May 24, 2018, by Gilad Berenstein, CEO of Utrip
When people travel, they want to have the best possible experience, and this usually means going on various tours and soaking up the sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and history of wherever they’re traveling. Now, big travel companies have set their sites on the tours and activities space, but with all the tours and activities these companies now have the ability to foist on the potential traveler, you have to ask yourself: “Now what?”
Online Sales of Tours are Increasing
It’s no secret that the online sale of tours is increasing significantly. However, it's still only a fraction of the market, and what’s more, online travel agencies are—right now, at least—not where most people are booking their tours and attractions. Instead, they are going offline, using travel agencies, supplier websites, and even concierge.
Since there is a significant untapped market of tours and attractions being booked online, it only makes sense that there are going to be more and more websites pushing travelers to book online.
Mergers and Acquisitions
And that’s exactly what the titans of travel are doing: gobbling up tour and inventory sites to grow their share of that online booking pie. Looking back into 2017 and already into 2018, there have been a number of mergers and acquisitions by travel giants of inventory and tour companies. Most notably FareHarbor was acquired by Booking Holdings and Bokun was acquired by TripAdvisor (who arguably started this movement in 2014 when they acquired Viator).
More of the big travel companies want to offer more than just airfare, hotels, and rental cars; they also want to be able to offer tours and activities. That means more packages (at discounted combined rates) for travelers, and more ancillary revenue for OTAs, airlines, and the like.
There are pros and cons to this move. The main pro is that consumers can do a one-stop travel planning session. They can book their hotel, their rental car, their airfare, and plan all of the activities that they want to do without having to go to multiple websites. However, this convenience comes at a price: it can be overwhelming for travelers because there are simply too many options in front of them.
Anxiety: The Struggle is Real
We started Utrip for one simple reason: planning a trip can be really, really hard. And stressful. And, honestly, kind of annoying (in a very first-world problem kind of way). And unless you’re the kind of person who loves to get into the nosebleed section of review and activity sites (and happens to have tons of time on their hands), it’s pretty stressful. There are too many choices and not enough time to do the research, and that usually leads to uncertainty (or, FOMO). As much as I hate bringing up a now-disused, once-sort-of-cool acronym, the principal remains: the more choices you have, the less certain you are about your choice(s) being the best option(s).
The Answer? Personalization
It’s all about surfacing good recommendations to users as unique individuals, and this is where a lot of companies getting creative (Expedia’s Local Expert, for example, has kiosks staffed by hundreds of concierges). But at Utrip, our AI-based, data-driven platform remains one of the best ways for engaging travelers looking to book that perfect experience—both online and offline booking. Utrip highlights the activities and tours that travelers would actually want to take. We offer both integrated booking experiences and all the contact information travelers need to book on the ground, saving time, reducing stress, and—most importantly—getting travelers excited to actually take their trip. Receiving recommendations instead of sorting through choices works well for everybody: it’s been shown to increase booking, and it gets travelers doing what they actually want to do.
Want to learn more about customizing the travel experience? Feel free to say hello.