THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A SILLY QUESTION.
Got a question? We might have answered it below. Take a look at our frequently asked questions.
What is Tourism Exchange USA?
Tourism Exchange USA is a B2B digital tourism marketplace that facilitates the real-time exchange of live inventory between suppliers and distributors with secure transactions across multiple categories of tourism products (accommodations, tours, attractions, experiences, events). The Exchange is built on an existing PaaS model that has already been linked to hundreds of major domestic and international OTAs (Online Travel Agent) reservation systems and is already used by Priceline, Expedia, and TripAdvisor to source new product. Additionally, the platform has been used by more than 100 DMOs (Destination Management Organizations) globally to help develop and showcase new products, distribute destination content, and compile and capture privacy-compliant first-party data.
What is a supplier?
Any business that wants to sell its products or services through the global tourism distribution landscape is a supplier. These businesses include accommodations, tours, attractions, experiences, and events.
What is a distributor?
A participant in Tourism Exchange USA who agrees to distribute tourism products that allow consumers to directly find and book tourism products and services is a distributor. These sites include OTAs (Online Travel Agents) such as Booking.com and Expedia. In the scope of Tourism Exchange USA, distributors can also include Destination Management Organization (DMO) websites.
How does Tourism Exchange USA work?
Tourism Exchange USA is a digital platform that links live content and availability, uploaded by a supplier into a booking system (or into TxLoad), and feeds that information into a global network of distributor systems where consumer bookings take place. Suppliers manage their availability, pricing, and bookings. Distributors have access to a huge range of tourism products which they can directly sell to global consumers.
What makes Tourism Exchange USA unique?
The key elements that make Tourism Exchange USA truly unique are:
- Direct connectivity between supplier booking systems and global distributors.
- Access to a wide range of 1st party analytical data.
- The ability for distributors to run campaigns that integrate specific product groups.
- Multiple distributors from local businesses and DMOs to global tour operators, and OTAs.
Does Tourism Exchange USA handle restaurant or airline bookings?
No. Restaurants and airline tickets are not bookable through Tourism Exchange USA.
Do I need certain software or a particular browser to use Tourism Exchange USA?
No. Tourism Exchange USA is compatible with the most commonly used browsers and operating systems.
What advice and support is available?
Our Help Desk provides connection and dashboard advice, and support is available by phone or email.
For support please contact [email protected] or 1-800-348-3809.
Is there a minimum time commitment required to be able to use Tourism Exchange USA?
No. There’s no minimum time commitment.
What happens if I change my mind and want to remove myself from Tourism Exchange USA?
Just get in touch by emailing [email protected] and ask us to close your account.
What happens if a distributor changes their terms and conditions?
If a distributor makes a change to their terms and conditions, all suppliers linked to that distributor will receive an email notification alerting them to the change prior to being disconnected from that distributor. Suppliers will then need to reconnect by opting in to the distributor’s revised terms and conditions.
What is a payment gateway?
A payment gateway is the technology that processes and passes payments securely and seamlessly into your bank account.
Payment gateways use strict security criteria and must be approved and authorized before use.
Is there a transaction fee to use Tourism Exchange USA?
A small transaction fee is charged to protect against fraud and to securely process the customer’s credit card payments. Please note, customers’ credit card details are not captured, stored, held, or ‘passed on’.
Additionally, the transaction fee replaces the time and cost associated with sending emails, faxes, and internet transfers for each booking. It also reduces the cost to you since you only pay for the single transaction.
How does the customer payment model work?
You can receive payment into your bank account at the time a booking is made*.
Any booking fees and/or distributor commissions are automatically settled in the following month.
What information do I need to sign up to Tourism Exchange USA?
To join Tourism Exchange USA, first you need to determine whether you are using a booking system that is connected to the Exchange.
If the answer is YES, you are using a Tourism Exchange USA connected booking system, just follow the steps below.
If the answer is NO, you don’t have any system, a system that is not Tourism Exchange USA connected, or you are unsure, simply contact [email protected].
If you are sure you have a Tourism Exchange USA connected booking system, you will need to complete the steps below and provide the following information about your business:
Step 1: Complete the Tourism Exchange USA online application form
Step 2: Get Connected Wizard (GCW). The GCW allows self-managed Suppliers to connect with the OBX via an online sign-up process. The main steps of the wizard are:
- Choose a Booking System and then a relevant Connected Booking System
- Enter Business Details
- Agree to the Pricing and Provider Agreement
- Agree to the Debit Arrangement (commonly a Direct Debit process)
- Choose the Payment Gateway (Stripe account or a new Stripe account)
- Confirm details
Why should I connect to Tourism Exchange USA rather than work directly with distributors?
