The online sale of activity services, a sector in full mutation

Through this article, we want to enable activity providers to make an informed decision on whether or not to register on booking platforms.


We have seen in a previous article that the OTA (Online Travel Agencies) like booking.com or Expedia are the new leaders in the reservation of tourist accommodation. Their arrival has changed the habits of the sector by allowing accommodation providers to improve their visibility on the web. At the same time, it has led to an overall drop in prices and revenues for accommodation rental professionals, forcing some of them to close their establishments.

The activity providers are experiencing the same phenomenon with the appearance of booking platforms specialized in activity services (e.g. Viator, Ceetiz).

However, the activity provision sector is more complex and diverse than the accommodation sector. Therefore, they cannot be approached in the same way.

We chose to identify the differences between these two sectors in order to understand the the challenges that the presence of new players implies for activity providers.

The place and time of reservation differ

The first big difference with accommodation is the moment and the place reservation.

Indeed, most holidaymakers book their accommodation well before their arrival, from their home sweet home! As far as the services are concerned, in the majority of cases tourists book on their holiday location a few days or hours before the activity.

Differences in booking patterns have an impact on marketing strategies. Hoteliers need to have international visibility almost all year round! Whereas for activity providers, promotion (online advertising, flyers, Facebook ads etc.) is done within a limited radius of a few kilometres and during a short seasonal period.

So, of course, the OTA allow activity providers to attract new customers by improving their visibility on the web, but it is important to keep in mind their commission rate (ranging from 10% to 25%, which represents on average about 20 euros). This commission is to be compared to the local advertising cost that the provider can either make himself (by offering a welcome drink worth 20€ for example) or buy online (by buying a 20€ advertisement on Facebook which will allow him to gain visibility while targeting the people he wants to reach).

A greater need for live exchange for providers

In all sectors, the customer relationship is at the heart of the concerns. Activity providers are more than concerned by this issue. They must establish a climate of confidence with their clients (for example, when a father books a skydiving trip with his daughter, he needs to be reassured, the instructor must be available to answer all his questions...). The live chatThis is why it is so important to have a good understanding of how to deal with a client's needs, whether by telephone or face-to-face.

However, it is almost impossible to establish this relationship of trust by going through the OTA. Indeed, to favour direct contact between the client and the service provider would mean a significant loss of earnings for them. They therefore protect their interests by hiding the name of the client in order to inhibit dialogue and keep their commission.

It is therefore necessary to favour online booking agencies that encourage exchange live, but we can't hide the fact that they are becoming increasingly rare!

More complex and diversified availability management

The management of a schedule for rooms for rent is relatively simple and not very restrictive. Activity providers are faced with schedules much more complex. It is necessary to manage guides, groups, departure and arrival times, transport... In short, a more or less complicated task depending on the type of activity. The OTAs have not yet succeeded in providing a unique planning management tool that would be adapted to the needs of the different sports activities.

When activity providers choose their online booking agencyTherefore, they must pay particular attention to schedule management tools offered. In most cases, they will need to keep an internal tool as a complement, to which it will be necessary to add the reservations generated by the chosen OTA. Other tools such as the " channel manager "The most important thing to consider is whether they want to digitize and automate their booking schedule. However, this increases the cost and complexity of management.

Federations in large numbers and more difficult to mobilize

The accommodation rental industry has a small number of unions, making it easier for them to work together. For example, hoteliers have been protected through joint action by unions in the Booking parity clause. If a similar situation were to happen to activity providers, the many federations (French Sailing Federation, French Mountain and Climbing Federation etc.) and unions would make it difficult to achieve the seamless coordination that is essential for effective action with government.

It would then be very difficult for activity providers to put pressure on OTAs to remove unfair clauses.

We find that all of these differences make difficult the relations between activity providers and OTAs. However, they are not discouraged, since it is undeniable that the sale of activities on the Internet is growing day by day. This boom is therefore a source of opportunities for these online booking platforms.

A booming market that attracts investors!

The market for online sales of activities are booming and attracts many players! Indeed, the market for activity services represents 49 billion in profit in the world per year. Online booking is at the heart of the issue: 80% of European tourists prepare their trips on the internet.

