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A reminder to try booking direct

One of the tour guide sites has put its commission up to 25%, most of the other booking sites are at 20% commission.

This means that if you're booking through an online booking website you're probably paying more than you need to, and to remain competative the guide is probably receiving less than they should.

Posted by
25744 posts

I have had different results than Ufkak, particularly with hotels.

In and around Venice I always book direct because I know the places and they usually give me a better deal and often a very good room, and often throw a little something in.

Same in Bruges, Gent and Haarlem. Same in Vicenza and the vicinity of Munich and Strasbourg, and in Bern.

Some places I stay the first time through one of the US or German booking sites and often book return visits directly and that often results in an upgrade and/or a little something. One hotel I use near Munich always gives me a jar of homemade jam, and sometimes two. And doesn't charge me for the garage. And is cheaper.

So I think it goes both ways, and neither is right and neither is wrong.

Posted by
649 posts

I admire the guts you have all acquired in your many years of experience with "booking directly" as you call it, and the adrenaline rush you must get from finding some terrific bargains.

I use a travel agent. She's a friend of mine and has been in the biz for four decades. She knows how things work, where things can go wrong, how to get me the better deals, and where saving a bit of money is simply not in my best interest.

Posted by
3768 posts

I see people occasionally thinking that Viator is a local tour company when it’s actually owned by TripAdvisor and just a middleman supplier. When I’m researching activities, if I see something interesting offered by Viator, I search on the description separately and can usually find the actual local tour. That saves me a little usually, but more importantly, it gives all of the cost to the actual group supplying the tour.

By the way, Simon, your info around the Loire Valley was so helpful for my 2019 trip! I think you were the person who mentioned Angers, also, which was one of my favorite days of the entire three weeks, spending several hours in the amazing fortress with the tapestries as a highlight.

Posted by
1938 posts

This is one of those times when speaking in absolutes is probably ill-advised, since the more prudent response is usually "it depends".

Case in point: although I've settled on booking.com as my go-to search engine for accommodations, I've learned to always check and see whether my choice has its own website before committing to a booking. I've found in many cases that a particular place may not offer all of their rooms on the 3rd party website, and that with a minimum of effort I can find a nicer room (larger, more amenities, better cancellation policy, etc) at a similar cost at the same place by just booking direct.

The OP offers sound advice - it's always better to check to see if booking direct is a cost-effective option.

Posted by
3768 posts

I have some examples that both agree and disagree with Ufkak’s experiences.

Some small hotels want me to book through a booking site. Even their own website has the link that goes to a booking site instead of direct. That seemed really odd to me from their standpoint but okay.

I have had some fantastic experiences booking direct with a hotel. Vienna’s Boutique Hotel am Stephansplatz comes immediately to mind. For our Germany/Austria trip about five years ago, I reserved this hotel nine months before our trip. They gave my husband and me the top floor, view directly out the balcony across from St. Stephans gorgeous roof tiles! The bathroom was almost the size of some of our other normal hotel rooms! Another is Hotel Berna in Milan who give some room perks when I booked direct.

If the hotel or B&B has a website where I can book direct with the same price and cancellation window, I almost always go with the direct reservation for their benefit.

Posted by
5666 posts

We often use the same lodgings on return trips to a city and in those cases we deal directly with the owners.

Posted by
18891 posts

As others have indicated, it has been a mixed bag for me when I've compared hotel rates, so I will continue to do that when I have time. I must say, though, that on the 2 or 3 occasions when I've needed to cancel a booking.com reservation, that has happened almost instantly. The cancelation process is sometimes considerably less efficient when one has booked direct. An email and a call to a hotel in San Jose (California) didn't yield a confirmation of a recent cancelation; I don't think it's going to be a problem, but when I'm in the midst of a trip I sure don't want to wonder whether a cancelation has gone through.

Posted by
7585 posts

Gotcha Simon. I agree that if we search a bit more, hopefully we can find the tour and book directly. I've heard the same from bed and breakfast owners, too. They said that the big search engines kept wanting higher and higher percentages and even up-front money in order to appear in the search results at all. One town I searched on Chesapeake Bay showed only one hotel, a chain 30 miles awsy. So, I went to the town website and found hotels and b&b's. As the owner of a tour company, you know what you're talking about.

