Working with the travel trade


The travel trade is a group of intermediaries such as tour operators, wholesalers, travel agents and online travel agents who play a significant role in attracting visitors to White Cliffs Country. Working with these companies is a valuable way to reach larger numbers of potential customers in a global market.

Working with the UK and inbound travel trade requires some specialist industry awareness and an understanding of the different kinds of travel trade activity. It’s important to know how the sector works from a business point of view and how to develop your offer to the standard required. You will need to consider different travel styles, language, cultural and culinary requirements and so on, but working with the travel trade can open up exciting new opportunities and be very good for business.

Learn from the experts

The travel trade and the distribution network are dynamic, with new companies, products and experiences joining all the time, so it's important to understand how it all fits together and worthwhile taking the time to keep abreast of developments.

VisitEngland runs an excellent, free trade education programme, Taking England to the World which is delivered either in person at various locations across the country or via a series of online webinars providing invaluable insights into the travel trade. This programme is designed for businesses from all sectors of the English tourism industry, including accommodation, tours and attractions. While particularly suitable for small and medium enterprises, larger organisations are also welcome to attend.

You will gain access to the Taking England to the World Toolkit which contains essential information on how to get your business travel-trade ready.

Before working with the travel trade

  • Customers: know who your target customers are (the end consumer and the tour operator who will sell on your behalf) and how your product or service can meet their needs better than the competition. Keep abreast of travel trends and review tour operators' websites. 
  • USPs: know your unique selling points inside out and how they set your business apart. Find out about complementary products in the area that you may be able to work with. 
  • Rates: have net and/or commissionable rates as appropriate for different types of traveller for the next 18 months and be ready to explain how your price is good value. Explain how you manage your allocation for individuals and groups. Provide information about payment and cancellation policies.

Create a travel trade sales kit

Before you meet travel trade buyers to pitch your product and discuss sales contracts, it’s important to be prepared with all the materials you will need to support your sales effort. A trade sales kit is a set of promotional material that includes all the information an inbound tour operator (ITO) or wholesaler might need in order to promote your product and to put it onto their system and sell it through their distribution networks. You should include:

  • A brief overview of who you are/your company and what you offer
  • A brief introduction about your product
  • List the unique selling points to help the travel trade understand the experience that visitors will have.
  • List property facilities including dining options, room types and bed configurations
  • Explain how the product can be booked, including phone and email details.

Make sure your sales information is visually appealing and portrays the unique character of your business.

MICE

MICE stands for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions and it represents a lucrative part of the tourism mix internationally. MICE can also be referred to as Business Tourism or Business Events and is a type of tourism where large groups, usually planned well in advance, come together.

Meetings, conferences and exhibitions are self-explanatory, but what is incentive tourism? This is usually undertaken as a type of employee reward by a company or institution for a job well done. Unlike the other types of MICE tourism, incentive tourism is usually conducted purely for entertainment. If you own a venue that could be used to host events such as these, it is worth investigating the options and promoting your business as a MICE venue. 

Travel trade shows

Attending a trade show or two is a great way to make new contacts, network, do some market research (check out the competition) and gather inspiration. The biggest trade shows in the UK are:

  • British Tourism & Travel Show, NEC, Birmingham
  • World Travel Market, ExCel, London
  • Excursions, Twickenham

Trade shows in Europe:

  • ITB, Germany
  • Vakantiebeurs, Netherlands
  • Top Resa, France

See Visit Kent's business website for more information and advice on working with the travel trade. Read 'Who's who in the travel trade' below to learn more about the main players.

More information

  • MICE

    An overview of the venues available for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions in the Dover, Deal and Sandwich area.

    The frontage of a magnificent country house.
  • Who's who in the travel trade

    An overview of the different types of travel trade company - a guide for hospitality businesses in the Dover, Deal and Sandwich area.