Mar 15, 2024

How to build a website like Viator

Viator is an online marketplace that specializes in offering travelers a wide array of tours, activities, and experiences worldwide. Discover the steps to create a marketplace inspired by Viator's success.

Introduction: Why build a website like Viator

Viator's success as an online marketplace for tours, activities, and attractions can be attributed to its comprehensive and user-friendly platform that caters to a wide range of travelers' needs. By offering a vast selection of experiences in destinations around the world, Viator taps into the growing trend of experiential travel, allowing users to easily discover and book unique local experiences that enhance their trips. The platform's success is further bolstered by its customer-centric approach, featuring transparent reviews, flexible booking policies, and 24/7 customer support. Viator's strategic partnerships with local operators and its integration with TripAdvisor (its parent company) expand its reach and credibility, making it a go-to resource for travelers seeking authentic and memorable experiences. This combination of variety, reliability, and user-friendliness has positioned Viator as a leader in the online travel experience marketplace.

How does a website like Viator work?

For buyers, Viator offers a streamlined platform to explore and book a wide array of travel experiences, from tours to activities. Users can browse options based on destination, read reviews, compare prices, and secure their spots directly through the website or app, making trip planning both efficient and enjoyable.

For sellers, Viator operates as a powerful platform to showcase and sell their tours and activities to a global audience. By listing their offerings, sellers gain access to Viator's extensive network of travelers, benefiting from the site's marketing and booking system. This exposure helps sellers increase their visibility and sales, while Viator handles customer transactions and support, making it easier for sellers to focus on delivering exceptional experiences.

What is Viator's business model?

Viator, a TripAdvisor company, operates as an online marketplace and technology platform where travelers can discover, compare, and book tours, excursions, and other travel experiences around the world. Its business model is centered on aggregating a vast selection of travel activities provided by local tour operators and experience providers, thereby offering a one-stop-shop for travelers seeking unique and memorable experiences. Viator generates revenue by taking a commission from each booking made through its platform. This commission is a percentage of the total booking value, paid by the experience providers. The platform differentiates itself by emphasizing the quality and uniqueness of experiences, user reviews, and the convenience of finding and booking a wide range of activities in one place. By leveraging the power of TripAdvisor's extensive user base and review system, Viator ensures a high level of trust and reliability, encouraging more users to book experiences through its platform.

Viator, a TripAdvisor company, operates as an online marketplace for travelers seeking to book tours, activities, and experiences around the world. It generates revenue primarily through a commission-based model. When a customer books an experience through Viator, the company takes a percentage of the sale as its commission. This commission is charged to the local tour operators and activity providers who list their offerings on the Viator platform. The percentage can vary depending on various factors, including the type of activity, the pricing, and the agreement between Viator and the provider. This model incentivizes Viator to maintain a wide and appealing selection of tours and activities, as its revenue directly correlates with the volume and value of bookings made through its site. Additionally, Viator may also earn through strategic partnerships, premium listings, and advertising services offered to providers looking to enhance their visibility on the platform.

Key features of Viator

The most important functionality of a marketplace like Viator, which specializes in travel experiences, tours, and activities, is to effectively connect travelers with a wide range of high-quality, reliable, and unique travel experiences. This involves several key functionalities:

  1. Comprehensive and Diverse Listings: Offering a wide variety of tours, activities, and experiences that cater to different interests, budgets, and demographics. This includes everything from city tours and museum tickets to adventure activities and exclusive experiences.

  2. User-Friendly Interface: Providing an easy-to-navigate platform that allows users to effortlessly search, compare, and book experiences. This includes features like search filters, categories, and a seamless booking process.

  3. Detailed and Accurate Information: Each listing should provide detailed information about the experience, including what to expect, duration, pricing, inclusions and exclusions, meeting points, and any other relevant details. High-quality photos and videos can also help give users a better idea of the experience.

  4. Customer Reviews and Ratings: Allowing users to read reviews and see ratings from other travelers is crucial for building trust and helping users make informed decisions. This feedback mechanism also encourages providers to maintain high standards.

  5. Secure and Flexible Booking System: A secure payment gateway that protects user information, along with flexible booking options, such as free cancellation within a certain timeframe, is essential for user convenience and confidence.

  6. Customer Support: Providing excellent customer support before, during, and after the booking process, including handling inquiries, changes, cancellations, and any issues that may arise.

  7. Localization: Offering services in multiple languages and supporting various currencies can significantly enhance the user experience for a global audience.

  8. Mobile Optimization: Given the increasing reliance on smartphones for travel planning and bookings, a mobile-friendly website or a dedicated app is crucial for reaching and engaging users.

In summary, the most important functionality of a marketplace like Viator is to offer a user-friendly platform that connects travelers with a wide range of quality travel experiences, supported by detailed information, customer reviews, secure booking, and excellent customer service.

