As a travel activity booking marketplace, you ought to target tour & activity vendors, i.e. tour operators, activity hosts, & guides before travelers. In fact, to increase their reach, these hosts & operators continuously look for different distribution channels. And mostly, they rely on OTAs (online travel agencies) or online travel booking marketplaces.
According to a Trekksoft study, on an average, activity hosts receive 20% more bookings after partnering with OTAs. Also, about 22% of them say that OTAs or travel booking marketplaces bring them more than half of their bookings. In urban areas, these numbers are even bigger.
It is clear that there are loads of opportunities for OTAs in the market. But there’s intense competition that must be dealt with. To help you on the matter, here are some data-backed insights & executable tips that will help you become the favorite of activity hosts & tour guides.
The chart above pretty much solves the riddle as to what activity hosts & tour guides expect from a travel booking marketplace. While all the above-listed factors are important, it is clear that first two are simply the must-haves for your OTA.
It makes perfect sense that the volume of bookings is the top most factor. To achieve that you need to ensure certain features & capabilities on your travel booking website. These are:
And as for the credibility, you need to ensure that you have transparent pricing & partnership policies. Besides that, over time, the above-listed features to boost the volume of bookings will also help build credibility for your website.
A recent Trekksoft survey found that about 80% activity hosts/guides/tour operators say that they are willing to partner with OTAs only if they charge commission rates less than 15%. Usually, a 15% to 20% commission charges are considered fair in the ecommerce sector; so it’s not much that activity hosts are asking.
That said, it may not be feasible for a growing business to manage with only that much commission. In that case, varying commission rates can provide a viable solution. Here are some ideas in that regard:
It is also worth noting that, if your booking marketplace is able to deliver enough volume of bookings to the hosts, they will stick with you, since about 71% hosts believe that commission rates are fair based on the delivered results; in urban market, 89% vendors think so.
The above pie-chart gives us a clear picture on the common challenges faced by travel activity vendors when partnering with booking marketplaces. Let’s address them all, one by one.
Loss of traffic
The first (and apparently the biggest) concern that activity hosts have is that partnering with OTAs results in loss in traffic on their own sites. A quick fix to this is to add a fallback link for the vendor website on the pages where their activities are listed on your marketplace.
Also, if we look closely, it shouldn’t be that big of an issue for two reasons:
1) Only a small segment of activity hosts have their own website
2) Hosts/guides get much better market exposure through marketplace listing.
More work; fewer bookings & High commission charges
We have already addressed these challenges in the first two section of the post.
Maintaining Live Inventory & Lack of Appropriate Categories
Solution to such operational issues is to simply build your travel activity booking marketplace on a state-of-art platform (such as FunAway, offered by FATbit), which offers features & functionalities to proactively address these challenges.
‘Follow in the footsteps of the successful ones’ – a rule of thumb applicable across all walks of life, and extensively used in the business world. Therefore, it is always a good idea to look up to the market leaders (even competitors) for some ideas & inspirations.
Viator, GetYourGuide, & Expedia are clearly the worldwide leaders. Other than these, some other emerging OTAs that operate in specific markets like Peek & Vayable are also worth considering.
Check out the features they offer to the hosts. From sign up to listing tours/activities and payment processing, analyze everything to see what makes them popular among hosts & guides. Stay updated on the upgrades they make in their system, find out how they devise their promotional offers, study their software suite for vendors, follow them on blog & social networks, and so on.
All this is not about copying what they are doing, but to get inspired, brainstorm & implement similar cutting-edge ideas that can help you get ahead in the race.
Besides the mass of activity hosts & tour guides looking for more distribution channels to grow their business, there’s also a huge untapped inventory for OTAs to thrive upon, as only 40% of travel activity hosts & tour guides worldwide are listed online.
To capitalize on these opportunities, you need to provide an online platform that not only offers services better than others but also motivates activity hosts to take all the advantages they can get by partnering with an online booking marketplace.
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