TORONTO — Online booking platform TourRadar wants to work with travel agents.
Up until recently the platform was B2C. But travel advisors “have been approaching us and working with us for years to access that hard to find tour operator,” says TourRadar’s Christian Wolters, CMO and Head of Canada Operations.
“Until now, we have not been able to share our commission with them, hence [the retail travel distribution channel] wasn’t a focus of ours,” says Wolters.
Now, he says, “by providing access [to travel agents] to over 50,000 adventures and 2,500 operators we believe that this relationship will benefit most advisors, the operator and of course the customer.”
Earlier this month TourRadar’s Adventure Together online event featured more than 20 guest speakers talking about ways to reach new customers, and access the lucrative multi-day tour market, for an audience of travel advisors and tour operators.
The online event also launched TourRadar’s Adventure Booking Platform (ABP) category which allows travel advisors to tap into the multi-day tour sector and earn commission.
We wanted to know, what prompted TourRadar’s decision to work with travel agents? What benefits are there for agents to book through the site?
We caught up with Wolters to find out.
Q. For any agents who might be unfamiliar with TourRadar, can you give a quick overview?
Wolters: “TourRadar is the world’s first Adventure Booking Platform, where you can effortlessly book private, group and tailor-made multi-day organized tours – we call them adventures – in 160+ countries around the world.
“Traditionally, booking an organized tour was a tedious and time-consuming process. Where will I stay? What activities will I do? What meals am I going to have? What operator can I trust? TourRadar makes booking multi-day adventures seamless and timely, partnering with 2,500+ operators to offer more than 50,000+ adventures in 160+ countries. Founded in 2010, TourRadar was the first to transition multi-day tours to an online marketplace, making them the leader in the industry. In 2021, TourRadar further revolutionized the industry by introducing the Adventure Booking Platform, connecting travellers, operators, and travel agents to organized Adventures through one platform.
Q. TourRadar got its start as an exclusively B2C platform, and that raised the ire of some in the retail travel trade. Now TourRadar wants to work with travel agents, which is great news. What prompted that decision? Why does TourRadar want to work with travel agents?
Wolters: “While TourRadar has built a successful B2C marketplace, we believe that there will always be customers that prefer to work with travel agents as the relationship and service advisors provide them is irreplaceable. However we know that agents have limited access to a large variety of adventures and the technology out there is not always easy to use for them.
“That’s why travel advisors have been approaching us and working with us for years to access that hard to find tour operator.
“Until now, we have not been able to share our commission with them, hence it wasn’t a focus of ours. By providing access to over 50,000 adventures and 2,500 operators we believe that this relationship will benefit most advisors, the operator and of course the customer.”
Q. What are the advantages for a travel agent who wants to use and book through the TourRadar platform vs. the agent just booking directly with the tour operator?
Wolters: “Simplicity! Create an account for free. Get access to your own TourRadar Agent Dashboard. All without any fees.
“We know from advisors the two key areas that currently cause pain: searching for the right product and efficiently and securely paying for it. Both areas we have nailed in the last 6 years and advisors can now conveniently access this and earn their commission through us.
“The inventory of 50,000+ adventures from 2,500+ operators with a diverse range of adventure styles and destinations is unique out there and will speed up any advisors day to day work. Easy, frictionless online payments without requiring to have separate agreements with each operator is naturally another key advantage.
“However, if you have pre arranged agreements you can continue to benefit from them while offering a larger breadth and depth of product through TourRadar. Finally, TourRadar provides global agent support and training opportunities.”
Q. If a travel agent books a trip for a client using TourRadar, does he / she get the exact same commission as booking with the tour op?
Wolters: “If you sign up as a travel agent you can earn up to 8% on every booking you place. That’s an average commission of US$400 on a booking of US$5000. If you join before Nov 30, you will earn +1% extra commission on every booking you make through 2021.
“Some advisors will naturally have better terms in place with some of the big operators. There are ways you can use TourRadar’s platform and still utilize your pre-arranged agreements and commissions. We recommend contacting our Solutions Team for help with any questions you may have on this.”
Q. Do agents register with TourRadar, i.e. how do they get the process started?
Wolters: “Simply by visiting tourradar.com/agents and signing up. The extra % commission will be applied automatically.”
Q. The pandemic has been extremely difficult for the entire travel industry. What was the impact on TourRadar and what is the company’s outlook on growth now that we seem to be coming out of the pandemic?
Wolters: “The pandemic had a huge impact on TourRadar as it did the entire Adventure and travel industry.
“After March 2020 we, like everyone, had to deal with cancellations on top of evaporating sales. We are proud to say we not only survived but thrived, becoming more efficient, more profitable and better positioned to tackle the resurgence of travellers with the expansion into adventure distribution.
“By opening up our inventory to travel agents we effectively believe we can work together to achieve mutual success.”
Q. Adventure travel still seems like one of the great untapped niches in the Canadian travel industry. It sells well, but it feels like there’s a lot more potential for growth there. Is it a misunderstood niche? And what demographics do you see on adventure travel trips and how can that grow in the years ahead?
Wolters: “We have recategorized Adventure to be anything that was formerly described as a multi-day tour. This could be a wine tour in Tuscany, a coach tour through Europe, an active hiking trip in Nepal, a river cruise, a cultural trip in Vietnam or even an Antarctic cruise.
“We felt it was the time to call everything that describes a collection of experiences to be an Adventure. Organized adventures can be experienced by 18 to, well, anyone who is fit and willing to travel. Not to mention families with kids younger than 18.
“It is important to note that in North America our biggest demographic is 60+ so this category is definitely not exclusive to younger generations. The growth potential will be explosive as the pandemic has made us all want a little (or a lot) more adventure in our lives.”