The two main online travel agents selling independent tours and activities are Viator and GetYourGuide. Surprisingly, many of our customers have yet to have heard of them. They are not as dominant in the activity industry as say a booking.com in the hotel business. Nonetheless, they are important and offer your tour business access to an international audience without having to spend any marketing dollars. In this post we compare the two big players, show you how to get set-up with them and analyse the costs involved.
Tour and Activity Online Travel Agents
Viator is the Latin word for ‘traveler’. The San Francisco based online retailer of tours and activities was bought by TripAdvisor in July, 2014. They have a vast resource for researching, finding and booking tours and travel experiences. They work with qualified and pre-screened tour operators all over the world (although this is changing). They have 10 local language websites, 5 fully optimized mobile sites, and more than 3000 affiliate sites including major airlines and hotel sites, online travel agencies and city specific sites. Viator lists 15,000 activity options in 1,000 destinations across more than 150 countries. Viator has some big partners like Air France, InterContinental Hotels Group, Priceline and of course TripAdvisor.
GetYourGuide is also a tour and activity online travel agent or OTA. They provide over 20,000 tours and activities in over 1,940 destinations across more than 110 countries. Based in Berlin, GetYourGuide claims to get its travelers the best deals on any activity. Some of their most prominent partners of the company are Emirates, Hotels.com, hotel.info, airberlin holidays, Opodo, Thomas Cook and Lufthansa Holidays.
Advantages of using Viator and GetYourGuide
Greater visibility and reach among customers
Viator has a network of 340 million monthly travel planners (including TripAdvisor visitors) and 3,000 global affiliate partner websites including major online travel agencies, airlines, and hotel groups. Viator also includes popular travel agent platforms such as ARC Marketplace, which reaches 175,000 travel agents around the world. This huge network offers greater visibility and reach of suppliers among millions of customers. Viator has their website available in 9 languages which attracts a global audience. Apart from this Viator also runs its global advertising program on Google, Bing, Yahoo and Facebook.
Similarly, GetYourGuide promises more sales and bookings for its suppliers. They have their network on online platforms, partner websites, GYG mobile apps and other distribution channels that increases the exposure of suppliers’ products to get them more sales. Through white label solutions, widgets, links, banners, XML-integrations, Pre-trip email integrations, and many other methods, partner network of GetYourGuide promotes the products of its suppliers to increase sales.
TripAdvisor’s acquisition of Viator, gives it a strong advantage in terms of eyeballs and what it known as referral traffic. Prior, to the acquisition both GetYourGuide and Viator had “book now” buttons on their suppliers’ TripAdvisor listings that when clicked redirected to the relevant Viator or GetYourGuide page. After the acquisition, TripAdvisor cancelled the partnership with GetYourGuide.
An Important Note: Viator’s and GetYourGuide’s Traffic Stats
In terms of traffic Viator is still the 500 lb Gorilla. It is ranked in the top 10,000 websites in the world for web traffic, with an estimated 4m visits per month. Getyourguide by comparison is lagging substantially with less than 20% of Viator’s traffic at 650k visits per month.
Viator’s traffic is skewed towards the US with 45% of its traffic coming from there, its next biggest territory is the UK with 8%, followed by Spain with just under 5%. In contrast, Getyourguide gets just 18% of its traffic from the US, with Germany and the UK providing 8-9% each.
Disadvantages of Viator and GetYourGuide
It is free to use both these services and they do possess huge web traffic. However, there is a substantial commission involved, particularly if you start to rely on them for most of your bookings . Both companies charge a commission from the tour operators when a sale is made at their end. Viator has a standard commission rate of approximately 20% of the advertised rate. In addition, you’re required to provide them with a retail price as good as anywhere else, i.e. they don’t want you undercutting them on your website.
GetYourGuide isn’t as clear cut and sets a commission rate for their suppliers that is based on the region of the supplier, and type of activities offered by them. The commission rate includes all the costs from credit card fees to bank transactions and promotion of your tours through its distribution partners. The account manager of the supplier sets the commission rate. It is our understanding that it is in the range of 20-30%, with higher volume suppliers receiving lower commission rates.
Sometimes the cancellation policy can really put operators in a tough spot. While Viator maintains a 2 days cancellation policy, GetYourGuide maintains a 3 days cancellation policy. The policy states that if a customer cancels a trip within 2-3 calendar days before the reserved date, a full refund needs to be made.
How to get signed up
In both cases, sign up is free. Supplier’s signup process for both Viator and GetYourGuide are quite simple, but you’ll have to do some searching to get where you want to get at first.
On the homepage of viator, all the way at the bottom, you’ll see a bunch of links. One of them under the heading of “partnership” is “supplier signup”. This will take you to the sign up page for suppliers. After clicking on the sign up button, an application form will pop up after which you’ll be presented with an agreement. When a supplier accepts the agreement, you’ll receive a login id and password for the extranet. This is the home account for the suppliers. They can add, edit products, see bookings, manage customers and do a lot more through this platform.
Similarly, on the home page of getyourguide, on scrolling down, you can click “supplier administration”. This takes you to the sign up page for supplier. Here suppliers register by filling a small form giving their contact details. After filling in the form, you’ll get an email asking to complete the registration by clicking on the link and also agreeing to the terms and conditions of the company. After this, your account is ready for use.
Travel and activity sites open a lot of opportunities for local suppliers of tours and activities. They get access to millions of customers which otherwise are difficult to access on your own. They help market your tours and activities and only charge you when they actually deliver you a booking. However, depending on them solely for your bookings can be expensive due to the high commission costs, they also push up the cost for online advertising on keywords relative to your business and place you side by side with your competitors.