The OTA are therefore trying to establish themselves in this sector by buying or creating new booking tools. Examples include Tripadivsor, which bought Viator, Airbnb, which launched Trips, and sites that specialize in a particular sector, such as WineTour Booking for wine tours and tastings at wineries.

Dear Activity Providers, our recommendations for a good use of OTAs

Maintain some autonomy

Any partnership is good to take as long as a certain autonomy is kept. Indeed, if you go exclusively through an intermediary you take several risks: change of contract, closure of the site, price increase, etc. As for the hosting, we advise you to limit the share of revenue from an intermediary to 30% and encourage direct booking.

Trigger a ripple effect

It is important to take advantage of the visibility given by these booking platforms to trigger a ripple effect. That is to say that when a potential customer identifies you on an online booking platform, he must be able to find you easily by a simple Google search. For this it is important to have unique keywords between your platforms allowing a good referencing. We advise you to favour online sales sites where you can put forward your brand and your colours! This is the essential condition for the ripple effect to work and bring you direct bookings.

Maximize your visibility to increase your direct bookings

To maximize your visibility, your website must be modern and responsive (the reading and browsing experience must be optimal for the user regardless of the type of device). In addition, we advise you to create a " Google my business You can also use the "My Account" button, which allows you to give basic information such as your location or the link to your website. You can also use the social networks which offer the possibility of advertising at a lower cost. If you have a Facebook (or other) page, don't forget to update it regularly. A page with no activity will make potential customers wary.

You have understood that independence and therefore the direct bookings are your best allies. Indeed, taking your reservations by phone or face to face allows you to build a customer relationship of quality. However, by doing so, you cannot be sure that your client will show up on the day or that the group will be complete. In short, it is very difficult toengage your customer in order to avoid last-minute cancellations. The " no-show "These are always unwelcome! Not only do they disrupt your organization, they also have a real impact on your sales. Many of you then ask for cheques or transfers. Solutions that involve a lot of management work, that do not necessarily allow you to secure the reservations of your foreign customers and that are neither practical nor efficient.
And if you could ask for your online down payments in a few clicks?

Secure live bookings with Swikly!

Swikly offers a solution adapted to activity providers that facilitates the securing reservations. From the platform swikly.comYou can make your down payment requests at any time, wherever you are. Only themail address and the telephone number of your customer are required. Following your request, your customer receives an email or SMS inviting him to enter his credit card imprint. It is only debited in case of late cancellation. This way, you keep your payment habits and your customer is protected from any unjustified debit.

Swikly allows you to secure your income and stall while relying on thecustomer experience !

So tired of being stood up ? Choose Swiklythe simple and secure solution for requesting advance payments via the Internet!

Have we piqued your curiosity?

Discover Swikly, the #1 online bonding solution for rental professionals!

Legal information

Editorial references

The swikly.com website is published by SWIKLY, a simplified joint stock company with a capital of 10,000 euros.
SWIKLY is registered in the Lyon Trade and Companies Register under number RCS 819 514 076
The head office is located in Lyon (France), 92 Cours Lafayette 69003 - Telephone: +33 4 20 88 00 48 - email: contact@swikly.com
Director of publication: Mr. Shaun WOURM, President of SWIKLY - shaun.wourm@swikly.com.
The hosting of the Site has been entrusted to Microsoft Ireland Operations Limited (Microsoft AZURE offer), whose registered office is located at DUBLIN 18 99000 BLACKTHORN ROAD, Ireland, registered in the Trade and Companies Register of "Foreign company n/immat.RCS" under the number 419 423 728, reachable by phone at +353 1850 940 940.
SWIKLY - April 2016 - All rights reserved

