You’ve probably heard it a hundred times before — an online presence is essential for selling your tours and activities nowadays. But it’s one thing to have a website with self-service bookings, and another to be wherever your audience is looking on the internet. With online travel agents (OTAs), you can increase your chances of gaining that much-needed visibility.
Of course, there are tons of options available, especially with new online marketplaces popping up all over the place. That’s why we’ve decided to break down which ones we think you should make part of your OTA marketing strategy— including some of the bigger names, and perhaps a couple you haven’t heard of yet.
Based in Berlin, GetYourGuide is an OTA start-up for travel experiences that quickly became popular in Europe and is now making waves globally. With a focus on mobile bookings and Instagrammable tours and activities, GetYourGuide appeals to millennial travelers who want unforgettable experiences that are share-worthy.
- Reach over 25 million travelers worldwide
- Translate your listing in 14 languages
- Choose when you want to get paid — biweekly or monthly
- Have 24/7 Customer Care support for guests
- Access free analytics and optimization tools
- Promote your eco-certificate from an approved agency
GetYourGuide has made quite the name for itself, which it’s capitalizing on with GetYourGuide Originals. Sitting on mounds of customer data, GetYourGuide has started building its own tours that are what users specifically want. Of course, these tend to get prime real estate on the platform, meaning you have to compete with GetYourGuide Originals on their home turf.
How to join
Similar to most online travel agents, it’s free to sign-up, and GetYourGuide only takes a commission on successful bookings. There is a short application process, and they do ask for your social media profiles and website. While that’s to get to know your business better, it might also be to check whether your tours and activities will align with user expectations.
P.S. Checkfront just released our brand new GetYourGuide integration. You can start taking and managing your GetYourGuide bookings today.
Founded in 1995, Viator quickly grew to be the largest travel booking site for tours and activities, which ultimately landed them a position as a Tripadvisor company. This online marketplace continues to attract millions of travelers worldwide as they work with local operators to provide the best experiences in every destination.
- Reach 455+ million travelers on Viator, Tripadvisor, and 3500+ partner sites
- Get a free Tripadvisor listing as a Viator supplier
- Set pricing, availability, and itineraries directly through your listing
- Access booking reports and customer demographics
- Respond to reviews quickly and easily
- Earn a Badge of Excellence for meeting high quality standards
How to join
Recently founded in 2014, Honk-Kong based Klook is dominating the OTA battlefield as a newcomer. Hosting over 100,000 activities in 270 destinations and counting, it’s evident the company isn’t slowing down anytime soon. First tapping into the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, Klook, short for Keep Looking, is staying true to its name and seeking growth opportunities in western markets.
- Partner with a team of local experts who understand the Asian market
- Access a fast-growing community of solo travelers in Asia
- Reach a wide audience through social media and influencer networks
- Use their free software to enhance operation efficiency
Since Klook focuses on a younger, cost-conscience audience, pricing tends to be relatively low, almost on par with wholesale rates. If you want to stand out on the platform, you may have to put up with insanely discounted offers.
How to join
You can register as a Klook partner by filling out a simple form on their website. Afterward, a Klook representative will get in touch with you to talk more about your business and listing. It’s free to join, and of course, Klook will take a percentage of your bookings.
4. Airbnb Experiences
Already a well-loved travel platform for finding unique lodging abroad, Airbnb launched Experiences in 2016 to help travelers have an authentic local experience to go along with their local stay. Shortly after, Airbnb introduced Adventures to expand into multi-day, group excursions. Similar to the accommodations side, Airbnb Experiences is primarily peer-to-peer, whereas small tour operators host Airbnb Adventures.
- Get your business off the ground among a community of local hosts
- Collect more testimonials with Airbnb’s effective review process
- Manage your tasks, scheduling, payments, and insights
- Keep peace of mind with insurance up to $1 million USD
- Access 24/7 customer support
- Get weekly newsletter, articles, and guidance to help you grow
Currently, there is a one guest minimum on Airbnb Experiences. Since you have to honour all booked reservations, you could end up hosting only one persons, which might not be worth your time and resources. Considering Airbnb doesn’t integrate with reservation systems, this might make it a challenge to fill capacity automatically.
