Target the main types of buyer
Before you get started with your inbound marketing activities, it is best to have a plan in place.
You’ve done your research and understand which international markets are best for your business, you have your rates set with the appropriate commission and have prepared your sales collateral. Now it’s time to plan your activities and set your budget.
You will want to include activities to target the main three groups within the travel trade, as well as online travel agents.
Each plays an important part in helping to generate inbound sales and it is important to work with and educate - buyers at all levels of the distribution system.
Inbound tour operators (ITOs)
Introducing your- business to ITOs, developing relationships, being contracted by an ITO and updating ITO partners allows your product to be bookable through inbound channels. Host ITOs on familiarisations, attend workshops to meet with them and conduct individual sales calls.
Meeting overseas wholesalers and hosting them on familiarisations helps build relationships, raises product awareness, and drives interest from wholesalers to build sales demand back through ITOs.
Retail travel agents
Meeting overseas retail travel agents, hosting them on famils and providing agent discounts and training videos will help ensure your front-line sellers overseas are familiar with your product and better equipped to sell it effectively.
Online travel agents (OTAs)
The online space has changed international travel distribution significantly, and many international visitors are researching their travel through OTAs and often booking elements online as well.
To complement your inbound distribution plan, it’s a good idea to also look at opportunities to target some OTAs directly to:
- Build awareness of your product within that market
- Provide an alternative distribution stream
- Test new market interest in your product before investing in traditional distribution partnership
Trade marketing activities
There are a range of specific activities that you should consider including in your plan to target the travel trade. The activities you choose will depend on your target markets, financial budgets and resources in terms of staff and time.
Key activities to include in a trade activity plan are:
Trade Shows, Workshops & Missions
- These events are usually organised by Destination NSW, Tourism Australia, or the Australian Tourism Export Council. They bring Australian- visitor economy businesses together with the international travel trade
- They may be held in Australia or in market overseas
- While the format varies between events, all provide opportunities to meet face to face with qualified buyers. They are a targeted, cost-effective way to connect with the travel trade and other suppliers working in the inbound market.
Key annual events for export ready products to consider include Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE), ATEC Meeting Place, and Destination NSW New Product Workshop, missions to market and trade events.
For more details on trade events visit tradeevents.australia.com
- Independently organised meetings with key ITO or international wholesaler staff to educate them about your product and discuss distribution
- They may be held in Australia, with ITOs or in market overseas
- You may consider conducting your own sales calls pre or post an in market mission
- Joint sales calls with a complementary – business can work well
- Make sure you have a reason to visit – it could be to introduce your business, talk about a new - product or discuss how you can fit into their existing itineraries. ITOs and wholesalers are busy, so you don’t want to waste their time.
Familiarisation Visits or Famils
- These are your opportunity to have the international travel trade and international media experience your product first hand
- Destination NSW coordinate trade and media visits
- Generally support for famils is requested free of charge (FOC), in return for the benefits for your business. If you are unable to provide your services FOC, discuss it with the famil organiser
- Treat a trade famil like a sales presentation – do your research and know who is visiting, be prepared for them on arrival, ask questions, showcase your product and follow up afterwards.
Retail Agent Training
- Retail travel agents are your front-line salespeople, it is important to educate them about your product and how to sell it
- Get involved in the Aussie Specialist Training Program, run by Tourism Australia in conjunction with Destination NSW
- You can upload special offers and a short training video that can be accessed by the qualified agents globally. For details on getting involved in the Aussie Specialist Program.
Online Travel Agents
- Making the most of an OTA partnership involves ensuring you leverage every opportunity to present your product in the best possible way
- Make sure you use market appropriate product descriptions and images and keep your listings up to date
- Talking to your OTA contact to find out exactly what they need from you and ask about opportunities to promote your product or destination through their marketing programs.
- A strong online presence is just as important for the international market as it is for the domestic market. While international visitors are more likely to use a travel agent to book their trip, they are using the internet more than ever to research and plan
- Your website should be up to date, with a modern design, good quality images and contact details
- Keep your Australian Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW) listing up to date with fresh images, videos, product descriptions and rates
- Claim your business listing on sites such as TripAdvisor and Google My Business. Make the time to respond professionally to both positive and negative reviews
- Travel blogs and social media can also be used by international visitors and trade partners when planning, researching, and booking travel. Consider how you can include these in your international marketing activities.
Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC)
- ATEC is the peak industry-association for the Australian inbound tourism sector. They have members from across Australia, including inbound tour operators, online distributors and - visitor economy businesses.
- Their services include business to business opportunities, industry advocacy and development, education and business capacity building, local and national networking events, and conferences.
- You may want to consider membership and attendance at ATEC workshops such as their annual Meeting Place event.
Managing trade sales activity
It is important to consider how your business will manage your international marketing. Think about who will be responsible for leading your strategy and who else you need to involve, consider accounts, front of house staff and your online marketing teams, they will all have a role in your international strategy.
While your business should set and lead the overall trade strategy, handle sales contracts, bookings, and trade famils, there are opportunities to work in partnership to share some of the legwork and maximise your exposure.
Work with your Destination Network or Local Tourism Association (LTA)
If you are a regional NSW visitor economy business, discuss opportunities to align your activities with your local and regional network.
Collaborate with complementary export ready businesses
Form your own bundle or marketing co-operative – sometimes two businesses will share a stand at a trade event or conduct joint sales calls. It can often make it easier to secure an appointment with a busy ITO or wholesaler.
Work with Destination NSW
There are opportunities to get involved with the activities of Destination NSW including trade shows, workshops, and missions, online and social media and trade and media famils. An extensive range of resources and research to assist in planning your international marketing activities is also available.
Join a trade marketing co-operative if there’s one in your region
For example, Sydney Melbourne Touring on the South Coast. These co-operative groups may pool resources from their member base to represent the group or collective – experiences (such as a touring route) at trade events domestically and internationally.
Outsource some of the activity to a representation company
There are several companies that offer representation at overseas trade missions and trade events, which can be a more cost-effective solution than sending your own staff. It’s a good idea to set clear expectations around these activities, including feedback, reporting and lead handover, before signing on with a representation company.
Make use of financial assistance for international marketing
Export Marketing Development Grants
As inbound tourism is an export, - visitor economy businesses are eligible to apply for the Australian Government’s financial assistance program for exporters the Export Marketing Development Grant (EMDG).
EMDG is an eligibility-based, demand-driven program. This means all eligible applicants receive a grant from the available funds.
The grant amount depends on the:
- number of eligible applications in the round (referred to as demand)
- available program budget shared among all eligible applicants.
Grants are for eligible promotional activities undertaken by small to medium sized exporters.
To find out more go to austrade.gov.au/Australian/Export/Export-Grants