Tour Operators slam Bokun over third pricing change in two years. Bokun is unilaterally moving operators to a monthly booking fee.
Last week, we reported that Tripadvisor owned tour operator booking platform Bokun, announced in an email to its customers that the company was changing its payment model significantly. CEO Bjalti Haldursson revealed a switch to a monthly subscription model but no specifics were given on what that fee would be.
Munich based Tour Operator Alun Evans of EvansGuide woke up this morning to find that his booking platform Bokun had automatically switched him over to a $49 a month package. Previous to this Alan was paying a percentage fee on each tour booking with no monthly fee.
Alan added: ‘If you try to select staying with the free option, it says you lose your OTA connectivity via API!
Scandalous under the circumstances and they are crazy if they think people will just accept it. I have kept a Bookeo account and will look to migrate over to that asap. Until now, they had taken a fee per booking.
‘Anyone on Bokun, check your account because this kicks in from 2nd November’ he warns.
Tourpreneur learned that not only is there a $49 a month fee but a booking fee of 1.5% on each tour booking.
In the Tourpreneur Facebook Group another operator also pointed out that if you ‘look in their App Store. You have to pay to use each app. $49 just to use their iOS app on top of the monthly plan. $199 to use agent login area.’
‘Website booking widgets are also not included in free version. Paid version does not include custom reports or agents areas which are now $19 dollars and $99 a month respectively. So it’s $167 a month to get back to what you have today for no monthly fee.’
According to Chris Torres at the Tourism Marketing Agency, an operator challenged Bokun on why they should remain with Bokun and not switch to a competitor and received the following response:
‘We believe that our current pricing is highly competitive because when you look across the industry we’re on the lower end of companies charging subscription fees. This monthly subscription allows us to invest in enhancements and market-leading technology to ensure that our customers get the best value for their money and their businesses benefit.
Meanwhile, we will continue reinvesting back into our platform to bring you even more tools to succeed.’
Alun Evans argues that ‘the key here is that if you do not opt for the pro plan ($49) and stick with the free plan, you lose your OTA connectivity through API.
Considering Tripadvisor own Bokun , most operators will have that connection and not want to lose it. So it isn’t actually a choice. They kind of have you over a barrel.’
The Tourpreneur Take
Many tour operators chose to work with Bokun because there was no monthly fee. Bokun has now changed its pricing three times in the last two years. If you do not want to pay a monthly fee then there are plenty of other booking platforms out there and you have a month to shop around for a new res system.
Activity and Tour Operators across the globe are struggling to keep their businesses alive during COVID-19 so this is the worst possible time for a booking platform to increase pricing and to change its payment model completely. The 30 day notice period delivers a stinging slap in the face to those operators who trusted Bokun with their bookings.
I ask myself what is really happening at Bokun for them to make such radical and unpopular changes? Why can’t they grandfather in those operators who are existing partners?
Tourpreneur advice on shopping for a new tour operator booking platform
- Act fast – don’t wait until the last minute as I am sure many operators will now be shopping around.
- Take a piece of paper and jot down what Bokun features you like and use. Also, jot down what frustrations you have with them. What features do you wish Bokun offered?
- Book in at least 3 demos with different booking platforms. Refer to your notes, tick off each feature if they confirm they can offer it to you.
- After a minimum of 3 demos refer to your ticks – who offers most of your needs and wants?
- Ask about that booking platform in the Tourpreneur Facebook Group, you are a member, aren’t you? Especially ask about customer support.
- Find out which other tour operators are using that particular booking platform and give a few of them a call to ask them if they would recommend their platform to others?
Got more tips? Come and share them in our Tourpreneur Facebook Group.
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