Today, across the leisure industry, business owners can no longer ignore the need for a solid distribution strategy. As we all know, most travelers prefer to research and book experiences through the internet. This means that if your company doesn’t have a strong online presence, you’re not part of the consideration.
As we will discuss in the following paragraphs, online travel agencies (OTAs) are the best sales channels if you want to increase your visibility. Among them, two of the most prominent players are Viator and GetYourGuide. But which one is better suited to meet your needs and take your business to the next level? In this article, I’ll give you detailed information about their pros and cons so you can have full knowledge of the facts when deciding which one to choose. Sounds promising, right? Then let’s jump right into it!
Online shopping in the post-Covid era
Over the last couple of years, there has been a noticeable shift in consumer buying behavior. The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the paradigm shift from offline to online, and there’s no going back. According to a McKinsey research study, over 60% of consumers worldwide have changed their preferences in favor of online purchases. And as the demand for leisure experiences bounces back, businesses have to rise to the challenge of making themselves heard in a noisy marketplace.
Purchase habits aren’t the only thing that has changed in recent years: nowadays, customers have significantly higher expectations regarding their buying experience. Even when they book a tour from a small operator, they expect the process to be as painless as buying a ticket from a big OTA. This scenario caught off guard many actors in the leisure industry. They’re unprepared to satisfy the new tech-savvy customers and struggle to catch up with more attuned competitors.
A successful business needs to optimize those distribution channels that bring customers at the lowest cost and provide the highest revenue and profit. By “distribution channels,” we refer to a network of intermediary businesses that display, promote, and sell your products and services.
Each distribution channel has its advantages and disadvantages (we’ll talk about that later). So, as a leisure company, you need to leverage each platform’s strengths to impact your bottom line positively. As you can easily imagine, spreading the risk by using a mix of channels is more effective than relying on just one. That being said, intermediaries such as OTAs (like the aforementioned Viator and GetYourGuide) have the power and global presence to impact your business.
What are OTAs – Online Travel Agencies?
OTAs act as an online marketplace, aggregating inventory and then using their marketing muscles to generate website traffic and sales. OTAs as a channel tend to have the highest cost of sales because of their commission rates (usually between 20% and 30%). However, their massive volume of visitors can turn into a significant stream of prospective customers.
There is also a positive “billboard” effect on branding, as your business benefits from being in company with other prominent brands and gains the exposure provided by the millions of users that visit OTAs daily. OTAs offer a valuable service, but it comes at a cost. I’m not only referring to their sales fees but also to the risk of losing the ability to engage directly with a customer. After all, they are the ones in control of the relationship.
If you’re a small activity provider, there is no way to match OTAs’ reach. So, the costs associated with a high sales commission are considered a necessary evil — especially during hard times. After all, the typical buyer’s journey for a “day tour” customer often starts with a search on an OTA website, usually with either Viator or GetYourGuide.
Regiondo, the all-in-one booking solution for tours and activities, boasts a channel manager that integrates seamlessly with 230+ OTAs and resellers. This means you don’t have to manage each OTA listing individually. Also, all bookings are stored in the same centralized directory for easy management.
Viator — founded by Rod Cuthbert in Australia in 1995 — was acquired by the TripAdvisor group in 2014. The acquisition enabled Viator to add considerably more inventory to its listings. As the world’s largest online marketplace for day tours, Viator has over 395,000 bookable experiences across 2,500 destinations worldwide. According to Similarweb (a reputable digital intelligence provider), Viator recorded 19.57 million monthly visits during the first half of 2022. 46.50% of this traffic comes from the United States, where the OTA is listed among the 1,000 most visited websites of the year.
The relationship with TripAdvisor gives Viator a decisive advantage over its main competitors, given the volume of referral traffic mentioned on the review site. In fact, TripAdvisor is the most popular website in the travel industry worldwide, with over 150 million visits (!) each month. Viator has also forged a strong partnership with the two most important travel agencies for lodging reservations, Booking.com and Expedia.