You can go directly to the distributors; however, Tourism Exchange USA allows you to access a global network of distributors in one place at the click of a button. By connecting to the Exchange, you can manage your availability, pricing, bookings, and content across multiple distribution channels and also access a wide range of analytical data.
For SMEs, getting distributed via some of the larger, or niche, distributors can be a daunting task. Tourism Exchange USA offers all the benefits as outlined above in an accessible way for businesses of all sizes.
What’s the difference between Tourism Exchange USA and a channel manager?
A channel manager usually syncs bookings and availability and won’t normally have the same capability as Tourism Exchange USA to pull content from across distributor systems.
Channel managers also typically only link to ‘on account’ distributors, rather than to direct booking websites to which the Exchange also connects.
How much does it cost to use?
What is the 3.5% booking fee used for?
The booking fee is paid directly to Tourism Exchange USA and is used for the ongoing operation, maintenance, and development of the platform.
What size business is Tourism Exchange USA designed for?
Tourism Exchange USA has been designed to support every size of tourism business, from small boutique bed & breakfasts to hotels to the biggest attractions in the country.
What if I don’t have my own website?
You don’t need a website to link to Tourism Exchange USA, but we strongly suggest that you have one. Your website is an important marketing tool – where consumers go to look, and often book. You can create booking pages for your own website from the Exchange platform once you’ve bought a domain name and done basic website design.
What if I don’t have a booking system?
If you don’t have your own booking system we can still get you up and running on the TxLoad part of the system. This allows you to upload your availability and prices manually.
We recommend that you sign up for a booking system in the future, but if you don’t have one yet TxLoad is a good starting point.
What is TxLoad?
TxLoad is a part of the Tourism Exchange USA platform designed for suppliers who don’t have a booking system. It allows you to enter your prices, availability, and content manually into the Exchange. If you also take offline bookings for your tourism product, you need to remember to update the inventory on TxLoad as any changes wouldn’t be automatically recorded in the system.
I have a booking system but it’s not showing as connected to Tourism Exchange USA. What should I do?
If your booking system hasn’t been connected to Tourism Exchange USA yet, you can use TxLoad to get connected. As soon as your booking system is connected, you’ll be able to switch to the connected booking system.
How do I get payment for bookings through Tourism Exchange USA?
For bookings made via a direct booking website, the money goes straight into your account. Distributor commissions and booking fees are automatically settled by Tourism Exchange USA in the following month.
For bookings through online travel agent (OTA) websites that use ‘on account’ payment, you’ll receive your money according to their individual processes. Tourism Exchange USA will send you an email reminding you of the booking and the need to collect payment from the OTA or agent.
How does Tourism Exchange USA handle group travel like booking a group of 50 on a tour?
The Tourism Exchange USA booking pages allow multiple tickets to be booked at once but will only allow a user to book what’s available in a supplier’s booking system.
There’s also a limit of 20 tickets per category that can be booked through the MyWebsite booking pages provided by the Exchange. For example, you can book up to 20 adult tickets, 20 child tickets, and 20 concession tickets for a total of 60 tickets. Please note, multiple bookings may be needed to reach your total.
What information do I need to connect to Tourism Exchange USA?
Rates and availability for products will be automatically loaded to Tourism Exchange USA from your connected booking system once your account is active. Depending on your booking system, some content may also flow through automatically. Information such as business description, product description, photographs, geocode information, booking terms and conditions of use can be loaded through our dashboard.
If you don’t have a booking system, or your booking system isn’t yet connected to Tourism Exchange USA then this information will need to be loaded manually into TxLoad.
Can I set up different levels of access for different users within my business?
I’m already on one or more of these distributors or a booking system that feeds into them. What now?
You can continue with your existing distributor and opt into only additional, unique distributor channels via Tourism Exchange USA. Alternatively, you can choose to stop working with that distributor directly and go through the Exchange instead.
I already work with a channel management system (for example, Siteminder). Can TXUSA link to that?
Yes. Any booking system/channel manager can request to integrate with Tourism Exchange USA as a connected booking system so that their suppliers can connect.
Why should I get connected now?
The sooner you get connected, the sooner you’ll have access to an ever-growing range of distributors who can package and sell your product globally.
The system links into live allocation – at what point does that cut off?
Live allocation is usually controlled via your own connected booking system, but you can also separately control the cut-off time for bookings before arrival for Tourism Exchange USA reservations. For example, you can choose to cut off bookings 24 hours before the check-in time.
What documentation and/or confirmation, such as vouchers or reservation numbers, is provided? How do I know what to accept?
The booking will be entered into your connected booking system, which will be the main record. In most cases, the booking system will then issue its own booking confirmation email. However, depending on the distributor channel, Tourism Exchange USA may also send a booking notification to the consumer and to you.
