Marketing to the Travel Trade

Step One – Research

(i) What markets are right for your product?

VisitScotland and VisitBritain have extensive research & statistics available on international and domestic visitors. Explore how they book/ how long they stay / what they like to do / when they travel.
In most instances there is a summary overview! 

(ii) Use local networks to reach the travel trade

Network with other local businesses. There are many local tourism businesses who already work with the Travel Trade, in Edinburgh and in other areas.  They may be happy to share some market knowledge, as well as make some introductions and referrals. We cannot stress enough the importance of collaboration to highlight your business to the Travel Trade.

You may also wish to contact or join one of these ”like minded” organisations. Within Edinburgh there are several active networking and business groups.

Scotland’s Heritage Partnership – heritage attractions around Scotland promoting together to the Travel Trade. Members from heritage attraction sector.

Edinburgh Hotels Association – membership organisation representing the unified voice of the hotels in the city.

Edinburgh Capital Group – membership group for everyone working in local attractions, tours, theatre, and events in Edinburgh and The Lothians. Contact: edinburghcapitalgroup@gmail.com.

Cruise Forth – supports the welcome and best practise for cruise ships around the Forth. It also has contacts with the Cruise handlers and agent organising trips ashore.

ASVA Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions – with over 250 members, representing visitor attraction sector.

Scottish B&B Association (SBBA) – the trade association for B&B, guest house and small independent hotel owners in Scotland.

ASSC (Association of Scottish Self-Caterers) – the leading source of knowledge on short-term letting and holiday homes in Scotland. The ASSC is the only trade body representing the interests of the traditional self-catering sector.

Step Two – Promote your product in the right places 

Register your business and trade ready product on VisitScotland’s trade website, for free.  It’s their main trade product platform as well as a resource for training travel agents (Specialist Counsellor on travel to Scotland, SCOTS agents). A range of itineraries are also available on this site, ideally aim to be integrated into the relevant ebook (itinerary).

Don’t forget also VisitBritain’s team in the UK and overseas and their trade know how.

Step Three – Meet the Buyers

VisitScotland provides a variety of business events & platforms through the year, including their own annual tourism exhibition (usually in April) to meet with operators. Developing that B2B relationship for success is key, then there is great value in these opportunities for sales and for some fact finding.

VisitBritain also has a range of events. 

Trade Shows and workshops, there is a programme through the year and key ones on the calendar are:

  • VisitScotland‘s Trade event – VisitScotland Expo / Discover Scotland 
  • VisitBritain – Explore GB
  • Many other events throughout the year such as World Travel Market, London (WTM) & ITB Berlin

Start with VisitScotland’s Trade Event Listing.

What you can expect:

  • Opportunity to target buyers for appointments. Start early before all operators booked up!
  • 10 – 15 min appointments with different operators.
  • Often there are step by step webinars to take you through the event process. 
  • Events will cost different amounts. Check out early bird booking rates; regional partnership opportunities or grants available.

At these larger events buyers may be meeting with up to 100 suppliers, so essential to keep your chat brief, snappy and inspirational. Whether online or in person events, preparation is required to fix appointments and follow up afterwards. 

Familiarisation Trips:

The best way to showcase your product is by doing it in person, accommodation, experience, activity, attraction, food and drink. You can make the most of the opportunity by delivering a lovely experience, making sure the right people are there to welcome them and introduce them to your offering.

Edinburgh, VisitScotland and VisitBritain may co-ordinate familiarisation (fam) trips and you can also organise your own perhaps in association with a transport carrier like Scotrail or First Buses or an airline.

There are online opportunities also for ”virtual fam trips” and product presentations.

For up-to-date listings of opportunities, consult your industry relations manager at VisitScotland.
Details for Edinburgh businesses on www.visitscotland.org.

Sales Calls:

Once you have your sales resource “good to go” start local with a friendly face. Meet with one of the local DMCs in Edinburgh.  Why not join forces with another supplier and do a joint visit & product presentation!

Trade Associations:

Don’t stand alone – be part of the bigger picture…

There are a few other key associations to be aware of or join. These are all membership organisations where in addition to the opportunity to garner marketing intelligence and learn from others the membership includes potential travel trade clients – DMCs, tour operators, wholesalers and more. This creates a ready platform for workshops, familiarisation trips and onward connections & relationships.    

UKinbound – UK Tourism Association representing the interests of the inbound tourism market

ETOA – European Tour Operator Association

CTA – Coach Tourism Association

SITE – Scotland – Society for the Incentive Travel Executives

SDMA – Scottish Destination Management Association with local Scottish tour operator members

**You can test out a product (tour, offer, package, theme etc.) with an operator or a few.

Step Four – Build the B2B relationships

  • Good business relationships are key, get to know each other, build relationships. You want to focus on building a long term relationship and trust.
  • Establish a key account strategy and a database. 
  • Keep them informed of news and changes to your product – like opening times or events.