Trends in fraud prevention for travel marketplaces

Thursday 11 July 2024 08:44 CET | Editor: Diana Lupuleac | Interview

Gianmichele Zappia, Head of Risk and Fraud at GetYourGuide, a leading platform to discover and book experiences, elaborates on how travel marketplaces can improve their fraud prevention strategies.


What are the latest trends in fraud prevention strategies for the travel industry? 

Over the years, we have gradually shifted from traditional rule-based risk prevention approaches to increasingly adopting supervised machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions. While ‘rules’ can help minimise sudden fraud attacks, their impact on genuine customers cannot be underestimated. Consider, for instance, traditional triangulation rules based on IP, card issuing country, and destination country. 

As many customers opt for short-term or last-minute bookings, often while on location, the likelihood that static fraud prevention rules might affect genuine customers is quite high, impacting the overall customer experience.

Behavioural analytics can also bolster fraud prevention in travel by analysing user interactions with a website or app to flag activities that deviate from the norm. This, combined with specific product restrictions (e.g., the number of tickets per tourist attraction a genuine customer should purchase in a specific location within a set time frame), enhances security.

What patterns of fraudulent activities are emerging, and how can they impact travel marketplaces?

Though flights and accommodations have been digitised for 20 years, the tours and activities space is still experiencing massive growth – our latest estimates show that only 30% of the industry is online. And the majority of the businesses in this space are small and medium businesses, with five employees or less. As one of the few pure-play experience marketplaces in the space, we, at GetYourGuide, take the responsibility of building trust with both travellers and the businesses that depend on our platform to establish, operate, and grow their businesses. As a business scales and grows, so do its fraud needs - so it's essential to grow and evolve your strategy.

Specifically, in the case of travel marketplaces, fraudsters can quickly exploit any loopholes that might result from poor integration between third-party vendors' ticket redemption systems and a marketplace booking platform. We are also witnessing an increase in call centre fraud attempts, particularly with requests to circumvent payment declines/blocks and change personal or booking details.

How does holistic risk mapping aid in identifying and mitigating potential risks within the context of a travel marketplace like GetYourGuide?

Holistic risk mapping enables merchants to identify all potential risks across the platform and throughout the customer and supplier journey, creating a comprehensive strategy to mitigate them. While in the early stages of a marketplace ‘risk’ almost exclusively equates to ‘chargebacks,’ as a company grows and gains brand recognition, the number of risky touchpoints increases – and might include account takeover (ATO), fake listings, domain fraud, phishing attempts, etc. A robust, comprehensive periodic risk assessment and the correct      understanding of a company's risk appetite are prerequisites for any effective risk management strategy.

What are some of the best practices in balancing fraud prevention measures and a convenient checkout experience?

Streamlined user verification and minimising unnecessary friction for customers are key. A one-size-fits-all decision-based approach for high-risk customers is outdated; a savvy, customer-centric approach should incorporate dynamic customer risk profiling to maximise conversion opportunities. For example, displaying only chargeback-free payment methods for customers with a medium-high probability of fraud can be effective. On the other hand, when assuming a calculated approach to ATO, the experience for returning customers should be as seamless as possible.

For this reason, fraud prevention and product development teams should avoid working in silos. I also believe that, when selecting a third-party vendor for fraud prevention purposes, one should consider not only their fraud prevention software capabilities, but also how extensive their network capabilities are, their portfolio size, and possible integrations with third-party apps.      Moreover, training for all customer-facing employees is essential.

How can fraud prevention strategies impact approval rates and key performance metrics in the travel industry?

Fraud prevention is by far the ‘hottest’ topic I see discussed among my peers – and, again, the focus may shift depending on a company's growth appetite, market positioning, and overall strategy. Small companies, especially at the beginning of their journey, might focus entirely on accelerating revenue, thus appearing naive in addressing fraud prevention and dismissive regarding potential brand damage. Later, when fraudulent chargebacks and their financial impact become more significant, they might be tempted to overcorrect, heavily impacting customer conversion. A mature company will view fraud prevention as an opportunity for growth and customer retention. Reputational risks, albeit hard to quantify, can never be underestimated, especially in the travel industry.

About Gianmichele Zappia

With almost 20 years of experience in risk and fraud prevention, Gianmichele is currently the Head of Risk and Fraud at GetYourGuide. He oversees strategy and operations for fraud within the GetYourGuide marketplace, which connects global travellers with unforgettable experiences created by local experts.

About GetYourGuide

GetYourGuide is a leading global online marketplace to discover and book experiences worth travelling for. Travellers can use GetYourGuide to find things to do in more than 10,000 cities, including tours from local experts, exclusive access to must-see attractions, as well as immersive bucket-list experiences through its Originals by GetYourGuide offering. Since being founded, the GetYourGuide platform has sold 150 million tickets from 25,000 supply partners who leverage GetYourGuide’s easy-to-use platform to grow their businesses. For more information, follow GetYourGuide on LinkedIn, Instagram, and TikTok and visit

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Keywords: fraud management, travel payments, marketplace, risk management, fraud prevention, account takeover, chargebacks, holiday fraud
Categories: Fraud & Financial Crime
Companies: GetYourGuide
Countries: World
This article is part of category

Fraud & Financial Crime


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