Creating and developing your visitor experience, such as a tour, attraction, or accommodation, can be the fun part of starting a business. What will your rooms look like, where will your tours go and what will your customers experience? Just like the financial side of your business, creating your product requires detailed planning and research.

Understanding your customer

With people sharing their experiences online, consumers are more informed about visitor experiences. Visitors have become more demanding, seeking unique, authentic, and customised experiences.

Before you create your visitor experience, it’ is important to know who you want to target.

Instead of targeting everyone, focus on one target market then drill down further into market segments to find your ideal customer.

The marketplace is comprised of smaller segments that reflect people’s diverse tastes, interests, values and priorities. To find your ideal customer, you will need to look at market segments that are likely to be interested in your product. Make sure you thoroughly research their leisure interests, spending habits and travel patterns. The more research you do, the better you will understand your customer, and the more likely you will be able to tailor your product to meet their needs and make your marketing effective.

Once you have identified your ideal customer, review your product, and assess how well-matched your experience is to their specific needs.

Think about every stage and process of the customer experience from the customer’s perspective.

  • How will they find you?
  • What will be their first impression?
  • How will they book and pay?
  • How much will they spend?
  • Will they tell their friends and book again
  • What will they remember the most from the experience?

Try to find ways to not only meet the needs of your ideal customer but also exceed their expectations.

For example, if you decide that the Australian millennials and generation Z are your ideal customer, you might like to consider the following questions:

  • Do you have a strong online presence? Can you book your experiences online?
  • Can you make your experiences ‘Instagramworthy’? Provide opportunities for your customers to take photos and make them into sharable moments.
  • Are there ways to include local produce in your experience?
  • Are there opportunities for your customers to learn local stories and connect with people?

Domestic Market

For most visitor economy businesses in NSW, visitors from around Australia, known as the domestic market, account for most of their bookings and should be their primary target market. Within the domestic Australian market there are a range of segments with their own preferences, interests, demographics and reasons for travelling. Who does your visitor experience appeal to?

Destination NSW regularly produces profiles on different segments that exist in the NSW visitor economy. Find more information here.

The visitor economy is an ever-changing industry, which is one of the many aspects that make it so rewarding. Strive to keep up-to-date with market trends so you can adapt and evolve. Being adaptable to change can also help you stand out from your competitors.

You will observe travel trends regularly — perhaps you are welcoming more youth travellers or have identified an increase in last-minute mobile bookings.

Ensure you regularly look at the product and experience you offer and see if there are ways to refine it to meet the needs of your current and potential customers.

Today’s travellers are:

  • Using mobile devices to research, book and share
  • Looking to engage and interact with locals and staff
  • Demanding authentic experiences in the destination (local food and wine, Aboriginal experiences, nature trails
  • Seeking service that makes them feel important and valued

Research current consumer trends and, from your customers’ point of view, think about:

  • Does your experience reflect your customers’ values and interests?
  • How easy is your product to book? Do you have an online booking system and work with distribution partners?
  • How can you add some more local flavours to your experience?
  • Is the timing, length and frequency of your tours right?
  • Are your hotel rooms a good fit for the market?
  • Can you offer a more personal, interactive experience?
  • Your social media profile — are you posting regularly and engaging with your customers?
  • Are your marketing materials current with recent images, videos and presents an attractive contemporary design?
  • Is your customer service personal, efficient and engaging?
  • Do your marketing materials meet the needs of your ideal customers
  • Your website — is it modern, fresh, mobile friendly and easy to find?

Once you have considered ways to refine your business and customer experience, make a plan and set a timeline for how these will be implemented into your business.

Customer service strategy

The most successful visitor experiences consistently offer outstanding customer service, with the customer at the core of everything they do.

Great customer service does not just happen; it is something that you need to plan. As part of your business plan, it is essential to develop a customer service strategy that defines the standard of service you offer, the quality of staff training you provide and sets the requirements for meeting those standards. A customer service strategy is also important for the development of a strong service culture within your team.

Top tips on creating a Customer Service Strategy:

  • Develop a customer service philosophy and your service values
  • Set your customer service standards and goals
  • Base your goals on customer needs and expectations
  • Hire staff who understand your goals and can deliver on your customer service strategy
  • Determine training required for all staff across the business
  • Include a service strategy at all customer touch points
  • Monitor, measure and assess service standards regularly
  • Recognise and reward staff for good service
  • Collect customer feedback and act on it

Find out more about standing out from the crowd and exceeding expectations in customer service here.


One of the key factors for success in the visitor economy is how you price your product. In the visitor economy, price is often referred to as a rate. To ensure consumers purchase your product and distributors promote it, your rates need to be consistent, accurate and competitive.

Key pricing factors

When determining the rate for your product, you need to consider:

  • Operating costs
  • Profit margin
  • Distribution costs (including commissions)

Operating costs

Operating costs include both fixed costs, such as rent and insurance, and variable costs, such as wages, electricity, marketing, maintenance and repairs. Make sure you include all the costs of running your business.