Personal data

The creation of a personal account and the use of the site imply the collection of personal data and the processing of data.
The purpose of this processing is the management of the Swikly smarphone Application, of the Website Services and the activity of the SWIKLY company. This processing of personal data is the subject of a declaration to the CNIL by the Company under the number 1948037.
The following personal data of the user is accessible to any other registered user:
-first name and first letter of a user's name.
The following personal data of the user is accessible to any user who has accepted a Swik of the said user concerned:
-first name, last name and reputation of the user.
Personal data is transferred by the Company to its service providers and subcontractors, in accordance with the aforementioned declaration made to the CNIL. All access to the user's personal data by these subcontractors and service providers is subject to the use of a login and password, with the data also being transmitted via an encrypted link.
No personal data is collected for purposes other than those mentioned above, nor is it passed on to third parties without your consent or used without your knowledge.
In accordance with the law n°78-17 of January 6, 1978 modified, relating to Data processing, the Files and Freedoms, you have a right of access, of modification and suppression of the personal data concerning you (art.34 of the law).
These rights can be exercised with the Data Controller:
Service CNIL, Société SWIKLY - 12 rue de la Barre 69002 LYON, France - contact@swikly.com.
You will find all the information concerning your rights, duties and the protection of personal data on the website of the Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés: http://www.cnil.fr
When you visit the Site, a cookie is placed on your computer. The Company uses cookies to enable and facilitate electronic communication, to provide features tailored to the needs of Users. The cookie is used to identify the user at each of his connections, and thus facilitates his access to the Service. The user can refuse cookies when accessing the smarphone Application or by changing the configuration of his browser. This may however alter the functionality of the smarphone Application, which the User accepts.


To report any errors or anomalies on the site:
Webmaster: contact@swikly.com

Cookie policy

What is a cookie?

A cookie is a small text file and covers all types of tracers "deposited and read, for example, when a website is consulted, when an e-mail is read, or when software or a mobile application is installed or used, regardless of the type of terminal used". 

It may be placed by the server of the site visited or by a third-party server (advertising agency, web analytics service, etc.). Cookies do not compromise site security.

Cookies deposited by Swikly

When you connect to our Site, we may install various cookies on your terminal. The cookies we issue allow us to :

- Maintain the proper functioning of the Site

- Memorize the selected language version of the Site

- To record and adapt the functionalities of the Site according to your browsing preferences (identification, adapting to the types of devices used)

- manage the acceptance and retention period of cookies

In accordance with regulations, cookies have a maximum lifetime of 13 months.

Cookies issued by third parties

- Analytics cookies:

They enable us to track the number of visitors to our site and your browsing habits (Google Analytics cookies), and to generate statistical data on site usage. This enables us to improve the Site's performance.


- Cookies placed by our advertising partners : 

These cookies enable us to identify your centers of interest, and thus offer you relevant advertising content when you browse other sites. 

If you do not authorize these cookies, you will be subject to less targeted advertising.


- Social network cookies :

While browsing our Site, you may click on the "social networks" buttons to view our Facebook and Youtube profiles. These third-party applications may use cookies to offer you targeted advertising. By clicking on the social network icon, the latter may identify you. If you are connected to the social network while browsing our Site, the sharing buttons allow you to link the content you consult to your user account.


We cannot control the process used by social networks to collect information relating to your browsing on our Site. We therefore invite you to consult their personal data protection policies to find out how they are used and what browsing information they may collect.


- Cookies set by Hotjar


We use Hotjar to better understand our users' needs and optimize the www.swikly.com website.. Hotjar is a technological service that helps us to better understand our users' experience (for example, time spent on a page, links clicked, and more generally browsing habits, etc.). This enables us to improve our service. The data collected by Hotjar through cookies relates to the behavior of users and their devices (in particular the device's IP address captured and stored only in anonymous form), device screen size, device type (unique identifiers), browser information, geographical location (country only), preferred language used to display the website). Hotjar stores this information in a pseudonymous user profile. Neither Hotjar nor Swikly will ever use this information to identify individual users or associate it with other data. For more details, please consult Hotjar's privacy policy

Cookie management

When you visit our site for the first time, a cookie banner will appear, asking you to consent to or refuse the use of cookies.

Your rights

In accordance with the French Data Protection Act of January 6, 1978, as amended, and the RGPD, you have the right to access, rectify, oppose, delete and limit information from cookies and other tracers. To do so, please contact contact@swikly.com.