Viator is a global travel booking website that lets users plan a variety of popular tours, attractions, and experiences.
Viator is part of Tripadvisor, Inc. which has used their considerable resources to build a large marketplace that pairs travelers with tour operators and ticket sellers.
How Does Viator Work?
Much like booking a trip through TripAdvisor, Viator lets users price select from trips in a large number of popular global destinations.
Viator trips include:
- Walking tours
- Site visits
- Day trips
- Boat Cruises
- Snorkel trips
- And more
For travelers, Viator.com offers numerous ways to customize searches and also offers curated itineraries based on your profile and interests.
The company advertises flexible bookings, allowing travelers to make last minute changes.
For tour operators, Viator provides a providing a marketing and sales platform and access to their booking platform, making it easier for small tour operators to advertise and grow their business.
Viator also provides services for travel agents, allowing them to market and sell the tours available on the marketplace.
The platform allows customers to publicly review the tours and experiences on Viator.com, similar to how it works on TripAdvisor
This transparency should, in theory, incentivize all parties to strive to provide and recommend the best services for travelers.
Managing and Canceling Reservations
Each tour page will have an 'Overview' and a 'What to Expect' section that should give you a a sample itinerary, time management info, and a good idea about how to prepare for your excursion.
Since popular destinations will have multiple tour options, it’s important to carefully read through the details to make sure you book the option that best meets your needs.
Viator states that most tour options will allow you to make changes to your booking up to 24 hours before the tour. It's up to you to verify this ahead of time by reading the 'Terms and Conditions' of any option you book.
Further, each tour will have a 'Cancellation Policy' section which you should check before booking. Activities have several types of cancellation policies.
- Free Cancellation - In most cases if you cancel at least 24 hours before start time you should qualify for a refund.
- Moderate - You have to cancel at least 4 full days before the experience's start time to be eligible for a refund.
- Strict - For a full refund, you must cancel at least 7 full days before start time. For a 50% refund, you must cancel 3-6 full days ahead of start time.
Keep in mind that these cut off times are based on the local time of the destination. Modifying or cancelling can be done from your account on Viator.com under the 'Cancel Booking' tab.
While Viator does advertise flexibility, it’s best practice to book activities and tours ahead of time as not all options will be available last minute.
Address: 400 1st Avenue, Needham, MA 02494
Phone number: +1 (888) 651-9785
Email: [email protected]
You can also use Viator's online help center to get answers to common questions regarding the use of the site or booking issues.
Viator Customer Reviews
Viator has mixed user feedback with a large number of negative reviews.
Obviously a company overseeing hundreds of thousands of global transactions is bound to generate at least some customer complaints. We've noticed a few common complaints.
- Miscommunications with tour operators resulting in missed/canceled/unsatisfactory experiences.
- Issues attempting refunds, when accidentally booking non-refundable products or after problematic tours
- General customer service issues
Viator does has an A+ rating with the BBB and their customer service reps routinely respond to complaints filed on that platform and offer to issue refunds.
Viator also receives many positive reviews from customers who appreciated the ease with which they were able to book international experiences.
Competitors and Alternatives
There are a large number of online tour companies that provide specific bookings, however there aren't many robust platforms like Viator.com.
Some other major brands that offer tour packages include Go Ahead Tours and Collette Tours.
Another alternative is to explore the recommendations found in your favorite travel guide books, travel magazines, or from local travel writers as those are usually well vetted.
Is Viator Legit?
While Viator is a legitimate company backed by publicly traded Tripadvisor Inc, the question remains whether Viator is actually a good company.
Overall, we believe there are pros and cons to using Viator.
By searching online you can get a clear idea of what the market rates are for certain activities and also have the convenience of price matching and reading reviews from other customers.
You can also communicate directly with the tour operator and find out the information you need to know ahead of time.
Viator provides a platform to cancel or rebook your tour if your plans change (depending of the tour operators terms).
The risk with using Viator is that you are adding an extra layer between you and the service provider. In most cases this isn’t an issue but, as many of the complaints can attest, failed communication can result in a ruined trip.
The best thing you can do is choose highly rated experiences and thoroughly read their negative reviews. From those instances you can narrow down the issues to be aware of and hopefully take preemptive measures to ensure a smooth experience.
