Earlier this week Bókun one of our major partners changed its pricing policies and this has unsettled many suppliers that we work with. Essentially what they have done is initiate a $49 per month fee and reduced the per transaction price from 2.9% to 1.5%. This brings their tool into line with many other reservation technology tools on the market, a point that Bókun made when announcing the changes.
However that hasn't really resonated with many suppliers facing mounting difficulties to stay in business during a global pandemic that restricts travel.
Phrases like "they have us over a barrel as they have a direct connection to Tripadvisor" have become commonplace in various groups and social media channels we're working with.
Over a barrel?
Firstly, let me say that our company are also impacted by this. We have gone from having free access to Bókun to a monthly fee of $248 as we use many features, an expense we could happily live without. That said Bókun and Tripadvisor are businesses. They have the right to make the changes they see fit to develop their business like any other. I am sure they have run many scenarios where they expect to lose suppliers but hope to offset that with the uptake in fees across their suite. It's not something everyone will be happy with.
However in my view, if you are a supplier, reseller or OTA, you need to take into account what moving to another res tool will cost, in terms of time and in terms of connectivity to other OTAs and such that you may have through Bókun. If the cost in time/connectivity is more than say $2000 to do then annually these monthly fees coupled with lower fees on transactions is not any more expensive than moving and paying new fees to a new vendor.
Timing is the key issue
The timing is what has annoyed a lot of suppliers we work with. We are in the middle of a game changer when it comes to the travel industry. We don't know what travel is going to look like on the other side of this pandemic even if it does come under control in the relatively near future and I think this is what has caused the most concern.
However again, I am sure Bókun will have looked at this and thought "when is it going to be a good time?". If a vaccine became available would then be a good time? No, because that still doesn't take into account the time it would take to get it globally distributed and then for the travel industry to start recovering. Nor does it take into account what "Recovery" will look like. So Bókun can't win on this one. If they do it now they're taking advantage of suppliers that don't have money to pay. If they do it later "when is later?" is the first question and how many people do I fire in the meantime is the 2nd question.
So while I have sympathy for the suppliers whom I know are struggling I also have sympathy for Bókun who literally cannot be the good guy here without sacrificing a lot of what they have built in the last 2-3 years.
What to do then?
We believe we're here to enjoy ourselves in the time we have on the planet. To us that means in getting the services offered by suppliers in front of tourists, travellers or locals that want cool experiences so they can enjoy those experiences. We know how challenging it is for a small supplier to do direct sales, work with OTAs, other partners and want to make it as easy as possible to get their product in front of the customers. Our business model is different to Bókun in that we resell services. So our base model is to seek a commission for marketing suppliers into domestic channels we create.
What we also have however is a reservation system that is priced for unlimited products and services at 2.9% - the same as Bókun was before the changes they made. This is our standard flex account.
If 2.9% becomes too much you can elect to pay a flat fee per year depending on the amount of services you offer. We have a channel manager integration that can connect your services to many other OTAs too including Viator. The key thing though is full integration with Bókun.
Resale Model full integration
Our Bókun resales model requires we import your products to Toristy. The import of all products and services takes about 5 minutes.
So by working with us we can resell your services from within Bókun and sell them outside to any new channel we create.
Resales and Reservations is what we do differently
You should never have to pay more than €700 p.a. with Toristy for direct sales from your own website. If 2.9% of transactions cost you more than that you should switch to our annual fee model. If all we were doing were building a reservation technology then our business model wouldn't work.
I think this is why Bókun has switched. They have been in growth mode for a couple of years and offering very low (almost free) rates. That's not sustainable.
We did the maths. To make that work would require 10s of thousands of merchants using our system and it will take a long time for that to happen.
However because we are aiming at reselling supplier products in addition, our model becomes something else entirely and more importantly doesn't cost the supplier anything until sales are made.
It's easy to get upset at paying more fees, especially now, I know I have not budgeted for what we're going to have to pay going forward with Bókun so I am in the same boat. However everyone knew this would happen one day, it's just the "one day" happened to be in the middle of this shit show called Covid-19. But hey, don't let it ruin your weekend. There are alternatives!