Building a platform like Viator, which offers a marketplace for booking tours and travel experiences, involves significant investment. The cost can vary widely based on features, scale, and region but generally starts from $100,000 to $500,000 or more. Key expenses include market research, UI/UX design, backend development, payment processing integration, security measures, and initial content creation. Costs also encompass mobile app development (iOS and Android), testing, and marketing. The price can escalate with advanced features like AI-based recommendations, multi-language support, and high-end security protocols. Ongoing expenses include server costs, maintenance, updates, and customer support.

How to create a successful alternative to Viator

Identify gaps in the current market that Viator and similar platforms have not fully addressed.

Conduct thorough market research to understand the needs and preferences of travelers.

Develop a unique value proposition that differentiates your platform from Viator.

Focus on a niche market initially to gain traction and establish a strong brand presence.

Build a user-friendly website and mobile app with an intuitive interface and seamless booking experience.

Offer competitive pricing and exclusive deals to attract users.

Ensure a wide range of offerings, including unique and local experiences that are not widely available on other platforms.

Implement a robust review and rating system to build trust and help users make informed decisions.

Create a strong social media presence to engage with your audience and build a community around your brand.

Partner with local tour operators and experience providers to offer authentic and high-quality experiences.

Invest in SEO and content marketing to increase visibility and attract organic traffic to your platform.

Provide exceptional customer service with easy access to support before, during, and after the experiences.

Implement a loyalty program to encourage repeat bookings and reward loyal customers.

Regularly gather feedback from users and providers to continuously improve the platform and offerings.

Stay adaptable and open to innovation, constantly looking for ways to enhance the user experience and stay ahead of the competition.

Successful Viator competitors

  1. GetYourGuide: GetYourGuide is a strong competitor to Viator, offering a wide range of tours, activities, and experiences around the globe. Unlike Viator, GetYourGuide tends to focus more on unique and off-the-beaten-path experiences, appealing to travelers looking for something different. Both platforms offer user reviews and ratings, but GetYourGuide often provides more personalized customer service.

  2. Airbnb Experiences: Airbnb Experiences offers a diverse array of local activities and experiences, directly competing with Viator's market. The main difference lies in Airbnb's approach to connecting travelers with local hosts, offering a more personal touch to the experiences. While Viator aggregates tours and activities from various suppliers, Airbnb Experiences emphasizes the uniqueness and authenticity of its offerings, curated by locals.

  3. Klook: Klook is a travel services and activities platform that specializes in Asia, offering a competitive edge in Asian markets compared to Viator. Klook provides a more tech-savvy booking experience with its superior mobile app, appealing to younger travelers or those who prefer booking on the go. Both Viator and Klook offer a wide range of activities, but Klook's localized content and deals in Asia often outperform Viator's offerings in the region.

  4. TripAdvisor Experiences: As a direct competitor, TripAdvisor Experiences benefits from the vast amount of user-generated content and reviews on its platform, offering a comprehensive look at tours and activities. Viator is actually owned by TripAdvisor, but the two operate somewhat independently, with TripAdvisor focusing more on user reviews to sell experiences. The overlap between the two platforms can confuse some users, but it also provides a broad market reach.

  5. Expedia Activities: Expedia Activities competes with Viator by offering a wide range of tours and activities as part of its larger travel booking platform. Expedia's strength lies in its ability to bundle activities with flights and hotels, potentially offering better deals for travelers looking to book their entire trip in one place. While Viator focuses solely on tours and activities, Expedia's broader focus can appeal to users looking for a one-stop-shop for travel planning.

Options to develop a website similar to Viator

Creating a Viator-style online marketplace from the ground up is a significant, costly endeavor. However, nowadays, there are numerous methods to construct a marketplace that don’t necessitate a large budget.

The choice you should make depends on:

  • The functionalities you believe your marketplace requires
  • Your technical abilities (or abilities present in your team)
  • Your financial plan
  • The time you have available.

The various methods to create a marketplace include:

  • Utilizing WordPress and add-ons
  • Constructing atop open-source software
  • Employing a mix of no-code instruments
  • Utilizing a specialized no-code marketplace SaaS solution
  • Developing atop an API-based marketplace SaaS solution

In addition to your limitations regarding skills and finances, you should also consider the pace of learning. Launching your Viator-style platform swiftly allows you to begin understanding your audience rapidly. These insights assist you in crafting the type of platform that users prefer over any other existing solution.

Sharetribe’s marketplace software is designed with this cyclical learning process in mind.

Initially, we assist you in launching a platform akin to Viator in one day without any programming. The construction phase is complimentary forever, and all the essential functionality is pre-configured.

After you’ve initiated, you discover what sorts of extra features and functionality your platform needs to cater to your audience. You might wish to alter the design and workflow entirely, incorporate numerous third-party services, or develop a mobile application. With Sharetribe, you can effortlessly custom-code all these modifications and much more, either on your own or with assistance from our Expert partners.

At Sharetribe, we’ve been crafting marketplaces for over a decade. Our knowledge and proficiency are at your service through our content resources, which you can access and utilize regardless of how you decide to construct your platform.

Best of fortune with your Viator-style venture!

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