This can be as simple as messaging the operator ahead of time, asking questions, and making your needs known.
Ultimately it’s a personal decision whether to rely on a third party for your vacation bookings or take matters into your own hands at location or ahead of time.
If you have any experience with Viator or their services, please leave your reviews below.
Viator Customer Reviews
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No Refunds for cancellations in Paris
Deserves no stars. Shoddy and unhelpful when things need sorting out
If I could give zero stars I would. My wife purchased a ticket for the VIP experience at Universal Studios Hollywood for our trip in June. I went to purchase the same tour and time however when I got to the payment page to confirm the booking the site came up with an error and wouldn't allow me to make payment and when I went back on to try again the tour time which I had selected had gone.
My wife's booking had gone through without a problem. I contacted Viator initially through live chat and was on for an hour only to be told that nothing could be done as the 'all sales were final'. I explained that I only wanted for my wife to be rebooked on another tour time so that I could purchase a ticket for the same time and said that the site had crashed when I got to the payment page and that tour time she selected was available at that time but not when I went back on and there was no point us having two separate tour times but I was told there was nothing they could do.
I then telephoned to speak with someone but yet again Viator staff hide behind policies with absolutely no flexibility even though £350 had just been paid for the ticket. I was told that it would be escalated to the dept who deals with tickets and my wife would hear back via email as she had booked the ticket but I got the impression this was simply to fob me off.
When she did hear back it was tough luck basically, nothing they could do and yet again it was repeating the policy. I made another call to them next day and after speaking with someone who initially I thought was going to resolve the matter, it turned out he didn't really understand what I was trying to do and in the end it was simply a repeat of their policy of no refunds (not that I was actually after a refund).
I asked to be put through to escalations only to be told that there wasn't such a department so someone was telling lies. There was no willingness to sort this issue out, no empathy for the problem and it was just getting fobbed off and quoting policy. The customer service in this company is an utter disgrace and I would not be buying from them again.
All well and good if you never need to contact them but seriously beware that they will not deal with your issue and will show no flexibility to their conditions. All sales are final is a complete con and something I'd expect from a dodgy ticket seller but not a supposed legitimate company. The distance selling regulations clearly don't apply to them.
Fortunately I did in the end manage to find another company (Attraction Tickets) who had the same time slot available. Be warned and expect nothing if you ever are in the unfortunate position of contacting them after purchase and make sure you read the fine print.
We missed the Miraflores Locks
Viator refused to refund our money after cancelling our tour. I booked tickets Dec 2022 for Frida Kahlo Museum through trip advisors. Viator is the main company and the tour operator was Frida Tours 2022.
They send you confirmation of the purchase but not the tickets. I wrote to the tour operator via text on Facebook...the only way I could figure out how to contact them. We had a few conversations because I wanted to know how and when they would send the tickets and they kept giving me very vague answers.
Then they told me that if I wasn't comfortable with their practice I could cancel. When I told them I didn't want to cancel they went ahead and cancelled me anyway and told me I would get a refund. I went ahead and booked new tickets from viator through a different operator and they sent the tickets to us within days.
About 4 days before the tour, the original booking that I thought was cancelled sent me the tickets. So I ended up paying for both tickets that I did not need. PayPal refused to refund my money even though I sent them the screen shot of our text conversation and all the documentation.
Unfortunately for some tours viator is the only choice. Just book with a credit card instead of PayPal if you need to get your money back for any reason when dealing with these guys.
Stiffed by Viator
After repeated attempts to have my money refunded due to Viator not showing up for my Tour in Rome , Viator still refuses to make things right. They have my $500+ , and I only received a partial tour, due to them failing to show.
I have used Viator a lot in the past - never again
Avoid like the plague
Disgrace of a company. take your money change the pick up and do not let you acknowledge that you now this. they did not pick me up and then did not answer the numerous calls I made. no refunds and then some BS when you finally get through to them to speak they think you are making a claim.
Tickets with no value
Booked a number of tours in and around a river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest. Tickets were rejected by tour operators at two out of four attractions in Singapore. I have been denied refunds. The other two had no facility to contact the tour operator. With the help of the concierges at Furama City Hotel managed to eventually contact tour operator 15 minutes after the tour had started.
