This is the third article in our series on Choosing a Tour Booking Platform. We’ve covered “Questions to Ask About Data Security & Autonomy” and “Questions to Ask About Distribution Channels“. Now, it’s time to ask these questions about the costs and booking fees that may apply to your prospective booking platform.

 What are your booking fees, and who will be paying them?

Let’s face it – the first thing a tour operator will want to know when selecting a booking platform is how much they’ll be paying with each booking. There’s bound to be some type of booking platform cost or payment gateway fees – but this amount can vary wildly throughout the industry. FareHarbor charges a 6% booking fee. PeekPro charges a 6% ‘convenience fee’ to customers, plus a credit card fee. Checkfront and Xola offer flat monthly subscriptions but both limit bookings in each tier, and also have optional Per Booking payment plans with 5% and 6% booking fees respectively. Rezdy’s booking fees pricing is amongst the most competitive in the market, at 2% or even less depending on which tier you choose.

Of course, you’ll also want to ask whether you pay the booking fee as an operator or whether your customer does. Which leads us onto the next question…

 Can I choose who pays the booking fee?

It’s worth asking this question because as an operator, you really should have control over who pays this fee. Perhaps you would like to absorb the booking fees for larger bookings, or to let the customer pay the booking fee on smaller sized activities to keep your tour operator profit margins up. Unfortunately, many booking platforms decide on your behalf who pays the booking fee. FareHarbor, Checkfront Flex and PeekPro all force you to pass this fee onto your customers. Unfortunately, this means some customers could end up paying a $30 booking fee on top of a $500 booking.

We’re finding that operators want control and choice over who pays a booking fee, which is why in Rezdy you can simply flick a switch to decide whether you wish to absorb a fee or pass it onto your customers. It’s simply how it should be.

 What about all the extras?

It pays to also look beyond the booking fee, to assess whether hidden costs might weigh you down after it’s too late to change booking platforms. Many providers have a monthly subscription plan, which can range from free plans up to enterprise level plans. Many charge credit card fees on top of booking fees. There can also be platform-specific costs. PeekPro charges a $199 initial setup fee, for example, while Checkfront charges an additional $29 USD every month simply to build a website with their platform. In addition, consider booking limits. Xola and Checkfront plans might look tempting until you reach the booking limit in your tier and have to move up to the next plan.

If there’s a booking platform you’re considering, we’d suggest giving the sales team a call and asking about all the costs that will apply to ensure there won’t be any surprises. We aim to make our pricing crystal clear so operators can make an informed choice when considering Rezdy.

 How much control will I have over commission levels?

We all know that OTAs and resellers work on a commission-based model, so you’ll pay a commission every time customers book your tours or activities through them. You might remember that in the first article, we mentioned that some booking platforms are subsidiaries of major OTAs. The advantage of choosing an independent platform (like Rezdy) rather than one owned by a global reseller is that you’ll have full control over the commission levels and terms between you and your resellers. You can choose not to work with certain resellers or work with them all; what to offer and how to build your reseller relationships – it’s completely up to you. Reseller commission flexibility can be key for many tour and activity businesses.

And there you go: four simple questions about booking platform fees and costs that will help you gain the best value for money when choosing a booking platform. Be sure to make the most of free trial periods to see if a platform is right for you, and contact our friendly team with any questions.

Coming up next: The must-ask questions regarding payment gateways.