How to join
You don’t need to host guests overnight to host an experience. All you have to do is meet their guidelines and create a unique profile. Just know, Airbnb takes a 20% commission compared to 3% for Airbnb homes.
5. Expedia Local Expert
Expedia Group is the world’s largest travel platform with over 200 travel booking sites in 70 plus countries — including Expedia Local Expert (LX), which launched in 2014. Found under the Things to Do tab on Expedia.com, LX offers a diverse portfolio of local tours and activities to complement an itinerary after booking flights, hotels, and transportation.
- Get visibility on 60+ travel booking sites, including Expedia, Travelocity and AirAsiaGo
- Access a global audience in 30 countries and 17 languages
- Build your offline presence through hotel concierge desks worldwide
- Manage your pricing, availability, and content with Local Expert Partner Central
Although Expedia is one of the biggest names in the travel industry, there are some promising up-and-comer OTAs that are shaking things up. In comparison, Expedia’s site and mobile app are starting to look a little outdated, which might be okay for an older demographic, but not so much if you want to reach the newest wave of travelers.
How to join
To sign-up for Expedia Local Expert, you simply have to fill out a form. Registration is free, and from there, you can create your listings and manage your availability, pricing, content, and more.
Similar to Tripadvisor, Booking Holdings acquired reservation tech for a piece of the tours and activities sector. However, they took a different approach with experiences on the platform. Instead of listing available inventory, Booking.com sends personalized recommendations after travelers book a room, who can use QR codes to access exclusive discounts and offers for things to do wherever they’re staying.
- Appeal to mobile travelers with the highest-rated travel app
- Promote your products on sites like Google, Bing, and Yahoo
- Verify guest reviews are legitimate with a dedicated team
- Capitalize on their data from 1000 website experiments daily
Like most OTAs, Booking.com comes with a commission fee, but they quote you what that is based on your location before you join. Also, it’s speculated that Booking.com shares customer leads with Fareharbor and potentially Musement now, which isn’t exactly fair competition for operators who use other reservation systems and diversify their distribution.
How to join
Right now, there isn’t a designated sign-up page for experience providers. But if you visit the official Booking Attractions page and scroll down to the bottom and click on Attractions help centre, you can send a message to their team and get further instructions.
Based in Texas, OnceThere works directly with Vacation Rental Managers, local tourism bureaus, and hoteliers to distribute bookable gear and activities to travelers currently in-destination — hence the name. Despite being a small team, OnceThere has over 300 markets in North America that promote over 10,000 travel experiences.
- List your products online via DMO sites and hotel apps or on-premise with concierge and visitor agents
For now, OnceThere is only available in certain locations across North America. Hopefully, we’ll see OnceThere expand globally, so activity providers all over the world can get access to this excellent distribution channel.
How to join
You can schedule a free demo with OnceThere, and someone from their team will walk you through onboarding for quick set-up.
New to the crew in 2013, Musement started in Milan and has since expanded globally to cover 80 countries, 450 cities, and 8 languages. Although it’s a smaller, niche marketplace, they’re backed by well-known European VC funds and are quickly growing thanks to their strategic focus on tips from local experts and buying experiences as gifts.
- Reach a fast-growing audience of 50K each month
- Upload your product details in a matter of minutes
- Boost your visibility with the help of SEO experts
- Get a personal account manager for assistance
- Have 24/7 Customer Care for you and your guests
As the name implies, Musement is a go-to place for booking tickets to museums and attractions, so your tours and activities might not be the first thing on someone’s mind when they visit the website. That said, it’s becoming better known for guided tours, local experiences, and even free events, not just in primary markets such as Italy, Spain, France, and the UK, but also the United States.
How to join
It’s free to sign up for Musement, which you can do so by filling out a 60-second form.