Developing a travel partner network for your business can help you build great relationships with your community, as well as give you access to a greater potential client base. This can be used to leverage the power of several markets to increase reach and potential revenue.
Of course, doing this requires a great strategy and some careful organization. Here are our tips for building a successful travel partner network for your tourism business.
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Benefits Of Building A Travel Partner Network
We see it often with airlines that offer car rental, hotel bookings, or insurance as add-ons. Various helpful and related travel services can be purchased and paid for on one site.
It makes a great value add for the customer making the booking, and the business involved gets their product in front of a large market they would not have previously had access to.
Good news travels fast in the industry, and your travel partners will refer clients to your business once you have earned their trust. Naturally, you will do the same for them. For example, connect with local restaurants in the area who can recommend your tours to tourists who walk in. Or offer up the details of an airport transfer service to clients who book a trip with your company.
Depending on your type of tourism business, your network doesn’t only need to be other companies with a product that can be added onto your own. You can also form partnerships with travel agents to actively promote and sell your tours.
Who Are Your Ideal Partners
This depends on what type of tourism business you operate and what your objectives are for setting up the partnership.
For example, is your goal to use partners for word of mouth marketing, or would you like to devise package options that incorporate different tour providers? Or perhaps you need to find a travel agent who will promote your tours?
When researching who it is you would like to be involved with, consider whether the businesses are ready, willing and able to take on the responsibility. For example, a brand new company may not have the marketing budget to redesign some of their marketing materials to include your brand mark where it is needed.
Similarly, if you regularly take on groups of a substantial size, would your partners be able to accommodate your group of thirty travelers should you send them onto their guest house or restaurant.
Your travel partner network needs to be a good fit for your business, and have values that align with your own.
How To Build A Successful Network
Once you have decided what your objectives are in terms of the relationship you are hoping to establish with your partners, it is time to set them up. Depending on how connected the relationship is going to be, there are a few factors that you should keep in mind, namely:
- It goes without saying that the relationship should be beneficial for all parties involved.
- Discuss everyone’s roles and responsibilities, and put them all down in writing once agreed upon.
- Degree of success should be measured over time.
- Communication lines should always be kept open.
Make The Agreement Attractive For All Involved
In order for the active participation of all parties within your travel partner network to continue, each must see some direct benefits from the relationship. Have a real conversation about the strategy you are going to use to promote each other and discuss the expectations you all have.
You do not want to end up in a position whereby one business is doing all of the legwork while the other sits back and enjoys the benefits. Without adequate reciprocation in terms of the leads generated, you simply end up marketing a business that is not yours when you could be focusing your attention closer to home.
Offer Real-time Online Booking Availability
This is especially important if you are hoping to partner with travel agents. Because they are the middle point between you and their clients, it helps them to set up and secure bookings quicker if they have access to your own real-time availability.
Say they have clients who are interested in participating in one of your tours. It will take the agent a lot longer to get back to their clients to confirm it if they have to email you for availability and pricing, wait for your response, and then relay information than it would be if they have access to instant bookings and availability calendar.
Earning a name for yourself in the local market is one of the best ways to build a solid travel partner network.
By getting to know your neighbors and earning the trust of other business owners in your city or town, you will soon earn a reputation for your tour or travel product as one of the top things to do there. This will have a knock on effect as travel agents begin to recognize your brand and refer their clients to you.
Overall it is also a drawcard if clients and agents alike can book a tour as well as accommodation at a particular location from one tourism business. Dealing with one point of contact leaves less room for error, and helps to reassure them that should something go wrong, things will be handled in a timely manner.
Connect With A Content Creator
Content creators can be influencers, bloggers, photographers, videographers, etc. Talented creators open up the doors for putting the word out about your business or even exchange their services for quality content for your site.
As an example, you could promote a local photographer’s services to your tour group clients as part of a package deal. In exchange for promoting their services, the person could take some high-quality images for your website, making the exchange beneficial for both of you.
Remember to measure the success of your partnerships by keeping tabs on key metrics such as website visits that have been directed from your partner's site, sales referrals they send through, agent's figures, etc. You want to make sure that your business is benefitting from the relationship.
Naturally, you also want to know that your client’s needs are being met if you are actively promoting a business within your travel partner network. If the results are not quite up to expectations, you need to make a connection elsewhere.
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