How to Book Outdoor Activities Online: A Simple Guide to Avoiding Scams

4 min read

Booking flights and accommodation online tend to be the first things you do when you decide where to go on your next holiday. You probably have some favorites websites for these occasions, and you turn to companies you trust and who deliver the best value for your money.

But holidays are far more than merely visiting a paradise-like destination and laying down on the sand to get a nice tan. You want adventure. You want to discover new places, to explore new things. You want to go where most people don’t. At least this is what we assume, since you have found your way to this page.

From diving, snorkeling, and surfing, to trail running, hiking, and mountain biking, plus climbing, skydiving, and paragliding – each destination has something unique to offer. But how to choose the best activities? Can you rely on organizers and guides who offer their services? What about online bookings? Are these booking platforms safe?

There are lots of questions to ask, aren’t there? Let us try to answer a few of them.

Why should I book tours/activities in advance? Can’t I simply book on the spot?

As former US president Obama would say, “Yes, we can.” In theory, we could leave all aspects of travel for the last minute. In fact, most people do hire tours on the spot. But it is a risky thing to do. You may end up standing in line, only to learn that the activity has no more places left just as you’re about to book and pay. So, if there is an activity you definitely don’t want to miss during your holiday, please, do yourself a favor and book that activity ASAP. That is, unless you enjoy the “thrill” of postponing your balloon flight, whale watching, or whatever it is you’re aiming to do.

How do I find the activities I want to do?

Having some fun on the Tour of Snaefellsnes Peninsula, the Hidden Treasure of the West, from Reykjavik / Photo via Troll Expeditions

It’s pretty common that people just google the tour or lesson they want to do, ending up with an endless list of links to dig through. Take, for example, a search for “surfing lessons in Tenerife.” Google shows you more than 219,000 results.

Obviously, you won’t check all those pages. The average person reads a maximum of five listings, and 75% of users don’t go past the first page. If a tour catches your eye, you may book it because it seems the most trustworthy. Still, unless you are very familiar with the brand or the provider, you will not be 100% sure you got a good deal.

But traveling doesn’t have to be this difficult and confusing. Knowing exactly what you want is the first and most important step. After that, you just need to know where to look for it. Fortunately, there are a few platforms that partner with the best and most reliable guides, instructors, sport centers, and schools to make your life as easy as possible. OutdoorVisit is one of those platforms, as it compiles the best adventures around and offers a clear, fast way of booking. GetYourGuide, Airbnb Experiences, Viator, and TourScanner are also good starting points for your search.

How can I trust in a certain platform?

Booking platforms typically leave a footprint behind them, so to speak. Providing bad services will not go unnoticed. This means you can search for reviews about that brand and read many opinions. The internet has never been kind to scammers. There may be plenty of lies on the web, but they rarely get very far.

Trustworthy platforms also leave a trace. People tend to review positive experiences a bit less often – and less extensively – than the negative ones, but you can still find plenty of details about the good guys as well. Start your research on the platform’s official website, where you find information about the business, and continue on to their social media channels.

Another efficient way to find out if a certain brand is knowledgeable and reliable is the Customer Service. Get in touch, ask what you want to know, and spend as much time on the phone as you feel you need. If you contact a company via Messenger, check the average response rate (you’ll find this number on the right side of the page, in or below the “About” section). And finally, once you’ve got your answers, evaluate if the provided information is useful, and if the person who answered put real effort into helping you.

When browsing the platform’s website, check if they have the activities you are looking for, read full descriptions about the products you’re interesting in, look through the photos and videos, and pay close attention to the conditions, price, availability, cancellation policy, and to what is and isn’t included in the price. The more information the site provides, the better the service tends to be, therefore minimizing the risk of disappointment.

How does the booking process work? Is it safe?

Skydiving circle above the clouds

Alright, so you did your homework and now you know the company you want to book your activity from. All of the top booking platforms tend to follow similar processes because they are the safest, easiest, and most effective. As an example, here is how the OutdoorVisit platform works:

First, find the product you want and click on the link leading to further details.
On that page, read the complete description of the tour to know exactly what the activity entails.

The page also has a “Show Dates & Book” button, and a “Book Now” button.
By clicking on either one, you are led to a page where you can select the date, time, and the number of participants.

Make sure you provide accurate contact information. The Customer Service may need to reach you regarding the confirmation, modification, or cancelation of the tour.

After that, you can click on the “Proceed to Payment” button to pay for your tour.

Once you finish filling out the form with your Credit/Debit Card details, you confirm the booking.

If the tour has instant confirmation, you will immediately be informed via email. Otherwise, you will receive an email saying your booking is awaiting confirmation. All bookings are typically confirmed within 2-3 hours, with a maximum wait of 24 hours.

Once you get your confirmation, you’re all set!

Regarding payment safety, most platforms work with extremely safe systems. On the top of that, you still have your bank’s security system, which has specifics protocols to guarantee no one abuses your credit card or bank information.

What happens if I want to/need to cancel my tour?

Even if you have your holiday perfectly planned out in an extremely organized Excel table, you never know what can happen. You may become ill, decide to meet a friend instead, or simply change your mind just one day before the activity is scheduled. Life happens, and we can’t always plan ahead.

To make your life stress-free, the best booking platforms have a standard cancelation policy. OutdoorVisit’s clients, for example, can easily cancel a booked activity with no need for further explanation. As long as it is done at the latest 24 hours before the tour starts. In some specifics cases, such as activities that demand more organization, the cancelation has to be done no later than 48 hours in advance.

We doubt that you will be booking a tour with the intention of canceling it later on. But we know it’s impossible to control what happens in life, and so we ensure a good, clear cancelation policy that gives you peace of mind. Booking with OutdoorVisit means knowing that you will not lose your money if the unexpected happens.

We hope we have answered many of your questions. If you are curious about anything else, please let us know – we intend to keep updating this page every time a new issue comes up.

And if you feel this information has been useful, please share this post with your friends. Thank you!

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