors to the door of your business, so it is really important before you start engaging with Travel Trade intermediaries that you do your research, are you targeting the right buyers?
- Find out more about the businesses you are talking too – know your customer.
- What is their focus, what kind of product do they sell?
- Who are their customers and are they interested in your type of product?
- What are their main markets?
- How do they distribute their product, online, brochure, social media?
- Do they book groups or FIT business?
Find out more about our visitors at visitscotland.org.
** Remember working with the travel trade is a two way relationship it has to suit you as well as the Travel Trade partner.
2. What do I need to have in place to work with the Travel Trade?
(i) Bookable Product
Whether you offer accommodation, transport, tourist attraction, restaurant or another service to visitors or tourists you need to have in place bookable products or experiences. When creating your bookable product key things to consider are:
- What is your base/core product?
- What is your unique proposition?
- Select your best fit offering for the travel trade – you can consider 2 or 3 options here maybe your standard offering them something more unique or niche or with “add-ons” maybe a special travel trade early tour with a bacon roll to encourage them to book off peak? A complimentary welcome drink with dinner to encourage them to dine in your hotel? There are endless options here to create something unique and encourage sales.
- What is your product name?
- How do the travel trade find and book your product, an e mail to an online booking tool?
- Rates and pricing.
- Terms & conditions (deposits, prepayment, cancellations).
- Working in partnership to create packages.
Once you have worked through the above process you should have a tangible product that you want to take to market to the Travel Trade.
(ii) Unique Selling Points – USPs
To differentiate your product from the competitors it is important to have a think about what makes you unique and different highlight this to the Travel Trade, why should they buy your product?
What are your USPs?
Working with the travel trade you need to factor in a margin for them within your pricing structure. Sometimes there can be 2 or 3 intermediaries in the booking process and each need to make a small margin to allow them to market your product. This can seem the most complicated part of working with the Travel Trade but there are really just 2 pricing models to consider:
Commissionable Trade Rates
Net Trade Rates
Other considerations to think about whilst setting your pricing: group rates, FIT rates, costs and break-even points, forward rates to 2023 and beyond, seasonality, bespoke pricing on enquiry, competitor pricing.
(iv) Terms, conditions & policies
It is important that you have all your policies, terms and conditions all agreed and in place ahead of working with the Travel Trade. Key points to consider here are:
- Do you offer credit facilities to the travel trade partner, or will you want them to pay up front. Sometimes the guest will arrive with a voucher as have prepaid their trip therefore the travel trade partner will require to be billed for this booking after the guest has departed.
- What are your cancellation terms, for both groups and individual guests.
- Do you have additional policies such as pets, families, parking charges, free places, accessibility and more that you need to share with the travel trade partners in advance.
- Do you have “upsell” opportunities to share with your Travel Trade partners?
Is your product availability accessible, is you real time availability live on your website or do the Travel Trade partners have to make contact to check? If so how? Make it clear who they have to contact.
Can you offer a guaranteed allocation? For example an agreed number of rooms, places on a tour on any given day that you can give the travel trade partner access to. This enables them to sell quickly and effectively without having to check availability. If you offer an allocation you would agree that x number of days in advance they would release any unsold room or places back to you that you are then able to add back into your own inventory to sell.
Freesale is another option to give the travel trade ease of access to your inventory to sell seamlessly. Freesale means that you allow them to freely sell your product until you close out the date or time window or tell them to stop.
(vi) Travel Trade Sales Tool Kit
- Product Facts Sheet this “one page wonder” should give the Travel Trade a good snapshot of your business, and include: some brief copy about your business, the destination, contact details, your product(s) and pricing information, any key highlights, unique selling points, how to book and terms and conditions and an image.
Download sample fact sheet (hotel)
Download sample fact sheet (attraction)
- Up to date website, easy to navigate, online booking available. As this is your shop window it is important that all information and images are current.
- Availability – live, allocation or freesale.
- Quality relevant images, have a selection of a few ready and handy to send to the Travel Trade as required.
- Video, a short video is a great way to showcase your product or offering.
- Booking information i.e. email or booking link. (quick turnaround time)
- Information in additional languages it is helpful (though not essential) if you have access to this in the languages of your key target markets.
- Clear pricing structure (commission or net rate).
- Clear terms and conditions – cancellation, payment and other policies.
- Relevant news updates, e mails and communications to Travel Trade partners to keep them up to date with your product and news.
- Can you collaborate with your “near neighbours” to offer packages?
- Offer trade partners to visit your business and experience it first hand, fam trip.
- Relationship account management, keep in touch regular communications.
Please note it can take some time (sometimes years) to get your business featured with some operators due to the length of the sales cycle, but we can’t stress enough importance of ongoing engagement and communications to remain front of mind with them.
Travel Trade Timelines, 12 – 24 month lead in time: