(P.S. It works for you 24/7, too!)
Let’s face it. Whatever the season, you’re always trying to increase your bookings, right? Unless you’re an activity or attraction that sells out 100% of your inventory every single day, you have room to improve. When was the last time you evaluated all the strategies and tactics you actively used in your toolkit to help boost your bookings? For most activities and attractions, marketing is the lifeblood that brings you customers and revenue.
But your marketing takes a lot of work. And time. And money. Many factors play a role in people finding your website while they’re planning how to spend their fun free time:
- The quality of and current information on your website
- Special features of your website like language and foreign currency translation
- Special offers you may promote on your website
- Your Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Customer reviews on third-party review sites
- Your social media accounts
- Thinking of ideas for new content to use on your website and social accounts
- Creating (or curating) relevant content for your website and social accounts
- If you’re buying online and/or off-line advertising to drive traffic to your website
- Referral Partners you may have developed
- Word of mouth (and encouraging it)
- And more!
And perhaps because of the pandemic, your marketing staff is now bareboned – perhaps it’s even down to just you doing it now. Even if you have a marketing person or team, marketing is never done. It’s forever an ongoing effort. Don’t you sometimes wish that you had a big sales team, pounding the pavement like other types of businesses outside our industry do?
You could. That’s the magic of a distribution network. It is a sales and marketing force working for you 24/7. And better still, unlike employees who you pay by the hour, you only pay distributors when they sell something for you.
So what IS Distribution and does it work for activity businesses of any size?
Distribution refers to a means of selling tickets or access to your activity, experience, or attraction that uses other partners (“third parties”) to do so. Unlike when you sell tickets yourself – also known as “direct bookings” – distribution is indirect. Most of the time, these partners are selling inventory “on-demand,” in other words, as and when customers are ready to buy . Distribution partners work with things to do businesses of all sizes – some, in fact, are quite niche or boutique. If you were to do just one new, strategic move this year to boost your bookings, it should be to up your distribution game.
Who are and where do I find Distribution partners?
Distribution partners in the Things To Do space really run the gamut:
- OTAs (online travel agencies) – the most well-known and popular kind
- Ticket agents, brokers, or aggregators
- Travel agents
- Hotel Concierges/Activities Desks
- Destination Management Organizations (DMOs)/Visitor’s Bureaus
- Membership clubs
- Group tour operators
- Employee benefit providers
- Pass programs
What’s the value of Distribution?
Unless you’re selling out your experiences 100% of every ticket, every day that you’re open, you are not maximizing your sales. The value of Distribution, in short, is that your distribution partners bring you bookings and sales that you might not otherwise get. How? Because you can find great distribution partners in every corner of the earth, marketing your inventory to people in other countries, who speak other languages, and pay with different currencies. Your distribution partners spend hundreds and millions of dollars marketing to attract visitors in multiple media channels, some of which you could probably never afford (or, even if you could, you could choose to use those dollars elsewhere). Your distribution partners forge longer-lasting relationships with visitors through destination campaigns, loyalty programs, email marketing, remarketing campaigns, splashy social media activities, and more tactics to capture consumer attention that might be too difficult or too expensive for you to tackle alone. Distribution partners have huge staff and resources that enable them to implement expensive technology, create new solutions, and bring forward market innovations, all so they can attract guests for you and your special experience.
Is Distribution too good to be true?
At this point, you may be saying to yourself, “This all sounds too good to be true. There’s got to be a catch.” While there is no catch, Distribution is not free, but how it does work is quite fair. Distribution is a performance-based tactic. This means that you only pay when your distribution partner actually sells your product. Typically, you pay on a percent commission basis.
Your distribution partner also collects the payment from your guest and bears the payment processing fees. When the guest actually experiences your activity or visits your attraction, you submit a remittance back to your distribution partner for the money they collected. They send you the payment minus their agreed upon commission.
Let’s use a round number example: Your activity or admission costs $100 per person and your distribution partner charges 20% commission. That means that when your partner sells one of your tickets, it costs you $20.00. When you send your remittance to your distribution partner, you will receive $80.00 from them for the ticket sold and redeemed by your guest.
Here’s the trick: you need to think about Distribution not as a loss, but as a cost of doing business, just as you think of your staff, your website, your advertising and marketing efforts, and any other way you’re spending money to make money. If you know how much it costs you to break even as a business (revenue in, expenses out), Distribution will be just another simple part of this equation. Remember, unless you’re selling out 100% of the time, you have lost a revenue opportunity. Isn’t some revenue better than no revenue on that unsold ??
Here is where the strategy comes in
To sell through Distribution successfully, you really need to know your business. If your ticket prices aren’t aligned to make you maximum dollars in your market, you may need to adjust them (not for Distribution alone; in general, reviewing your pricing and your profit margins should be a regular best practice for your business). If your margins are too slim that you think you cannot bear a commission, chances are you’re not charging enough to cover all of your other expenses either. Hiring one new part-time worker would cost you more than the commission a distribution partner would be assessing, and they would have already made a sale for you!
Price auditing aside, there are other nuances to running an effective Distribution Strategy such as:
- Knowing existing sources of customers (where in the world they’re coming from – and where they’re not coming from – and how they found you)
- Knowing your sales trends (when are your sales slower and needing some help or, if you sell multiple types of products, which are stars and which are dogs)
- Knowing your value propositions (these are what make your activity or experience unique or better in your market)
These articles from Redeam’s Library may help you better understand how to develop a strong Distribution strategy:
How does Redeam fit into all this?
Redeam is a technology company that has digitally connected ticketing systems and distribution partners so that Things To Do and Experience operators can spend more time working in and on their businesses making money. With Redeam, all your distribution partners are connected into one central place. With one login, you manage them all. This single dashboard also effortlessly allows you submit remittances to your distribution partners so you can get paid. To sum it all up, Redeam makes working with distribution partners super easy!
Interested in learning more about working with Redeam? CONTACT US TODAY!
To view the many distribution partners Redeam works with, visit our Partners page.