Posted by
785 posts

I have noticed that some small hotels give their less than popular rooms to booking sites to fill. Sometimes the room locations are not as desirable within the hotel. I have never found a substantial savings booking direct. Maybe 8 euros or so. I have never seen a room 20% less than a third party site. As someone else stated, Booking.com is my go to as well and I agree cancellations on Booking.com is very efficient without a hassle. I also find Viator easy to use for tours.

Posted by
9794 posts

Most hotels, except for the tiny ones, prefer people to book direct. The big reason is they don't have to pay a fee to a booking site. Additionally, they may offer extras if you book direct. Better rooms, upgrades, free breakfast, etc.

It also depends on the booking site. A site like Booking.com is like dealing with an old school travel agent. You are just using them to book. Need to cancel, no problem as long as you didn't pay for a non-refundable room.

Other sites, like Expedia, are different. You are not booking a room through them. You are booking a room FROM them. They book the room and then sell it to you. They negotiate a price for the room that is much lower so they can make a profit. Most hotels hate them but because they offer so much business they deal with them. If everything goes without a hitch, you can sometimes get a good deal. But if there is a problem with your booking.....the hotel may not be able to help you. Even if you are already there. You have to get on the phone with them and good luck if you are trying to get some money back. Need to cancel, don't call the hotel. Call Expedia, or Hotels.com, Or Travelocity.

I've also seen hotels over book and then have to "walk" people. Guess who goes first.....the guest who booked directly or the one who used a third party like Expedia? I've seen it happen.

I usually book direct but will use Booking.com if the hotel's reservation system isn't good.

To say a hotel would prefer you book with a third party is not true. Well, it might be if the hotel doesn't want to pay for a reservation system. In all my travels I've only had one hotel tell me to use Booking.com rather than their website.

Posted by
361 posts

When I’m researching activities, if I see something interesting offered by Viator, I search on the description separately and can usually find the actual local tour.

hehe I'm glad I'm not the only one that does that. Viator makes for a great search engine, so to speak, but I'd rather book directly through the providers if and when looking for a tour or other such activity. So I'll copy and paste portions of the activity description, or even do image searches (take a picture from the tour's info page on viator to run an image search on google), make note of things people say in reviews on Viator (such as the tour guide's name) and so on. Viator and TripAdvisor don't need my money :)

Posted by
2588 posts

Staying on the topic of the original post (unusual for me, I know), I am a huge fan of hiring local guides, and I have found Simon's advice with respect to guides to be true. It is significantly cheaper to book direct with a guide than to book through a site such as Tours by Locals (TBL). I will often peruse TBL and hope guides post enough info that I can google them to find their private site. I've also had luck finding inexpensive guides by contacting TI offices, contacting a (small, family-owned) hotel where I will be staying, and just googling the town name + "private guide."

Posted by
3768 posts

“ To say a hotel would prefer you book with a third party is not true. Well, it might be if the hotel doesn't want to pay for a reservation system. In all my travels I've only had one hotel tell me to use Booking.com rather than their website.”

Frank II, I’ve had hotel websites link directly into Booking.com or similar when I tried to make a reservation on the hotel website. But, the craziest incident was when we were in Phnom Penh, Cambodia at a nice hotel. We stayed at the hotel both over the weekend and also at our conclusion of a couple of weeks volunteering during the week at a tiny village. Both times when we were at their front desk and wanted to reserve a room for two nights, they pointed to a sign to reserve thru Expedia and then come get the key!

Posted by
3789 posts

Moving back on topic, booking directly, particularly for tour guides, may make a big difference in allowing them to make a viable wage while the world gets back on track. Bargains are great, but consciously seeing that your activity budget dollars go to those who rely on your fees, may add to your overall satisfaction. I know we work hard for our travel $, but if we can afford to travel, then we should be able to afford to consider those that make them wonderful trips.....just sayin'.

Posted by
17979 posts

But especially with lodging this rule [book direct] is not true.

Ufkak

I've definitely found booking direct to be the best way to boo accommodations. Now, admittedly, my booking experience has been almost exclusively in Germany and in smaller towns, where I have booked almost 160 nights at 47 properties in 39 towns.

I almost always start my search in the town website (town_name.de) or sometimes just with Google Maps, but I always look at what Booking,com has to offer. In short, I have never booked a room with Booking.com; I have always found as good a deal, usually better, booking direct vs. Booking.com.

