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Who needs middlemen distributors? TripAdvisor-backed Viator is hoping that travel agencies come directly to its new platform to find tours and activities to sell to consumers.

On Monday TripAdvisor-owned tours-and-activities marketplace Viator debuted a booking platform for travel agents.

Agencies worldwide can use the English-language platform to book more than 70,000 tours and attractions in thirteen currencies, earning an 8 percent commission.

When an agent makes a purchase for a client through the platform, the resulting documentation makes it clear to the consumer that the experience was booked through Viator. TripAdvisor is not offering a white label option at this time.

Viator is the merchant of record and handles all credit card processing and customer support, including collecting payment from the agent at the time of booking. Any bookings made by an agent earn the agreed-upon commission to the agency or independent agent in the month following travel.

Host agencies and independent agents must register on the platform and be approved. The process is free.

Viator’s terms say it offers a “low-price guarantee.” If the agent or consumer finds a lower price for an identical activity elsewhere, Viator will refund the difference.

Viator requires tour operators provide their lowest net and available rates offered anywhere offline or online, as a rate parity provision.

The company said that, since August, it has been testing the platform and that early feedback from “thousands” of agents has been positive.

Viator is the first major consumer-facing aggregator of tours and activities to offer direct, commissionable booking for travel agents. Its rivals include PlacePass and GetYourGuide.

Meanwhile, Airbnb has been expanding its marketing of tours and activities, which it calls “experiences.”

Viator works with a variety of third-party distribution partners, including companies like Amadeus, as part of its overall strategy. For example, starting in 2015, Amadeus attempted to upsell travelers with Viator products via its CheckMyTrip mobile app. In the UK, tech player Ingresso has enabled the cross-selling of Viator tour product to agents that use the system run by Travelport, a UK-based travel technology marketplace.

Yet in the big picture, the global distribution systems are largely not distributing activities to agents today, partly because of the challenges of making sure the content is instantly bookable.

A Viator spokesperson said: “We think [our new platform] is the most efficient, lucrative way for [agents] to book Viator products and serve their clients.”


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Tags: tours and activities, travel agents, viator

Photo credit: Travel agents can now book activities like this zipline ride in San Jose, Costa Rica, via Viator's travel agent platform. TripAdvisor

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