Establish Balanced Revenue Streams for a Thriving, Secure Tour Business

Recent events, such as Airbnb’s sudden removal of over 5,000 experiences, have underscored the critical need for tour operators and experience providers to diversify and rethink their revenue streams. This drastic action has left many operators scrambling, highlighting a crucial lesson: relying heavily on a single revenue source can leave your business vulnerable to unexpected changes.

You can download a PDF version of the above here.

The Importance of Balanced Sales Channels

Building your business with a balanced array of sales channels gives you greater control over your company’s trajectory and success. A diversified revenue stream ensures that your business is not overly dependent on any one channel, thereby reducing the risk of financial instability. Here’s why creating balanced revenue streams is vital:

1. Risk Mitigation: If one revenue stream falters, others can help keep your business afloat.

2. Increased Stability: Diverse income sources contribute to a more predictable and stable cash flow.

3. Enhanced Control: With multiple channels, you have more levers to pull to influence business outcomes.

4. Opportunities for Growth: Different channels can provide unique insights and opportunities for expanding your business.

If more than 50% of your bookings come from a single non-direct sales channel, your business becomes particularly susceptible to external shocks that could be financially devastating. To mitigate this risk, it’s essential to balance your revenue streams across three main sales channels: local partners, OTAs, and direct sales.

Local Partners

Developing local partnerships through face-to-face meetings is a highly underutilised method for generating opportunities and sales. Aim to expand your partner list to at least 100, as typically around 20 partners will make purchases from you in any given year. This approach is not only effective but also cost-efficient, as it generates revenue without incurring marketing or OTA fees. The key is to invest your time in nurturing these relationships.

Tips for Growing Local Partnerships:

  • Attend local networking events and tourism industry gatherings.
  • Collaborate with local hotels, restaurants, and attractions to offer package deals.
  • Provide incentives for referrals and repeat business from local partners.

OTAs (Online Travel Agents)

OTAs play a crucial role in a tour operator’s revenue stream, offering extensive reach and customer acquisition capabilities. However, it is essential to balance OTA bookings with direct channels and support them with strong local partnerships. This balance creates a more secure financial foundation for your business.

Strategies for Effective OTA Management:

  • Diversify across multiple OTAs to avoid over-reliance on a single platform.
  • Monitor and optimise your listings regularly to maintain high visibility.
  • Use OTAs to attract new customers, then encourage direct bookings for repeat business.

Direct Sales

Increasing direct sales enhances business security, yet many tour operators struggle with this due to upfront marketing costs. While generating revenue through OTAs and partners, allocate funds to build a marketing budget. Use this budget to hire a marketing professional or agency to grow your direct bookings over the next 12 months, understanding that this process takes time.

Steps to Boost Direct Sales:

  • Invest in a user-friendly, SEO-optimised website with a seamless booking process.
  • Utilise social media, paid advertising and content marketing to engage directly with potential customers.
  • Offer exclusive deals and loyalty programmes to incentivise direct bookings.
  • Gather and showcase positive reviews to build trust and credibility.


Diversifying your revenue streams is not just a strategy for growth but a necessity for survival in today’s volatile market. The sudden removal of experiences by platforms like Airbnb serves as a stark reminder of the vulnerabilities associated with dependence on a single revenue source. By developing local partnerships, effectively managing OTA relationships, and investing in direct sales, tour operators can create a balanced and resilient business model that can withstand market fluctuations and continue to thrive.

Embrace the strategy of diversified revenue streams to secure the future of your business. Start today by evaluating your current sales channels and planning how you can achieve a more balanced, robust financial footing.

Related Posts