Compare Booking.com with the same property booked directly. Booking will try to tell you that you cannot get a better price booking directly, but that is not usually true. Properties have a number of ways to get around that. One is to offer package deals not offered on Booking. First case in point: We stayed in a hotel in a spa town in the Black Forest. The price of a double room for two nights was the same on both Booking and the hotel site, but on the hotel site we were able to get a package deal, including Therme entrance (which was the whole reason we stayed there) for only a little more than the room alone on Booking. Net result was about 20€ per person difference vs booking with Booking and buying Therme entrance separately - booking directly was less expensive. Another time I stayed in a lodge in the Harz; the package deal offered for 5 night by the lodges was the same as 5 nights with booking, but the package deal included one meal per day (in addition to breakfast).

I know of a hotel in the Bavarian Alps that has 9 rooms, priced over a range depending on size, what floor it's on, and whether it has a balcony. There is one deluxe room at a higher price than the others. On Booking, all room shown as available at the hotel are priced at that maximum price. If the most expensive room is available and they give it to you, and you pay the same for that room on Booking as you would direct, but if that room is taken, you get a less expensive room from Booking but still pay the higher price. I've seen other hotels where there are two levels of rooms, standard and deluxe. Only the deluxe price rooms are shown as available on Booking - I don't know if you even get the deluxe rooms with Booking, but if you book direct you can get a less expensive room that is probably perfectly adequate. And there are some properties that just flat-out defy the booking websites and offer rooms for less if you book directly.

But the real difference between booking directly and booking with a booking website comes from the far greater number of places to choose from by using Google Maps or a town website. I have found, through numerous comparisons, that most small towns have 2 to 3 times as many places available as there are shown on a booking website, and the few places shown on booking websites are invariably the most expensive places in town - the places that are overpriced enough to afford the 15% to 20% fee that booking websites charge.

There are a few major cities where the town website is a captive of a booking website (like HRS in Munich). In these places, every property on the town website still has to pay the website's fee, but you can usually use Google Maps to find places that are not captives of booking sites.

Then they should price accordingly. But they don't as a general rule.

I've seen a lot of hotel that do price accordingly. Some even tell you, "book directly with us and save".

Posted by
324 posts

Thanks Jean.

It's interesting how easily a post can get hijacked.. :)

When we price a tour, we price it on what we need to recieve to keep the business viable. If it is being posted on an agregator site (which we have to do - see later...) we add the percentage the agregator site takes onto the price. This is the only way of ensuring we are making a living wage. The problem occurs where Viator (for instance) have a condition that says we have to charge less on Viator than advertised anywhere else on the internet. For those websites we design tours especially curated so as not to breech those rules.

Why do we bother with Viator? Two reasons:

1 - We have to have tours listed on Viator. Otherwise people reading our reviews on TripAdvisor are told they cannot book our tours online and directed to our competitors.

2 - The advertising dollar the big companies like Viator can afford means that independant tour operators can't compete and we are priced out of search results. You will find us on Google when looking for private tours of the Loire Valley - but after 5 pages of Viator and Tripadvisor ads.

Note here - I am posting on a forum called Day Tours about tours. Not about hotels (which I also try to book directly as it gives me more control, and the provider a greater share of the take)

Posted by
7585 posts

If a business doesn't fork over to the mafia, the owners can lose their lives.
If travel business owners don't fork over to Trip Advisor and Viator, they can lose their livelihoods.

Posted by
1069 posts

Simon, this is a good reminder and also a good “behind the scenes” explanation.

I know we all come at logic and perception from different directions but for a tour, I myself would just feel so much more confident and secure if I could book directly with my tour guide rather than going through a middle man somewhere. So that would always be my choice.

Posted by
2588 posts

Before TA got in the tour-selling business, it was a great place to find private guides. It's a real headache to try to use it for that purpose now.

Posted by
324 posts

Thought I would pop in and have a look....

... and remind people that if we are paying 25% commission, you're not paying 25% more - you're paying 33% more.

If we work out that a fully inclusive tour with driver and guide costs a client $1000, we have to charge you $1300 if booked through a 3rd party. They charge us 25% of $1300, which is $325, and give us $975.

Posted by
324 posts

Ufkak

We have a website, and until recently 80% of people booked direct. There was no issue with having to spend big bucks on any of the stuff you mentioned. Then big companies like TripAdvisor started advertising heavily and leveraged small companies into having to place tours with them or have no exposure at all. We were pushed off page 1 of Google search by adverts that are being paid for by the people that are being forced to pay more for services.

