The Best Distribution Channels in Travel and Tourism | Orioly

The Best Distribution Channels in Travel and Tourism

Distribution channels in travel and tourism are the medium tour operators, attractions, travel agencies and other travel companies use to sell their products to their customers.

This article aims to answer the following question:

What are the main types of tourism distribution channels?

Before giving you the answer, you must understand how distribution channels can help you grow your tour company.

Understanding the distribution channels in travel and tourism

The chain of distribution in travel and tourism has grown with the surge of new technologies. Nowadays, distributing brochures to hotels is not enough to stay competitive in the market.

Not only being listed in the right distribution channels will assure better exposure for your tour company, but it will also make it more credible. That is the combination you are looking for to increase your profits.

Basically there are two ways of reaching customers in tourism:

  • Directly – In a travel agency or through a travel agency’s website.
  • Indirectly – Through a partnership with third-party distribution channels.
Distribution channels in travel and tourism infographic

The distribution channels in travel and tourism can also be divided into offline and online channels.

Offline channels are more traditional and most tour operators are familiar with them. I’m talking about hotels, hostels, B&Bs, souvenir stores, restaurants, cafes, visitor information centers, trade shows and local partners.

Social networks, review platforms, mobile location-based services, and online travel agencies are examples of online distribution channels.

Types of distribution channels in travel and tourism infographic

The role of these new technologies in distributing travel products and generating revenue has grown a lot in the past years.

However, the virtual landscape changes fast. For that reason, it’s important to be aware of new opportunities to list your products to remain competitive and successful.

After this brief introduction, time to break down the distribution channels in travel and tourism.

The best distribution channels in travel and tourism

We’re highlighting five distribution channels for tours and trips, where a tour company should be, to stay competitive.

1. Tour company’s website – the number one direct distribution channel in travel and tourism

Distribution channels in travel and tourism your website screenshot

When was the last time you didn’t start planning a trip online? Not for a long time, right? It’s obvious, the internet changed the traveler’s behavior.

The time from finding travel inspiration to packing your bags for a new travel adventure has never been shorter. And travelers love it!

That said, we can guarantee that remarkable tour photos published on your tour company’s website will attract curious eyes. Videos from the trip you share on social media profiles will bring you sales too!

At the same time, you can integrate an online tour booking system to your website, turning it into a direct distribution channel. That way your future customers can easily book a tour with you and you pay no commission for that!

Did you know that in 2019 $755 billion worth of travel was booked online?!

By the end of 2023, travel and tourism revenues are expected to reach this same level again.

Nowadays, travelers start and finish their travel arrangements online. Because of that, it’s so important to maintain an updated and optimized website.

2. Google My Business – a must for a successful tour company

Google my business distribution channels in travel and tourism

Google My Business is one of the most important indirect distribution channel in travel and tourism to sell your trips online.

Most of it is related to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Being listed in Google My Business helps your organic reach on Google search because it improves your SEO ranking.

Another benefit is having your business featured on Google Maps, which includes relevant details, such as opening hours, website link, contact number and customer reviews.

If you don’t have a business profile in Google My Business, creating one should be your priority right now. Use this guide to create the perfect listing for your business in Google and other platforms.

3. Hostels & tourist information centers – sell more tours and activities

Tourist information center distribution channels in travel and touris

After checking-in at a hostel, visitors often ask an employee at the check desk for a tour recommendation. Hence, tour and activity operators can benefit from a partnership with their local hostel.

On the other hand, travelers who are not staying at a hostel usually seek information in a tourist information center. So, it would be wise to contact your local tourist information center and see how you can partner with them.

Tour companies usually drop off flyers and brochures to hostels and tourist information centers. And interested travelers will call to set up a reservation with your tour company.

Now you know how important it is to stay in good grace with the front desk and to develop perfect relationships!

4. Review sites – they will make or break your tour business

Review website concept image

Is there a traveler who hasn’t heard about TripAdvisor? I don’t think so.

Depending on the reviews you get, they will either make or break your tour business. All your marketing efforts won’t be able to reverse the negative effect of a couple of negative reviews.

However, not so much effort will be needed to marketing your travel packages, if your tour business has hundreds of positive reviews.

This is because only 14% of consumers trust traditional advertising, while 92% respect reviews on sites such as TripAdvisor.

That makes it a very important distribution channel in travel and tourism. So, you better be good!

5. Online travel agencies – online giants with huge audiences

Person booking flight online concept image

Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) are powerful distribution channels in travel and tourism, boasting millions of users to their websites every month.

OTAs will list your tours and trips on their site and allow their users to book with you.

Usually, this works through a pay-per-click format. But it might worth the money, considering that bookings through those platforms are expected to grow year over year.

Three global OTAs that tour operators should consider partnering with are:

There are also much less known local OTAs. Consider partnering with them, too.


Finally, choosing wisely the right distribution channels in travel and tourism means a strategic advantage for your tour company.

It takes a bit of time to figure out which one works best for your tour business. Anyway, starting from enabling direct online sales through a tour company’s website is always a good practice.

If you liked this article, consider downloading our infographic 5 Channel Ideas to Sell your Tours.

What are the distribution channels you find the most suitable for your tour business?

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