During the pandemic, members of the travel industry made a conscious decision to put minds and hearts together to find ways to stay afloat and keep moving.

At Wetu, we’ve long held the view that as members of one tribe, there’s power in our interconnected businesses. Collaborations can be instrumental in tackling the new pent-up demand, helping both individual brands and the industry thrive, while making #TourismStrong.

Less competition, more collaboration

Traditionally the focus has been on competition to win business, beating that solitary drum. But travel brands could instead create a win-win situation by pooling resources and working together, promoting travel and tourism in the destinations they sell.

Blending knowledge, experiences, and sometimes budgets, can result in outcomes that far exceed the results from working in silos. – Break the Ice Media

Where there’s common ground (and objectives), there’s the basis for a collaborative framework. Break the Ice Media talks about an alliance of tour operators, destinations, attractions and service providers that set competition aside, and developed a model of selling to and buying from one another, incorporating “discounts and rebate agreements with hotels, insurance providers, cruise lines and more” to the financial benefit of all.

Why collaborate?

Variety is the spice of life, and in travel, it empowers the end-user with choices to curate a meaningful experience – of what to do, where to eat, party, visit, relax, stay, and enjoy unique perspectives of a destination. It’s the antithesis of a generic experience.

By collaborating to enrich a final offering with many relevant choices, this encourages travellers to extend their trips and spend more. The collaboration becomes a joint effort to create the best possible experience for them, rather than just focusing on a series of individual sales.

Finally, there’s credibility. Travellers want to deal with well-connected brands they can trust to be knowledgeable about the destination or experience they’re interested in.

From the travel brand’s perspective, there are big benefits to a good collab:

  • Increased exposure – for each brand involved, there are opportunities to access bigger markets and pitch for more sales.
  • Bigger marketing spend – conduct overarching, joint marketing campaigns, or benefit from being included in your partners’ campaigns, with more advertising, trade show visits and exhibits to promote your brand.
  • Business referrals – partners can confidently refer enquiries for experiences they have no expertise in but still keep these sales ‘in the family’, so to speak.
  • Better information flow – it’s always important for trade partners to keep each other in the loop with changes in products and destinations, especially during this still-uncertain post-pandemic period.

A win-win for travel

A collaboration can serve to complement basic hospitality offerings or tour products, as well as boost visitor numbers to your destination. Approach brands to discuss how you can support each other. These may include DMOs, local service providers and speciality brands. Whether you operate tours, activities or manage a property, venue or attraction, reach out to similar businesses in your destination or elsewhere, wherever you identify common objectives.

  • Collaborate on expertise

Tour operators selling the same destination might specialise in different types of experiences. You can share expertise or refer enquiries, encouraging the traveller to return to your partnership with their next enquiry, knowing they will be assisted.

Alternatively, pool your expertise with operators in other destinations by producing multi-destination tours, enabling you to meet a demand you’d otherwise not be able to meet. Share sales assets by posting itineraries between Wetu accounts – the recipient can then incorporate the itinerary into a new proposal to fit the enquiry.

Operators and agents can share information on preferred supplier products, saving each other the time and effort of sourcing these, while enabling each other to potentially score better deals to pass onto their clients.

  • Collaborate on experiences

Accommodation and activity suppliers can collaborate with DMOs, tour operators, DMCs and travel agents that sell their destination by highlighting the interests their products cater to. Your offering might vary depending on the season, events and festivals, and whatever is happening in your local community – by regularly updating and communicating this information to your partners, it helps them stitch together interesting experiences in various itinerary routings throughout the year.

Properties can refer business to each other, as well as put each other in touch with trusted service providers. Perhaps you know a good cleaning service, linen supplier, etc. to recommend to a partner, or have advice on sustainable practices, which are in high demand at the moment. Also collaborate with local businesses on value-adds like crafts, wellness, entertainment, toiletries etc. that reflect lifestyles in your destination and enrich the guest experience.

  • Collaborate on marketing

Collaborate on a single website to market your partnership of travel brands or have each brand catalogue partner properties, restaurants and attractions together with sample tour itineraries and destination information on their respective websites. Extend your reach even further with joint social media marketing campaigns and share the costs.

Add local content creators and influencers to your collaboration. With their local insights and large following, they can leverage their blog and social media platforms to promote your experiences and lifestyle highlights.

While there is value in the “fly-by” perspective that out-of-town media and influencers provide, cultivate relationships with domestic content creators as well. – Rooted

With the demand for meaningful, authentic experiences, this adds a valuable, personal perspective that trumps the generic ones saturating the online space.

As the saying goes, many hands make light work – in this case, they can also weave a rich blend of interests, product knowledge and expertise into new travel experiences. With shared resources and prospects, a culture of collaboration forms the basis of a mutually beneficial ecosystem bound to drive trade forward.

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