As I said earlier - we HAVE to have tours on Viator - otehrwise people who find our reviews get directed to book with our competitors.

When we price a tour at $1000 thats what we charge if the client books direct. If the same tour is booked through a booking company we charge $1300. We received less, the client pays a lot more. I don't understand your last attempt at trying to score a point

Posted by
785 posts

Simon, I believe his point is that being a tour guide is no different than a hotel, airline or any others who must pay a third party to reap the benefits of TripAdvisor, Viator, Booking.com or others who have to pay their overhead as well.

If I used you as a guide, had a pleasurable experience, I would refer others to you. Word of mouth is the best advertiser. Most travelers don't really care about the wows of hoteliers, guides, restaurant owner's commissions or fee wows. They are interested in how much? Is it fair? Can I afford it? Do they have good legitimate reviews? Did I enjoy it?

If you are a good guide, do a good job, give your clients a wonderful experience, people will recommend you. Many people on this site have their "favorite" anything. Perform well and you might be able to reduce the reliance on third parties completely. Good Luck.

Posted by
1069 posts

I am also trying to figure out why anyone would have a problem with knowing we would normally pay less to book direct for tours. Simon is giving us a behind the scenes look at guided tour pricing in France. Same may not be true for hotels but that wasn’t the topic.

Posted by
7585 posts

Trip Advisor and others dominate search engines for pages and pages. It becomes impossible to find an independent guide’s services without knowing the exact name of the company and location because they are buried so far back in the pages. So it’s pay up or lose. Plenty of services did fine before so-called net neutrality put the big guys out front in control.

Posted by
17979 posts

As a travel products consumer with considerable experience finding accommodations, tours, etc online, I don't see that these third party website provide anything worthwhile. I regularly get better deals going directly to the company selling the product than I could have gotten from any of these "resellers".

One time I was going to return to a town I had stayed in earlier, and I wanted to stay at the same hotel I had stayed at my first trip, so I tried Googling it. I found the actual website for the hotel on, as I remember, the fifth page, after scores of listings for the hotel on Booking and TripAdvisor, multiple duplicate "finds" for the same hotel and the same third party provider. The fact that they work so hard to make it difficult for you to find what you are looking for is a dead give-away that what they are offering is not to your benefit.

Posted by
7585 posts

The key here is a consumer has to already know the exact name, spelled correctly, to be able to find it on the 5th or 10th page of a search engine. Discovering independent companies and opportunities has been strangled off by the giants. This means websites like this Forum, ironically Expedia-owned Cruise Critic, or the other travel forums is where we can help the independents can get their referrals.

Posted by
9794 posts

A big problem travel providers face is the amount of advertising being done by these third party companies. Don't forget, the majority of people who book don't come to this forum, or perhaps any forum. They want a hotel and they don't know anything about the place they are visiting. So they look for reviews. They've seen the ads for the third party sites and go there. These third party sites make it very easy to book. Even in U.S. dollars. (Let's not start on that one.)

One quick story about Expedia. I have a hotel in London I love to stay in have many times. One night I was chatting to the people working reception when an older couple--probably in their late 70's--arrived. They had a reservation from Expedia for a room for two. No specific type. Well, this hotel has two rooms with bunk beds. Expedia booked one of those for this couple because it's the cheapest room for two. The husband was game but the wife said no. They paid a little more and were given a very nice double.

For the same hotel, Expedia describes "maginificent views of London." The views are of rooftops of nearby buildings if you are on upper floor. It's also in a residential neighborhood far from any major sight. One couple arrived and were angry because their room didn't have a view. The receptionist explained that they had no control over what Expedia writes.

Dealing direct will usually save you money. Sometimes you have to contact them directly and not only will they match price, but they may throw something in for free. Let's say you pay $100 for a room. Book direct and the hotel gets $100. Book through a third party like Expedia, and the hotel might only get $70 or $75. That's also why on some hotel websites they offer an incentive to book directly.

Posted by
17979 posts

you want to outsource your marketing and advertising expenses onto the large corporations
who bring you 95 out of 100 customers, customers who would not be able to find you without these websites

If only that were true, you might have a point, but it seems that most of the time all that marketing and advertising effort only goes to get the "large corporations" listing in front of the actual tour provider.