Do not use this company. It is far easier to use the free wi-fi at the attractions and download your tickets to your phone or use the bar codes in several of the tourist booklets which offer substantial discounts.
UNRELIABLE OR DISHONEST
Avoid 3rd party booking companies!
Viator is a 3rd party company and anyone booking with them will be confused, and lost in a mess of information.
You get no good info on the actual company you booked with. If you call their customer service, they are based in the Philippines. The staff knows nothing about anything.
The worst thing you can do in the travel industry is book through a 3rd party company like this crappy corporation.
The wise thing to do is, find an activity you see on Viator’s sight that you’re interested in, then go to the actual company’s website and book direct. Or at least, book through concierge at your hotel. Judge from all these bad reviews. Stay away from 3rd party apps like this junk.
Easy to use, on the pricier side, and now can't even get a proper tax receipt for the tours
Good selection and easy to search. Do note many of these tours are available on other sites which seem to give better pay later options. The main issue I have with this as a site is that having taken tours with them and now returned home, it has been impossible to get a tax or proper receipt for the tours we booked. I tried their online help, their customer service, seems now we have been, paid and completed our trips, the care factor has waned. Being told to refer to the booking is not providing a tax receipt. It is not even like there is a link to download the receipt from the booking."
DO NOT BOOK - they scam customers
Do not book through viator or Tripadvisor
Viator is not reliable and will not guarantee that your booking will always provide you with the services you want. Book directly through the service provider. Viator is a ticket seller and they make lots of errors.
Snippy Customer "Service" and Crickets from Operator
I booked several tours with Viator and with this evenings interaction will not do any tours with them EVER. I had booked a tour that I was really looking forward to, and had some questions for the tour operator. I messaged them 17 days ago. Crickets. Messaged again, and again, and one last time. Still Nothing.
At that point, after quite a bit of searching, I found a phone number that I could call. I presented this issue to the customer service rep, who proceeded to get quite snippy. When they start doing the "ma'am" thing, you know the interaction is going south. She made it sound like I was demanding contact (well I kinda was since it had been 17 days), that I was accusing her (of what I'm still not sure), and that I was being quite unreasonable.
I was calm and pleasant and not at all angry - I just wanted to see if they could make contact with the operator. Eventually, all I could finally say was "wow." I cannot believe the animosity from this woman just for questioning whether they vetted their tour operators and could guarantee their legitimacy. When I called, I just wanted help contacting this operator and had good feelings about Viator. Now? I'm just angry. Never ever do business with Viator if this is the kind of "service" they provide. BAD NEWS.
No stars would be a better option.
Middle Man With No Customer Service
This company is a fraud. They are nothing but a middle man using the cheapest sub contractor they can to eek out their profit. When something goes south, good luck. BOOK WITH ANYONE OTHER THAN THEM AND SAVE THE DISAPPOINTMENT!
Do Not Book With Viator, Go Elsewhere!
We booked two tours with Viator, one was great but on the second we were scammed by the tour operator and Viator refused to refund our payment. We supplied all the evidence and a full account of what happened but they refused to refund any of our money. If you read other reviews you will see similar stories where Viator refuse to refund tourists that have been scammed. This event put a complete downer on our last day in Rome. Save yourself the trouble and go elsewhere.
CONCUR, low ball middle men. Go to the actual tour operator.
Truly the worst experience ever - a complete scam. We had to dispute charges for the (non-existent) tour through our credit card company. We’ve done tours with other guides and companies all over the world and never had a problem. AVOID AT ALL COSTS!
Avoid Viator at all cost!!!
I would avoid Viator at all costs. We booked ground transportation between Rome's Fiumicino airport and the Civitavecchia cruise port several months ago. They failed to pick us up and the number we called was disconnected. We were billed for the service that they never showed up for and we were stuck having to find a taxi to take us on the 45 minute trip. To make matters worse they were supposed to pick us up from the cruise terminal and take us back to the airport and again they never showed up and we were billed for the service. We had to pay over 300 USD to take a private taxi back to the airport or miss our flight. I will NEVER use Viator again!!!
I will never use them again as well. Sadly I did not check the reviews first!
They left us stranded, well, their cheap subcontractor did, and then they accepted no liability. BOOK WITH ANYONE OTHER THAN THEM!