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Research Proves Your Website is Your Best Online Sales Channel

In 2011 PhoCusWright published ground breaking research about the tours and activities segment, primarily focused on the U.S. market.  In 2013, PhoCusWright published a follow up report focusing on the European market.  Rezgo is proud to have been the only tour operator software company to sponsor both reports.  As a technology company, we know that competitors often find creative ways to manipulate statistics in order to promote their systems.  We chose to sponsor high quality third party research because we were confident that the results would benefit the entire industry and not just Rezgo or our customers.  Both research studies provided some important insights that are useful for you to know as a tour or activity operator.

1. Off-line direct is majority of sales – Across Europe's 5 top markets, 55% of total revenues are generated from off-line direct sales.  That means that more than half of customers are booking directly with tour and activity operators either in person or over the phone.  Being able to maintain real-time inventory counts across both your off-line and online channels is critical to make sure that everyone is working with the same numbers and not overbooking.

2. Agents and concierges are still important – 22% of bookings and revenues are being generated by off-line agents, activity desks, and concierges.  Being able to work with local partners is still important.  For many operators, in destination activity desks and tour resellers are critical to getting in front of hotel guests.  This is especially true for markets outside of Europe as well such as Mexico, Hawaii, and the Caribbean.  Providing easy access to live availability for these in-destination sales channels can help reduce overbooking and headaches for in-destination customers.  With Rezgo, for example, you can create referral codes for your partners so it's easy to track their sales in the system.  For those partners that are more technically savvy, you can provide them with a booking agent login so they can check availability and add bookings directly into your Rezgo account.  This will save you time and resources with managing partner bookings.

3. Online sales channels are growing – 23% (almost 1 in 4) bookings is generated through online channels.  Over a third of online channel sales are made through the operator's own website.  This means that having a professional and secure online booking engine is critical to your online success.  Even though the study showed at only about 12% of the online channel bookings are made via mobile, it also indicated that the mobile channel is growing and is expected to contribute to a larger portion of online sales.

4. Online distribution is small and manual – Even though the report showed that over 80% of providers distribute through online retailers like Viator, GetYourGuide, and others, less than 17% of overall revenues are generated via these distribution channels.  What's equally important is that the majority of these relationships are free sale, meaning that there is no live availability checking.  The primary management tool for these distributor bookings is email.  Although these distributed bookings do not represent a large number of bookings or revenues, most providers expect these revenues to grow as technology improves.  As a Rezgo member, you can already manage these distributor sales by using the email import feature.  Booking notifications from third parties like Expedia and Orbitz can be emailed directly to you Rezgo account and imported into your booking and customer databases.  Direct real-time availability is already in place with Viator meaning that sales from the Viator website and their partners are checked against your live availability and the bookings are captured in real-time.  Both the email and XML connect features will help you to save time and resources in managing these third party bookings.

For more details, the 2011 When They Get There and Why They Go Report Executive Summary is available for your review.  The European study can be purchased from the PhoCusWright website.

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Written by

Stephen is the CEO and Co-Founder of Rezgo. He has been working as a travel & tourism technology consultant since 1995. Stephen is active in fostering tourism technology and is a Past Chair of the OpenTravel Alliance. He is also a regular contributor for Tnooz, a leading travel technology media site, and speaks regularly at conferences around the Globe on travel & tourism technology, messaging standards, and industry trends.

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