Financially speaking, the loss of the ARC MarketPlace -- a
web portal where agents can book commissionable products like tours and activities
-- is "not a big deal" for ARC, according to Doug Mangold, vice
president of product.
But it does mark the loss of a tool ARC used to reach out to
the agency community.
"We think it was really important for ARC as we
transformed the brand and our relationship with travel agencies," Mangold
"It's sad to see that it's come to this place,
especially when it was doing so well and was continuing to grow and continuing
to strengthen the relationships we had with travel agencies."
ARC said last week that MarketPlace will cease operations on
Dec. 29 after TripAdvisor-owned Viator terminated its partnership with ARC
after nearly 11 years.
While MarketPlace did have inventory from other sources, "the
bulk of the product came through the content provided by Viator," Mangold
In a statement, TripAdvisor communications director Laurel
Greatrix said Viator has had a good partnership with ARC over the years, "and
we're thankful for their business," but agents "deserve direct access
to our business and a platform designed specifically for their needs."
Last month, Viator launched a booking platform for
independent agents and host agencies, the Travel Agent Program; agents earn 8%
commission on bookings made through the program.
Commissions on Viator products ranged from 6% to 10% through
MarketPlace, according to Mangold. In recent years, the platform had around
8,300 agents using it, compared with several hundred when it was launched in
March 2007, and it has continued to grow.
"In 2015-2016 we had over 20% growth," Mangold
said. "We were on track for something similar with the product this year."
While he declined to provide the number of bookings made
through MarketPlace on a monthly or annual basis, Mangold did say, "We
were really happy with it," and MarketPlace was "one of our more
heavily used products."
He added, "It was still growing even after 10 years,
and it was one of our better success stories."
Right now, ARC does not have plans to reopen MarketPlace
with other supplier partners. The corporation is focused on data-driven
initiatives and will remain so in the short term, but Mangold said ARC wouldn't
totally rule out the possibility down the road.
"Our focus right now is on those [initiatives] and
helping customers that have used MarketPlace to find the right supplier for
them to migrate their business to," he said.
He encouraged agents to be selective in finding a new
supplier who would subscribe to the same philosophy as ARC, saying, "We
will never look to try to reach the end customer. We always believe that it's
the travel agency that can best support that customer."
Commissions will be paid on all MarketPlace bookings until
operations cease. As usual, agents will receive their commissions once the tour
or activity they booked is used by their client. Once MarketPlace shuts down,
ARC's Customer Care Center will assist agents with questions; the care center
is also taking agents' questions at (855) 816-8003.
MarketPlace was one of the first projects Mangold worked on
when he joined ARC nearly 12 years ago.
"It's unfortunate, but we'll always look to see how we
can stay engaged with travel agencies," he said of closing the product. "We
work with them day in and day out through our core business, through our data
products and through our service products. They are always going to be
important to us."