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How can the travel trade help your business?

The travel trade is made up of a network of travel distributors (or intermediaries), who are independent businesses from across the globe. They cover all the channels through which a traveller can buy your product, and each play a specific role in the planning and booking cycle of your potential customers. They are especially important if your business would like to target international markets

What can I sell through travel distributors?

You can sell any ‘bookable product’ through a travel distributor, be it leisure, business or special interest based. It could be a hotel room, a self-catering cottage, a private tour, food and drink, an attraction, transport, an activity or a combination of any of these.

Why work with travel distributors?

Many visitors from international markets rely on the trusted advice of local travel advisors, tour operators and specialists when planning and booking their holiday, particularly in long-haul and emerging markets.

Travel distributors work with multiple travel advisors across the globe and allow you to broaden your customer base by reaching far more potential customers than your own website, or marketing budget could deliver. Your product could be included individually or as part of a tailored package in brochures or distributed online to travel agents or direct to consumers.

They can market and sell your product, acting as an extension of your own marketing efforts, providing international exposure for your product.

How does it all work?

The travel distribution system varied from market to market but traditionally includes Destination Management Companies, wholesalers based overseas and international retail travel agents.

The travel distribution system varies from market to market but includes Destination Management Companies (DMCs), wholesalers, tour operators, travel advisors and travel agents.

Many of these distributors take an online approach as well as offering their services from a retail shop front. Both online and travel trade work with the supply chain – working with each other as well as direct to consumers depending on where they sit in the supply chain.

  • Destination Management Companies

    Destination management companies (DMCs), are UK (generally London) or Scottish based one-stop-shops for all travel products, catering to specific or multiple international markets. They do not sell directly to the consumer but work on a business to business basis, i.e. to a travel agent or travel advisor.

    A DMC can provide anything from a single coach to full itinerary planning and product selection. They can also bring accommodation, tours, transport and experiences together to create a full itinerary based on the request of the distributors they work with, or their knowledge of what is popular in a market.

    When a travel agent or travel advisor purchases a product or package of products on behalf of a consumer, the DMC will coordinate the individual reservations, confirmations and payments. Some work with both leisure and business clients.

  • Wholesalers

    Wholesalers are usually located overseas in the market they sell to. Wholesalers link Scottish tourism businesses with travel advisors in their own market and do not sell directly to consumers. 

    The wholesalers provide travel packages comprising two or more products supplied by different operators. Traditionally these packages are published in brochures and are distributed to retail travel agents to sell in their agencies or online. 

    They do not handle flights for their clients, as this is the tour operator or agent that would book these on behalf of the clients, and as a result the clients are protected by the ATOL. Many wholesalers specialise in specific market segments such as adventure or the seniors market. 


  • Online Travel Agents (OTAs)

    OTA specialise in selling products online. International travellers can purchase either a product or an entire holiday package from them online. That means your product offering will have been bundled with other companies’ products by the agent in order to sell a whole holiday experience, and the agency will then coordinate the reservations on the consumers’ behalf.


  • Retail Travel Agents

    Retail travel agents distribute travel products to local consumers in their prominent shop-front locations and websites. 

    Traditionally, retail travel agents are the link between the wholesaler and consumers. Many belong to either a larger chain of travel agencies, or consortiums.

    They will usually sell a bundle of products as a holiday experience, and then coordinate the reservations. In some countries, retail agencies may be operated by travel wholesalers, or may concentrate on particular market segments such as special interest or family travel.


  • MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events)

    The business events sector is one of the highest yielding sectors from international markets. MICE planners organise and manage all aspects of meetings and events including conventions, conferences, incentives, seminars, workshops, symposiums, exhibitions and special events. 

    MICE planners use a wide variety of venues, tour operators, accommodation, team building companies and restaurants. They look for unique travel experiences and require different support and facilities to leisure tourism.

    MICE planners can also known as: Professional Conference Organisers (PCO); Destination Management Companies (DMC); Conference Managers; Event Managers; Incentive Houses; Travel Fulfilment Companies; and Special Project Managers. 


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