Take, for instance, a certain Dachau tour using the S-Bahn and bus from the Munich Hbf. When I did a search for "Dachau tours, Munich", the first listing was a tour offer from Viator. The second listing was a tour from Radius. The Viator tour was the very same one offered by Radius. If it hadn't been for Viator, the Radius tour would have been the first one on the list. Viator is contributing nothing of value to the world. All these parasites are doing is getting their resale of the Radius tour listed first so Radius has to pay them.

Radius shows the departure point as the "Munich Central Station". In order, apparently, to avoid your comparing the offers and realizing that it's the same tour, Viator shows the departure point as "Arnulfstraße 3", which is actually the address of the Munich Central Station.

Posted by
2588 posts

I am also trying to figure out why anyone would have a problem with
knowing we would normally pay less to book direct for tours.

Agree!

Posted by
785 posts

Ms. Jo

I certainly understand your frustration with TA and Viator. First, unless I missed it somewhere, Viator does not own TripAdvisor. Second, customers who book through Viator may or may not be getting ripped off. Viator is simply doing what Amazon does. They bring vendors together with customers. Customer chooses.

If people buy directly from Viator instead of buying direct from the tour operator, they may be paying more, but many people, including myself, like the one stop shopping and do not mind paying a few euros more for the convenience. Also, in this day and age, people are more reluctant to just issue a credit card to a vendor unless they are confident they are legit. (I am not saying you are not) but you have to understand, Viator and conglomerate sights have a higher confidence level with buyers. I have used Viator about 7-10 times and always had a very good experience.

You said you get a 75% commission of your set tour price, but Viator can retail it for more than your set price. Is this in the agreement you signed with them? If not, sue them. If you agreed, why are you complaining? Drop them if you are not getting business from them and spend your money on other targeted advertising.

As I stated to the OP, if you offer a great tour, your clients enjoy it, your clients will recommend you to others and you will be as busy as can be. You propose to use Viator for shopping, but then go buy direct from the tour operator. Some people do that all the time to save a few euros. Good for them and you, but are you not trying to rip off Viator for using their sight and not give them a commission they deserve?

Good Luck to you with your business.

Posted by
7585 posts

Where did Miss Jo’s informative post go? If anyone knows the situation well, she does. Did she ruffle someone’s over sensitive feathers with her firsthand experience? Having toured with her company, I I’d recommend their services any day.

Jo, please rewrite your informative post. People need to know what these giants are doing to the independents.

I refuse to give my money to Viator. Just like Trip Advisor, as the independent grows, TA and Viator raise their rates, giving the indépendant the choice of paying more and more or dropping to the back pages of a web search. They can never get ahead.

Posted by
2588 posts

@Threadwear

I'm going to respectfully reflect back to you your question that you asked Simon further up in the thread...

So [Threadwear], you are a tour guide?

If the answer is "no," can you see how you, as someone who has experienced the guiding business only as a consumer, might not be aware of the complexity of factors that impact a guide's ability to make a living? Can you also see how offering basic, Business 101-level business plan advice to professionals who have been in the guiding business for much of their adult lives may come across as a bit presumptuous and insulting? I truly am not trying to be a jerk -- just hoping to get you thinking.

You are absolutely correct that many travelers (perhaps the vast majority) like having a single place to go to look for guides/tours. That's a perfectly legitimate way to travel and to find guides; no one should feel like they are "less correct" in their travel for doing that.

As I mentioned above, I use a lot of private guides. I've learned I'm looking for a guide who will do more than just show me stuff. My favorite tours have involved a proud native showing off what is cool about where she/he lives while sharing her/his experience of growing up and living in that place. The content of the tour is very important, but the personhood/humanity of the guide is also very important to me. Since being a guide is a big part of who guides are, I talk to them about guiding. Every private guide with whom I've talked on the subject has a STRONG preference for direct booking. So, I make the extra effort to book direct. To be honest, even if there was no price difference, I would book direct, because I would rather the extra dollars go to the guide than to a faceless multi-national business entity.

One last thought... Given that two of Rick Steves' principles are budget travel and an awareness of the people in the places we travel (not just the sites), it's pretty appropriate for Simon to bring up in this Forum a topic that (1) lowers costs for consumers and (2) improves the lives of the locals (guides) in the places we visit. So... I'll add a hardy thanks to Simon for bringing this issue to the Forum's attention and to Ms Jo for expanding upon it.

