TRVL.com’s tagline is “Power to the traveler!” But TICO, the Travel Industry Council of Ontario, has pulled the plug on the travel website’s peer-to-peer operations in Canada’s most populous province.
Anyone could sign up to become a “TRVL agent.” They could recommend hotels to site visitors and make bookings.
The “agents” earn up to 10% commissions on the bookings, and TRVL.com takes a cut.
But TICO requires anyone who acts as a travel seller in Ontario must be employed by or affiliated with a registered travel agency.
After receiving a warning letter from TICO, Jochem Wijnands, the site’s founder, agreed to take the site down in Ontario. Users in the province who try to access the site see this message: “Due to restrictions set by the Travel Industry Council of Ontario, TRVL is currently not available in Ontario.”
Wijnands, who also founded the app that became Apple News, said he will work to resolve the issue, but TICO seldom bends its rules.
Canada’s regulators generally have taken a dim view of so-called peer-to-peer companies.
Uber is pulling out of Quebec, the second most populous province, to avoid tougher regulations announced recently.
Airbnb was met with initial hostility but has reached agreements with municipalities in which it operates.