Profit margin

Your profit margin is the amount that your revenue exceeds your costs. It will vary from business to business. Be realistic when calculating your costs to ensure your pricing is set to achieve a profit.

Distribution network costs (including commissions)

Distribution costs are the costs involved in selling your products through other sales channels such as hotel concierges and travel agents. This allows you to extend the promotion and sale of your visitor experience and increase your visibility. Working with distribution partners incurs other costs, such as commissions.

Before setting your rates you should also consider:

  • Your competitors — what are they charging?
  • Your ideal customers — what are they willing to pay?
  • Seasonal variations — will your rates fluctuate seasonally?
  • Market expectations — is your rate in line with this?

Pricing vocabulary

In the visitor economy, we refer to two different types of rates, the nett rate and the retail rate. Retail rates are also referred to as the gross, sell, rack rate or door rate.

Net Rate = operating costs + your profit margin

The net rate is the absolute minimum you could sell your product for and still make a profit.

Distributors will need to know your net rate in order to add their mark up or commission.

Retail rate = net rate + distribution costs

You provide your retail rate when dealing directly with customers (that is, the general public). This includes featuring it on your website and on any promotional material targeting the customer directly.


Distribution enhances the visibility of your product by using other sales channels to provide more ways for consumers to make a purchase. Working with distribution partners makes it easier for customers to find and book your product.

The travel distribution network consists of retail travel agents, wholesalers and inbound tourism operators (ITOs), and online travel agents (OTAs). Travel distributors can also include your local visitor information centre and booking agents. To work with these partners you will need to pay a commission, which needs to be built into your retail rate. It is important to remember that commission is a cost that you only pay once a sale is made.

To learn more about working with distribution partners, commissions and becoming export ready, review our Inbound Tourism Guide.

Setting up to sell

Once you have set your price, give your business the opportunity to grow by using the right systems to manage and sell your products, both directly and via distribution partners. An online booking system can help you sell your product by providing live availability and prices directly to your customers. It can also distribute your product to online marketplaces, such as online travel agents and visitor information centres. Additionally, online booking systems help you manage your inventory and streamline payments and operations.

There are plenty of different online booking systems out there, such as Rezdy, Respax, Bokun, BookingBoss, SiteMinder and Bookeasy. If you decide to use an online booking system, ensure that you do plenty of research to find the right one to suit your business.

Creating bookable experiences

There are many experiences throughout NSW that offer visitors a walk-in experience, such as galleries, cellar doors, breweries, restaurants, farm gates and visitor attractions.

One way these businesses can grow their appeal and potential revenue is to create a bookable experience — a tour or activity that has a set price and time and is able to be booked and paid for in advance of a customer’s travel.

Creating a bookable experience can:

  • Add value to the visitor experience
  • Attract advance bookings
  • Grow revenue and spend per head
  • Tap into new promotional and sales channels.

Elements of a bookable experience:

  • Typically has a pricing structure
  • Regularly available
  • Offers a consistent customer experience
  • Takes place at a set time, for a set duration.

Tips for creating a bookable experience:

  • Understand your customer and make a connection
  • Build on your strengths. Consider the key strengths of your venue, your grounds and your team?
  • Tell your story, every business has a story behind it and visitors want to engage with an authentic experience. Including elements of this story will help you to connect with your visitors.
  • Consider your opening hours and days of operation. If you’re business isn’t open daily, it may be worthwhile opening exclusively for high value bookable experiences on additional days. This will create more opportunities for visitors to find and book your experience
  • Connect your customers with your expert staff
  • Consider a length of time that would best suit your customers
  • Look for opportunities to share stories
  • Find ways to add sensory experiences, such as smell, touch and taste.
  • Create sharable moments, how can you make your experiences Instaworthy? Consider setting up beautiful moments with brand inclusions that visitors may photograph or create fun moments in your experience they want to capture and share.

Targeting your ideal customers

Create a suite of experiences that are tailored for different markets at different price points.

Travellers today are increasingly seeking out authentic local experiences where they are able to meet the maker, go behind the scenes and immerse themselves into local culture. Some examples of bookable experiences include:

Cellar Door, Brewery or Distillery

  • Behind-the-scenes tour and private tasting experience
  • Meet the Winemaker, Brewer or Distiller
  • A picnic hamper with local produce to enjoy at the property
  • Make or blend your own beverage with the maker.


  • Cheese and wine masterclass with the sommelier
  • Cooking class with the chef
  • Set menu or chef’s table dining experience with local food and wine.

Produce store or market, such as a cheese factory, sweet shop, farmers market

  • Meet the maker or farmer with a tasting and tour
  • Make your own souvenir or creation with the artisan maker.

Visitor attractions

  • Curator-led tour of the exhibition
  • Guided behind the scenes experience
  • Private screenings, tastings, classes or interactions.

Farm gates and agriculture

  • Guided tour of the farm
  • Hosted session to pick and prepare or take home produce
  • Behind the scenes demonstrations, classes and interaction