Preparing your business for inbound visitors

Looking to raise your profile and compete internationally? Want to bring business in from overseas? Find out how you can prepare your business to attract inbound visitors. 

Getting ready to export

Before stepping into the international market, it is important to ensure that you have a good product-market fit. In some cases, you may need to refine your products and services before beginning marketing to inbound visitors, or you may find they are particularly suited to specific markets or visitor types, or they might be better offered as part of a package.

Knowing how your product or service might work best and for which international markets, is essential (a SWOT analysis can really help you here), but there are also some key questions you can ask to find out whether you’re export ready:Young man holding a tray with a tea set outside a cafe on the sea front

  • Are you established in the domestic market? Very few businesses enter the inbound market without first establishing themselves in the domestic market
  • Do you understand the needs of international markets? Consider the travel styles, motivations, expectations, language and cultural differences of international visitors
  • Do you understand online distribution channels? It’s important to know how to promote and distribute your product online and how this impacts on any other distribution partners you might have. You also need to be aware of User Generated Content travel websites such as TripAdvisor and how these can influence visitors’ product choices
  • Do you have appropriate booking mechanisms in place for international visitors? As a minimum, you should be able to offer same day booking confirmation via email or the internet within three to four hours
  • Are you familiar with the international distribution system? Being familiar with the role of inbound tour operators, travel agents, travel guides and couriers and hotel booking agencies will help you get the most out of your international marketing
  • Do you understand trade pricing requirements? Be prepared to set and guarantee rates up to 18 months ahead to coincide with the travel industry calendar
  • Are you part of a quality assurance programme? Provide consistent levels of service, quality products and reliable operating schedules to adhere to consumer protection laws
  • Are you prepared to work with partners? If you work cooperatively with other local businesses to provide an enhanced visitor experience, you can stand a better chance of attracting overseas travellers

Putting in the groundwork in all these areas will set you on your way, so you can start looking at how to best market your business internationally.

Preparing your business

Before you can market effectively to inbound visitors, you need to do some preparation to ensure the approaches you take will have the best chance of success. Researching and planning carefully will help you get your business ready.

Young woman in a black apron standing behind the counter of a cafe with pastries and coffee cups on the counter

  • Research your international markets. Determine which markets are most suitable for your product by using our market selector tool as well as our market and trade profiles which provide a raft of information and advice on specific markets
  • Know who the competition is. Once you know which markets you’re going to target, take time to find out what your competitors are offering
  • Get connected locally. Contact your national tourist board for information on international marketing activity coordinated in your area, and to find out about your local quality accreditation scheme
  • Develop a marketing plan to promote your business to international visitors effectively through a range of mediums and distribution channels
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