Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Start-ups are transforming the way people choose their vacation activities

Start-ups are jumping into the tours and activities scene and creating innovative new ways to connect consumers with inventory finds EyeforTravel’s new the Changing Face of Tours and Activities report.

A variety of start-ups have moved in to the tours and activities to capitalize on the fastest growing sector in travel, opening up new experiences for consumers and ways for them to purchase their vacation’s activities. EyeforTravel’s the Changing Face of Tours and Activities report, which is free to download now, has identified start-ups as key to understanding the development of the tours and activities market as they are innovating across the entire supply chain and broadening access to the sector.

Core to all of their businesses is the development of cheaper technology. Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and cloud computing are allowing suppliers and vendors to sync up and distribute inventory, and start-ups are aiming to make this as easy as possible. Tours and activities suppliers can now independently upload their inventory to a variety of start-up services, such as Bokun or GetYourGuide, or they can work with other that provide them with templates to allow them sell online, such as TrekkSoft. These start-ups are then marketing tours and activities suppliers’ services across their own and thousands of third-party partners and interfacing directly with the suppliers’ reservation systems to make the process as smooth as possible. 

The upshot of this is it is allowing the sector to be brought into the digital age and giving consumers access to tours and activities that just five years ago would have been impossible. Consumers can now both book far in advance online from centralised databases of inventory and also use their smartphones to make reservations as they travel. They are also far better armed with information, for example Arrivedo aims to create neighborhood guides and use these to link together tours and activities, hotels and consumers.

Erik Tengen, Co-founder, Oaky App believes one day we could see a single platform capable of handling all activity bookings. “Traditionally offline-oriented people are making the shift towards online. And because of the growth in API possibilities, we're likely to soon get a market where people book all their activities on one platform,” he says.

This is not only to the benefit of the consumer, who has more choice, more personalized packages, and ways to plan and pay, but also travel brands across all verticals. “Think about the following: without technology, a personalized tour desk could only be available in the biggest hotels. Now, with technology, virtual and personalized desks could be in the smartphone of any user when reaching any hotel lobby, despite the size of the hotel,” says Alonso Franco, CEO and Co-founder of Arrivedo. Whereas previously, huge resources would be needed to put in place a distribution system for this most diverse sector of the travel industry, now even the smallest players can jump in to tours and activities.

Not only have start-ups helped to digitalize inventory, but they are also now the power behind the throne to several of the internet’s largest online travel companies. For example, Bokun teamed up with Expedia Local Expert at the end of 2016 with the aim of streamlining the booking process for tours and activities. GetYourGuide has integrated with Booking.com and lists its tours inventory via KAYAK’s dedicated tours and activities product and has recently partnered with EasyJet to offer tours and activities direct to the airline’s customers. TourRadar has been working with Amadeus since 2015 and TrekkSoft works with Viator.

Tours and activities start-ups are therefore becoming a key piece of the travel industry and everyone should keep an eye on who becomes the next big thing.

  • The current state of the tours and activities market.
  • The technical challenges of incorporating tours and activities into a digital travel product.
  • New start-ups and disruptors.
  • How OTAs, hotels, and airlines are including tours and activities.
  • Technology and how it is shaping the future of this market.