The situation now, however, is that suppliers are getting distracted by the magic show and not paying enough attention to what is waiting for them if they take their eyes off the magician’s hands.
Quote from Stephen Joyce, CEO of Rezgo, in an article on PhocusWire this week.
Shaken, not stirred, by a travel sector now following a familiar pattern
The so-called sorcery that attracts suppliers across the industry to a glitzy world of additional distribution is not a new phenomenon.
As the article earlier this week suggests, hotels were lured into online travel agency distribution in their droves during the 2000s.
And that scenario, some fear, is about to befall the tours and activities sector to a greater degree than was already being played out, albeit gradually over recent years ahead of 2018's uptick of OTA-led activity.
Yet if history is a good barometer to gauge the wider impact of newer developments across the industry, perhaps it is worth stepping back for a moment and being optimistic over the fate of suppliers and their relationships with intermediaries.
The apparent "battle" by hotels, airlines and now activity suppliers face with their third party versus direct distribution often takes place in cycles.
They are wooed, often rightly, with the promise of high volumes of customers - a situation that very few providers of seats, beds, tours or attractions are not going to turn down, initially.
Commissions are a sticking point (and become more so over time) but not many suppliers want to ignore the opportunity to fill their products with people.
But then the issues arise, whether its rate parity (hotels) or merchandizing difficulties (airlines), which then inevitably lead to concerns about how many eggs the suppliers should throw into the baskets of intermediaries.
Airlines and hotels are fighting back, with varying degrees of success - NDC for the air distribution model, direct marketing, Google and metasearch for the hotels.
Over time, some argue, a happier equilibrium will be maintained.
It is far too early to predict if that same outcome will play out in a similar way in tours and activities.
The sector operates in entirely different way, is diverse in its structure and processes, and has different business models, often with tiny margins on low ticket price products.
Other elements, arguably, also need to happen first, such as some developments in standardization of products and distribution.
The fears that many have in the tours and activities sector may turn out to be true - but, equally, there is hope for those suppliers and their tech partners on the horizon, and the warnings that are circulating may be a false dawn.
Perhaps ironically, given the concerns that other sectors have in the travel industry, Google may become the knight in shining armor in this scenario, with it having the potential to side-line intermediaries over time and rescue the direct relationship efforts of suppliers.
It's not often you hear the search giant, a company well-known for having many tricks up its sleeve, playing such an important role.