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Most Travelers Are Shocked: The Hidden Costs of Online Resellers


Mainstream travel websites have made travel easy to book. But the consequences of mass-market tourism affect many…including you!


Traveling is an enriching experience that allows us to explore new cultures, savor exotic cuisines, and create lifelong memories. In an increasingly connected world, online resellers have revolutionized the way we plan our trips. These platforms offer convenience and access to a vast array of options, making it easier than ever to book flights, accommodations, and activities. However, what many travelers may not realize is the significant amount of money that is retained by these online resellers instead of benefiting the local destinations they visit, or the indirect consequences of this quick and easy mass-market approach. Unknowingly, travelers with good intentions often have the opposite effect they wish to have when traveling, adding to the negatives that come with mass tourism.


Let's look at the problems we are seeing, and how we are helping to make things better.


The Commission Game

Online resellers, such as travel aggregators and booking websites, often charge a commission on every booking made through their platform. This commission can range from a few percentage points to a substantial portion of the total cost (we’re talking 20% and up to 35% or more). Unfortunately, this means that a significant chunk of the money you pay for your travel arrangements never reaches the local businesses and communities you visit.


Harsh Impact on Local Businesses

The commission-based business model of online resellers can have adverse effects on local businesses. Small hotels, guesthouses, and tour operators often bear the brunt of these costs. They are forced to lower their prices to compete with larger establishments listed on reseller platforms or lose business altogether. As a result, local entrepreneurs struggle to maintain their livelihoods, and unique, authentic experiences become harder to find.


Local Communities Get Left Out

Many popular tourist destinations around the world face economic challenges, struggling with issues like poverty, unemployment, and environmental degradation. When travelers book through online resellers, a substantial portion of their spending bypasses the local economy and fails to address these pressing issues. Not only does a large portion of traveler money get extracted in commissions to the reseller, but the decreased amount of revenue locally means less money for business to pay staff, reinvest, or even pay taxes. Entire communities are stifled and cut off from the full potential of their hard work.


Voices Are Being Removed

Mainstream resellers are algorithm driven platforms that rely on rigid standardization to function. Many even “curate” listings, which means they write travel descriptions to maximize their search engine optimization to compete with other resellers for ad space, not to share or amplify the authentic voices of the location and travel creators they resell. Furthermore, businesses with unique flair or innovative travel experiences are forced to cram their offerings into uniform boxes that comply with the reseller's marketing and upsell sequence.


We Think It's Time For An Alternative

Painted Circle is the platform that is transforming the way we travel. By facilitating direct bookings and amplifying the voices of passionate travel creators, we're empowering travelers to make a positive impact from the very beginning.


Unlike traditional resellers, Painted Circle does not charge any commissions. This means more of your travel budget stays local, supporting the people who actually deliver your services and benefiting the communities you visit.


As mindful travelers, we seek to leave a positive footprint wherever we go. With Painted Circle, you have the power to make that a reality. By choosing our platform, you become part of the solution - actively supporting local businesses, preserving cultural heritage, and fostering sustainable development.


And most importantly, we are helping travelers bring more intentionality to their adventures. We are building Painted Circle as a resource for your travel rather than a filter or selling machine. While traditional travel resellers have undoubtedly made buying travel fast and easy, they have also standardized and homogenized our travel experiences to where we are losing the uniqueness of place and the passion of diverse cultures. We are changing this, and we are glad you are along for the journey!


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