3 Ways Tour Operators Avoid Paying Booking And Credit Card Fees

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How Tour Operators Avoid Booking Fees

These 3 simple steps help group travel businesses avoid excessive booking fees and credit card charges.

The travel industry ecosystem involves many players, including online travel agencies and booking aggregators that help travelers find the experiences delivered by tour operators. However, once you as an operator develop a reputation, you should be able to very easily pay a flat fee and take bookings directly from travelers, without paying large commissions to a platform, that sells to your loyal customers.

Step 1 | Aim For The Flat Fee Software Vs % Booking Fees

New travel brands may pay from 1% up to 25% to the booking platform to pick up new audience. However, the most successful travel retailers and operators are often selling to the same loyal customers, so they should be investing in building their own customer and pay a flat software fee to manage that.

“That’s why YouLi has a tiered pricing model.” – says the CEO and co-founder of YouLi Group Travel Platform, Jennifer Fein, – You can choose to pay a commission when someone books through via an affiliate network, but when your business is confident enough to build your own loyalty programs and manage your customer relationships, we drop YouLi booking fee down to zero, so you as a growing operator don’t have to keep paying huge booking fees to keep selling to your existing database.”

“as a growing operator don’t have to keep paying huge booking fees to keep selling to your existing database”

“We run regular community events that support our clients to learn how they can grow and focus on the customer experience. so that instead of it being a one-off transaction through a big OTA, it becomes a lifetime customer journey with trips booked every one to two years. Some of our clients have customers going on trips with them twice a year! That, we think, is the best way for the money to stay with the person who delivers the experience, and we are excited to be part of making it possible to reduce the amount of fee you pay as an operator.”

“focus on the customer experience, so that instead of it being a one-off transaction through a big OTA, it becomes a lifetime customer journey with trips booked every one to two years.

Step 2 | Set Up Direct Bank Transfer Option

If you are charging $3,000+ per person on a trip, paying a credit card fee plus the booking fee is simply too much. That’s why it makes sense to set up alternative payment methods, like electronic fund transfer, Venmo link, or even instructions to send you a check or a wire transfer – whatever works for your business to make sure you keep as much of that money in your pocket as possible.

It should be very easy for you to manage the alternative ways to get paid to reduce the booking and credit card fees you pay, and this gets even more important the more expensive your trips get, so look for the travel software that allows you to process manual payments easily.

Direct Bank Transfer by YouLi
Direct Payment Option inside the YouLi Planner Dashboard

Step 3 | Pass On Credit Card Surcharge

Credit card payments gained popularity due to convenience. However, using a credit card can be expensive for travel planners as there is a merchant fee added to credit card transactions. The traveler doesn’t see this, but the planner certainly does! It is a common practice to pass this fee onto the traveler by adding a “surcharge” % to the credit card option. That way it is up to the traveler to avoid the fee by making a direct bank transfer or paying extra for the convenience of an instant credit card payment.

Credit Card Surcharge setup in YouLi
Credit Card Surcharge Option inside the YouLi Planner Dashboard

Note that some jurisdictions (countries) do not allow sellers to pass credit card fees onto customers (Travelers in this case). The UK and European Union in particular have restrictions. In these cases, it is common to increase your overall price instead. 

LIMITED TIME OFFER by YouLi Group Travel Platform

Until September 22, 2021, YouLi offers group tour operators a 0% Booking Fee software package at a flat rate of US $60/month.

**YouLi Accounts activated with 0% YouLi Booking Fee prior to Sept. 22, 2021, will be grandfathered at 0% YouLi Booking Fee for the duration of the uninterrupted subscription. Cancel anytime.

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Viktoria Ayrapetyan
Viktoria Ayrapetyan
Marketing & Community Management. I believe "community" is what empowers the change makers to make a real impact on the world, so I challenge myself and others to be the most authentic self and build real connections.