For OTA distributor bookings such as Booking.com, the consumer will receive their normal confirmation from the distributor.
What if there’s a no-show?
For bookings through direct distributor channels, you’ll receive payment in full at the time of booking, so there’s nothing more you need to do.
For Online Travel Agent/On Account bookings, no-shows are handled in accordance with the individual distributor’s terms and conditions.
Who sets the cancellation policy?
You set your own cancellation policy within the booking terms entered via your dashboard or booking system. This is applied to all direct bookings, and the consumer must agree to these terms before being able to confirm the booking.
For Online Travel Agent distributor bookings, the cancellation policy is set as part of the registration/setup with the specific Online Travel Agent.
What do I get back if the customer cancels?
For bookings through direct distributor channels, you’ll already have received payment in full at the time of booking. You may process a full or partial refund, or no refund at all, depending on your defined booking terms.
For bookings via Online Travel Agent Distributor channels, the funds received for a canceled booking are as per the cancellation policy you defined when signing up.
Can I be 'on request' rather than tapping into live inventory?
Yes. This is an option on the Tourism Exchange USA dashboard. It will reduce your reach and consumer appeal, but it’s an option you can use.
Why should I get connected now?
The sooner you get connected, the sooner you’ll have access to an ever-growing range of product suppliers.
Can any supplier connect, or is there quality control?
Any supplier with product can sign up to Tourism Exchange USA. All suppliers who sign up agree that their product complies with all relevant laws, regulations and legally required standards, and all regulatory guidelines and Industry Codes of Conduct in relation to the promotion and sale of tourism products.
Any supplier who has signed up can opt in to your distribution channel by agreeing to your terms and conditions. The system works off live data so all information is accurate, and there’s an option for you to approve suppliers before they go live in your system. If needed, you can also block a supplier that doesn’t meet your criteria.
What’s the difference between joining with an API or using the Exchange's white label tools?
It’s free to use Tourism Exchange USA's white label tools. Key features of connecting using these include:
- Minimal development work required.
- Fixed user experience.
- Direct payment only.
The key features of connecting with Tourism Exchange USA through an API are:
- Build your own user experience.
- Work with ‘on request’ suppliers.
- Supplier direct or ‘on account’ payment. There are some development costs to set up the API, and these are dependent on requirements.
What is Tourism Exchange USA's eXchange API?
It’s the name for the Tourism Exchange USA toolkit of APIs made available to distributors to connect their systems to supplier booking systems.
I already have some of these products for sale on my own website. How do I avoid duplication?
Only one connection can be made between a supplier and a distributor. This is controlled via the supplier’s connected booking system/channel manager or via the Tourism Exchange USA dashboard. For a direct distributor, the distributor can block a supplier via their dashboard if needed and/or liaise with the supplier to choose their connection type according to the distributor’s own policies and procedures.
What’s a campaign, and how does it work?
By creating campaigns within the distributor dashboard, distributors can define and manage the products offered to consumers for use in marketing initiatives. These campaigns are typically developed to promote tourism/bookings within the distributor’s destination. Distributors can create a marketing campaign that includes a ‘landing page’ where chosen suppliers can be efficiently and effectively presented in a list to consumers. The distributor can define which suppliers can participate and/or the exact requirements they need to meet to qualify. The landing page then links to a booking page URL where consumers can place online bookings.
How can I use the platform to distribute my products as a supplier?
If you have a booking system that acts as an aggregator to the market and would like to distribute your products through Tourism Exchange USA, please contact us for more details at [email protected] or 1-800-348-3809.
How does Tourism Exchange USA work for Destination Management Organizations?
Selling the destination is a key success factor in selling products, and destinations can use Tourism Exchange USA to become a distributor. This allows you to market all of the products within your destination and benefit from the analytical data and campaign tools the Exchange provides. However, before any sales can take place, we need to ensure the product is available on the platform. The Exchange team will be working closely with suppliers to get their products registered so please encourage your local businesses to get involved. Details on the benefits to suppliers are listed in the Supplier section of the website.
How can campaigns work for me?
You’ll be able to run campaigns through Tourism Exchange USA. For example, for your destination, you could group all garden products together and apply a price discount or just use it as a promotional grouping. Similarly, if you are promoting a touring route, the Exchange allows you to pull together all product within a set distance of that route (for example, two miles either side of a certain plotted path). There are lots of exciting possibilities to bring your destination to life online.
For answers to other questions, please browse the ‘Distributor’ FAQ section.
How much does it cost to connect with Tourism Exchange USA?
As a connected technology partner, you’ll only need to pay for the internal time and resources involved with connecting. There are no further connection costs.