Scottish startup aims to support the tours and activities sector during Covid by countering large OTAs and the unsustainable fees they charge small businesses globally.
(PRUnderground) November 16th, 2020
As small tour operators feel the crush of Covid, a Scottish startup called Touriosity has launched to drive direct bookings and bring customers straight to tour operators. Large Online Travel Agents (OTAs) have been helpful in offering leverage and searchable databases for travelers looking to book holidays. But OTAs have always charged high commissions from listed operators, and those fees were actually increased against tour operators during the Covid crisis that threatened their very existence.
“The big OTAs have lost their way,” said Chris Torres, Founder of Touriosity and Director of Tourism Marketing Agency, based in Glasgow. “They’re only concerned with their investors and the money they can earn off the backs of hard-working tour operators. Ultimately, this behaviour is stealing the magic of small tour businesses who provide unique, memorable experiences for visitors. These small tour operators connect with tourists on a totally different level; they’re personally invested and interested in the value they provide. And that’s worth fighting to save.”
When Covid stopped all travel, Torres spent close to 100 hours offering free marketing consultations to tour and activity providers around the world. ”During those conversations, it became abundantly clear that tour operators are looking for a change,” said Torres. “They can’t keep paying higher and higher fees to the large OTAs. That’s eating into profits and it simply isn’t sustainable. Touriosity is just trying to level the playing field and help them survive.”
As an operator-led platform acting more like a marketing consortium than a large OTA, Touriosity offers something completely different: tour operators with 4- or 5-star reviews can pay $150 per year to list up to five tours in a single destination. That investment creates a bank from which Touriosity pays for platform maintenance and marketing. Everything is reinvested to help grow the platform and ensure these small operators have a fighting chance. Touriosity takes zero commission from any bookings made through the site.
“The time is right to try something new, something different. We’re giving this an 18-month trial; we’ll give it everything we can and see what happens,” explained Torres. “We know we’re not going to compete with the massive OTAs with multi-million-dollar budgets. But we’re hoping for some quick wins to drive direct bookings to these operators when they need it most.”
Touriosity is launching to the public in mid-November, starting with approximately 1,200 tours around the world from the first cohort of tour operators. Around 300 tour accounts are live for the initial launch, with planned quarterly rounds of new cohorts being brought onboard starting in 2021.
Tour operators using Touriosity benefit from direct bookings, interaction with potential customers during the purchase process, and the ability to collect user data for future business outreach. In addition, all operators on Touriosity can access the support side of the platform, where articles, advice, and guides are available from Touriosity partners. Tour operators can continue to learn best practices with the support of these industry partners.
Touriosity has partnered with Tourism Marketing Agency, Checkfront, Toristy, Rezdy, Orioly, Ticketing Hub, Rentrax, Wherewolf, Steller, and Redeam.
Touriosity is an Online Travel Agent (OTA) with a conscience. The main focus and aim is to help tour and activity providers grow their direct bookings while complementing their direct marketing efforts.
About Chris Torres of Tourism Marketing Agency
Chris Torres is a Brand and Digital Tourism expert with over 26 years’ industry knowledge and speaks at
many tourism events worldwide, offering his advice and guidance on how travel, tourism and destination businesses can gain brand recognition and increase bookings.
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Original Press Release.