Anybody can add a listing on Viator, from large tour operators to family-run businesses or even a local expert offering a cycling tour of their town or city. To add inventory to Viator, you need to open a TripAdvisor account. Your listing will appear on both portals (plus their smartphone apps), giving you plenty of visibility. Although the listing is free, Viator has a standard commission rate of 20%. There may also be some other incidental charges, for example, a non-refundable fee that suppliers have to pay for submitting each new product. Viator offers its customers a full refund if they cancel at least 24 hours in advance. As a supplier, you can’t impose a more restrictive cancellation policy on Viator customers.
According to Viator, they have more than 3,500 partner websites globally, and among them, you can find some of the most prominent actors in the travel industry. This provides you with an opportunity to extend your reach to 455+ million visitors that will potentially see your product. As with other OTAs, you can’t contact customers for marketing purposes without permission. Any communication must be aimed either at giving the clients the info they need to enjoy their purchase or at answering a complaint.
If you want to create a listing on Viator (or any other OTA), you need to understand which criteria are adopted to rank the offers. The ranking can be affected by your adherence to the product quality standards or by the size of the commission you offer. So, if you don’t have enough margin to pay higher fees, make sure you have an outstanding listing and provide an excellent customer experience.
GetYourGuide (GYG) was established in 2009 and lists over 60,000 tours and activities in over 2,500 destinations across more than 110 countries. Based in Berlin, GYG claims it will find highly relevant experiences for each user. Similarweb reports that GYG receives 9.98 million monthly visits, with a strong presence across all of Europe. Over the years, GetYourGuide has formed partnerships with plenty of airlines, hotel chains, and other key players in the tourism industry. Among them, you can find Accor Hotels, EasyJet, Booking.com, Emirates, and Icelandair.
It’s free to sign up with GYG, but you’ll need to be an experienced supplier and show a professional approach to managing your online presence. GYG sets a commission rate between 20% and 30%. The exact amount depends on multiple elements like where the supplier is based, the type of activities offered, and the volume of bookings. Suppliers can request their payouts monthly, but there is also an option to get paid every two weeks (with a surcharge).
GYG is interested in ensuring suppliers create an impactful description and display of their tour or activity. Requesting customer reviews is also encouraged as they also affect how the algorithm ranks your product. From a brand positioning point of view, GYG seems to be more in tune with sustainable tourism. They proactively promote tours and activities that are responsible and environment-friendly. In addition, their content is available in 14 languages, with product listings optimized for each one of them.
Getting the best of both worlds with Viator and GetYourGuide
When it comes down to it, the most significant differences between the two are the size of the network, the reach they can provide, and the commission rates they charge. As we have seen, both platforms charge suppliers a commission between 20% and 30%.
You’ll want to consider Viator’s enormous reach online, but at the same time, GYG offers a broader selection of different experiences. With the vast inventory on the Viator site, unless you have a product listing that really pops, you may be lost among the competition.
So, when deciding on how both platforms fit and complement your distribution strategy, GYG may be better positioned for targeting the European market, with Viator doing better in North America and the English-speaking areas.
How can I manage multiple sales channels?
Regiondo allows you to automatically list your offers through popular OTAs like Viator and GetYourGuide.
Our goal at Regiondo is to help you maximize reach and reduce the overall admin work involved with managing multiple sales channels. From showing the correct availability on every platform in real time to avoiding double-bookings, we are here to help you perform at your best.
If you’re looking for an all-in-one solution that lets you sell tickets online, manage reservations, and connect with leading OTAs, you’re at the right place. With our software, you’ll get up to 35% more bookings, you’ll significantly lower your cancellation rate, and you’ll be able to communicate with your customers much more efficiently, thanks to the integrated CRM.
For more information, book a free demo with one of our consultants.
Update 6 September 2022: The article has been updated for clarity.