The tourism industry, like many, is struggling at the moment under extreme pressure from a number of large companies who are using their dominant market position, as well as their access to cheap capital to crush small operators. We believe this creates an unsustainable industry and creates a worse overall product and experience for customers.
Tripadvisor is one of these companies. They started as a review site, but have now monetised those reviews by ‘forcing’ businesses to list their products on their website, at a 25-30% commission rate (don’t list and you don’t rank). Tripadvisor are not alone with commission rates skyrocketing across the industry, with these larger companies forcing small, independent operators to pay more fees, adopt terms and conditions that don’t suit their products and putting restrictions around special and unique tours and offers that operators wish to create and sell.
These companies are also buying up the booking platforms and software forcing users to connect this way. These companies are sucking the life our of our industry.
To make things worse, as soon as COVID hit a number of these companies made it hard for customers to get refunds, didn’t pay operators money for tours run pre-covid and fired large numbers of their staff (Tripadvisor has made billions of dollars in the last few years and fired 25% of their staff in April 2020 – real classy!).
I know this sounds like a bit of a whinge. Operators though are starting to band together so we can create a better industry. Tourism is about personal connections and great, passionate people creating great, amazing products. We love creating fun products and our customers are amazing. Many think this is now just the price of doing business, but we believe that 25% is an unreasonable tax for what these companies provide and would much rather see that money used to add extra value to our products. We support over 90 different venues and activity providers, pay our guides well so we get the best people to make your day amazing and ensure all our vehicles are safe and our licences and insurances are paid. These companies usually don’t pay tax in Australia and routinely break our consumer protection laws with little or no repercussions
When possible, please book direct with operators and suppliers (activity providers, restaurants and accommodation providers) and bypass large booking websites. You are not getting a good deal, 25-45% of the value of your product disappears as soon as you press pay and communication and service is slowed as there is now a middle-man to stuff things up (and they really do stuff things up a lot). We all love a discount, but when on holidays or celebrating life don’t worry about dollars and just make it epic! If dollars are a concern. contact the operator directly, tell them what you want to do and they will help you out!