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Visit Scotland | Alba

Is your business travel trade ready?

Before investing time and money in targeting specific markets, you need to make sure your tourism product or service is trade ready.

This page serves as a guide. You can use it to identify whether you have the right policies and processes in place to work with and sell through an intermediary channel. This will enable you to attract the right type of visitor at the right time for your business.

Becoming trade ready is a process that takes time and commitment. You may need to refine your product or experience before approaching this route to market. 

1. Test to see if you're trade-ready

Start by asking yourself the following key questions.

If you can answer "yes" to some or even all these questions, you are on your way to becoming trade ready.

If not, we encourage you to read on for information on how to prepare for working with the trade.

  • do you understand the travel distribution system?
  • did you research the different visitor markets to establish where your product or experience might be best placed?
  • have you considered the travel styles, language, and cultural differences of your visitors?

  • do you understand the needs of those from different visitor markets?

  • do you understand the concept of commissions and net rates?
  • are you able to flexibly work within tour operators’ booking and cancellation policies?
  • are you able to confirm and guarantee booking via travel trade in a timely manner (usually within 24 hours)?
  • are you able to accept vouchers on arrival supplied by the travel trade to their customers (known as "free sale")?
  • do you understand online distribution channels?
  • do you have booking mechanisms in place?
  • do you have an active Quality Assurance program?
  • do you have marketing (promotional) material in foreign languages?
  • are you prepared to work cooperatively with other businesses and organisations in the region?

2. How do I price my products for travel distributors?

To work with travel distributors, you need to factor commissions into your pricing. The commission is the fee paid to the tour operator, wholesaler, online, or retail travel agent to market, distribute, and sell your product. Note that it is only paid once a sale has been made.

Depending on the travel distribution route you select, the commission rate could vary from 10% - 30%. It should be incorporated into the pricing model for your business.

Statistics on a tablet

The difference between net and gross rates

By providing the correct figures to each level of the distribution system, you can protect your rates. But it’s important you understand the difference between net and gross (retail) rates first.

Rates should be clearly marked as either gross (retail) or net. The gross or retail rate of a product is the amount that the consumer pays and should be consistent across all distribution channels.

For example, a customer should pay the same price if they book direct, via an international travel agent or via the internet.

You can calculate your gross rate by taking your net rate and adding the commission.

It's important to keep in mind that consumers will not buy a product from an intermediary if they know they can buy it directly from you at a reduced price.

And intermediaries will only use their distribution networks to promote your product if they know the consumer is going to buy from them.

3. How do I pitch my product to travel distributors?

An effective pitch is about starting an engaging conversation. It should be a short, concise summary of your product.

Try to explain how your business or product will benefit the distributors’ clients. Also try to appeal to their interests and inspire them to choose your business over your competitors.

Two people having a business meeting at VisitScotland Connect

Tips for presenting your business / product

  • Mind your audience

    Tailor your pitch to your listener and don’t assume they know about your business/product. Some travel distributors might only have limited knowledge of Scotland.

  • Begin with a general overview

    Provide a brief overview of your business. Don’t forget to mention your location and any points of interest in close proximity.

    For example, what's the distance to a key airport, a particular visitor attraction, and so on.

  • Give specifics

    Provide an overview of your bookable product and include any trade-exclusive experiences.

    For example, do you have any add-ons you can offer?

  • Show that you're unique

    Highlight your unique selling points, the quality of your product, and any sustainable initiatives you might have.

    For example, do you have something that makes you stand out from your competitors? Are you part of our Quality Assurance scheme? Or are you part of a sustainable tourism scheme such as Green Tourism, Green Key, Earth Check, or other?

  • Mention delivery and pricing

    Outline how your product is delivered and priced.

    For example, are you already working with the travel trade or destination management companies?

  • Give your pitch a nice bow

    Summarise the benefits of working with you (based on what you now know about your listener’s needs).

  • Don’t be shy to ask questions

    Don't fall for the trap that your intermediary might be telling you everything you need to know. Be inquisitive and follow-up with tailored information to make yourself stand out.

    For example, when the intermediary is looking at contracting, ask some of the following questions:

    • what does their distribution network look like?
    • who are they selling to?
    • what are their conditions of contracting?

    If this leads to a conversation in which you can show how you can fulfill the intermediaries needs, you might be one step closer to sealing the deal.

4. Benefits of working with the travel trade

Have you considered working together with other tourism businesses?

Joining forces to promote a destination or a newly developed product can be hugely beneficial to you and the travel trade.



  • shared costs
  • greater impact and profile
  • increased activity and capability
  • more attractive to business-to-business intermediaries
  • improved quality through best practice sharing
  • reason to stay longer in business
  • time and resource
  • clear strategy and action plan needed
  • need for trust (others are partners not competitors)
  • need to demontrate a return on investment
  • need to do complementary activities
  • regulations if selling to consumers

5. How to build relationships with the trade

Once a business relationship has been established, it is imperative you maximise the benefits. The volume of business might initially be on the low side, but this could increase significantly over time.

The following are some helpful tips for you to maximise your benefits from working with the travel trade:

  • provide trade partners with first-hand knowledge of your offering by inviting them to visit your property
  • stay in touch after the sale and provide regular product updates
  • keep pricing confidential between your business and trade operator
  • be professional at all times
  • follow up with tailored information if previously agreed

Please be mindful of the fact that it can take a number of years to get into holiday programmes with some of the intermediaries.

But when you do, their distribution networks can be impressive and accelerate your business growth.

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