Posted by
7908 posts

I deleted my post. The lack of empathy from some of these posters about the money-grubbing policies of Viator really upset me. I was reporting what tour companies around the world have to put up with from Viator, Get your Guide, etc. Even Air BnB is in on the act. Charging a 25-30% commission?
We get that they want a commission and we have no problem with that, but the rates are ridiculous and their service is horrendous. Many tour companies feel like they have us over a barrel. We disappear from TA as well as Google if we are not listing with them. It doesn't matter how many great reviews you have.

Posted by
2064 posts

In previous years, I've worked as an independent guide, as an IC (independent contractor) for companies who use Viator or similar entities, and as a travel advisor. So I've seen many sides of the question and can certainly empathize with Simon and Ms. Jo's positions.

There has been a change at Viator about a year ago that many consumers may not be aware of. Previously, you could not determine who the operating company of your tour or activity was until AFTER you paid for it... Once payment was completed, that information was provided to you. Now - on most entries - you can see who is operating the tour BEFORE making the purchase.

As you read through the Viator tour details, look for the ADDITIONAL INFORMATION section on the webpage. When you click on that, the last entry will probably now read: Operated by XXXXXX. Ms. Jo, I searched and found one of your tours and yes, your company name is provided by Viator - it's not hyperlinked, but it is listed. This is a great tool that allows consumers to research a product before buying - or to reach out directly to the operator if they so choose.

I can understand the convenience of "one-stop" shopping. Certainly, many of my current clients utilize our services because they just don't have the time, the knowledge, or the travel experience. For us, like many experienced travelers on this and other travel forums, it's more about the relationship we cultivate with our operators & partners - as we might with Ms. Jo or Simon. There's no wrong or right way to book something - more so what works best for you, the consumer. The challenge is perhaps knowing who-to-book-with and that's where the Google, Facebook, etc logistics kick in. So here's one option - using Viator for research - to connect you.

Posted by
7585 posts

That's good news Ron if it continues once people can travel. Right now, it's a gesture.

When Viator first appeared, and before TA became an advertisement for Viator, a couple wrote here for advice. The had paid for a tour, but the operator never received the order. They were left waiting outside their hotel. Next, Viator refused to refund saying it wasn't their fault, but the operator hadn't received the money, either. That was all I needed to know to always make the effort to book directly.

Posted by
25744 posts

There was discussion up thread if Viator owns Tripadvisor.

It is the other way around.

Tripadvisor:
Founded: February 2000, Needham, Massachusetts, United States
Subsidiaries: FlipKey, Viator, Oyster Travel Corporation, SeatGuru.com Inc., SinglePlatform, LLC, Wanderfly, Inc., Zetrip, Inc., GateGuru, Inc., TAMG Ventures Co., Beeem, Inc, Independent Traveler Inc
Parent organization: Tripadvisor Holdings LLC
Founders: Stephen Kaufer, Langley Steinert

Viator was acquired in July 2014 for 200 million dollars (200,000,000.00) so they need to sell a lot of tours to pay back the investment.

Posted by
2064 posts

Bets, I am not advocating for Viator - simply providing an option so travelers can see who is operating their activity and research as they like. When booking tours, I primarily work directly with a vendor or through a DMC, with vetted sub-contractors. I have used Viator - albeit infrequently - if a traveler specifically requests THAT tour and I do not have a relationship with the operator, or, for example, that operator will not accept an American Credit Card.

This "operator-info" policy was implemented before the COVID situation started. For TA's, it had been a perennial request on annual surveys as they wanted/needed to know who would actually be handling their clients. In the past, once the operator info was published at the time of purchase, many TA's would do the research and would then cancel the activity if the operator did not meet their standards.

This policy has been in place - and is still in place - as folks have continually booked Viator to locations that have been accessible during the varied current restrictions - like Hawaii, domestic USA, Caribbean, etc. It does appear to be here to stay... and no doubt, TA's would push back if this "information" was rescinded.

Posted by
2588 posts

Ron,

Your comments on TA's interests me. I had not thought about Viator being a portal for travel agents (which I'm pretty sure is to what the acronym TA refers). Interesting. So, it gives travel agents a place to one-stop shop, too, which further demonstrates the company's control over a guide's livelihood.