Notifies Operators of Experiences Re-org

The online travel agency is making shifts to how they scale Experiences supply. Finding the right approach for online tours and activities isn’t easy, even for the most successful digital travel brands.

People Biking
Reading Time: 3min 30 sec

The online travel agency is making shifts to how they scale Experiences supply. Finding the right approach for online tours and activities isn’t easy, even for the most successful digital travel brands. representatives sent letters to some tour operators and attraction partners stating that the online travel agency (OTA) is not adding more Experiences to its product set.

According to several sources, existing Experiences will continue to be available for viewing and booking, but the OTA will cease adding new products. Additionally, the commercial Experiences team will be restructured.

While we don’t know the definitive reason for this freeze, several operators indicated off the record that, while sales via Booking Experiences were growing, the OTA was still well behind other online tours and activities players.

When reached for comment, Booking said there is no change to their Experiences category.

“Nothing is changing with respect to our strategy in experiences and our commitment to the connected trip. It remains a priority investment area,” says Leslie Cafferty, SVP and head of global communications at Booking Holdings. We are making some minor shifts to our team structure internally, but this is only to help ensure our structure is right for success in the future.”

Expectations for Booking Experiences remain high because of the company’s success in online travel: Booking Holdings is the largest online seller of hotels and the largest online travel company by market capitalization. When you’re the largest, there’s real pressure to perform—and in Q3, Booking fared better than other online travel agencies. The company’s revenue for Q3 of 2019 was $5 billion, a 4% increase from the prior year, vs. just under $3.6 billion for Expedia. Despite bright Q3 earnings, Booking stock fell 8% in early November. During the same time period, the stock of competitors Expedia and TripAdvisor both fell by double digits. Booking CEO and President Glenn D. Fogel said in the Q3 earnings call the company plans to be disciplined in its pursuit of internal investments.

The news came as a surprise to some in the tours, activities and attractions industry. 

According to Christian Watts, founder and CEO of Magpie Travel, who has run hop-on hop-off bus tours in San Francisco for years, there were indications that would make some changes. “There were rumors of some changes in priorities, or perhaps a different focus,” said Watts. “I don’t think they will be pulling out of the sector entirely. My guess is that they will use their FareHarbor sales team to pivot slightly to source product for, and use the FareHarbor platform as their new CMS.”

What’s also unclear is what this means for operators hoping to get their products listed on Booking, as well as the impact, if any, on FareHarbor, the tour operator reservation system company that Booking Holdings acquired in 2018. Arival has reached out to FareHarbor for comment.

Stay tuned on as we learn more about this development. 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


already a member?

Lost your password?


Become an Arival Insider

Included in Free Membership

Included in Arival Pro Membership

The Arival on-demand video library archive
Access to the entire library of over 150 video sessions and webinars

Short, digestible research & trends reports delivering insights into our industry, such as The Tour Operator Outlook for 2021. articles
Topical articles about marketing, tech, operator business and operator stories in all areas of tours, activities & attractions & experiences

Job board access
Find a job from our regular listings, post a resume to the talent network and learn strategies from the job resources articles

New webinars
Helpful, instructional sessions covering subjects such as Mastering Facebook Ads, Grow Your Business and How To Work With OTAs — topics to help advance your business.

Discounts on all Arival in-person events
20% Discount on all Arival in-person events (save up to $300)* based on business type

Arival ProShield – Insurance program
Access to tailored insurance solutions by Granite Insurance is available exclusively for Arival Insider Pro Access Members. Insider Pro Access Members also have access to a suite of resources from Granite Insurance including templates, forms and other informative documents.

Insiders Pro Access member exclusive webinars
Paid membership-only webinars to deepen your understanding of important industry topics.

Job postings & talent directory
Post jobs & connect with candidates most applicable to your business.

Private roundtables to connect, learn and engage
Small, focused and intimate discussions exclusive to Arival Insider Pro Access members.

Full access to Arival’s library of in-depth reports
Up to date, deep analysis of tourism topics ranging from Self-guided Tours to Sales & Distribution Trends and Outlooks, based on the data that defines the industry.

The latest on-demand videos
Over 350+ on-demand videos featuring hot topics in tours, activities & attractions

Insider discounts in digital marketing, tech, e-learning, and more
Save money on additional tools, services and learnings you need to run your business. Exclusive to paid members.

Membership Overview

At Arival, we believe travel can make the world a better place. Our mission is to establish and inspire a diverse community of individuals and companies in the In-destination Industry by providing opportunities to gain insight, share knowledge and build connections. To make it possible for true collaboration, creativity, innovation, and idea exchange to thrive, we are committed to facilitating a welcoming and respectful community for all. This Conference Code of Conduct shares our community expectations and applies to all attendees, employees, exhibitors, speakers, sponsors, volunteers, and other participants at Arival- produced and sponsored events. We empower all participants in our community to actively engage in creating a friendly, inclusive and safe environment for all.

Arival’s core values include the following, and create an expectation for conduct at our events and in online community spaces:

We demonstrate a deep respect for human beings inside and outside our company and for the communities in which they live.
We value integrity and strive to consistently interact with others in ways that are authentic, ethical, and fair.
We are dedicated to transparency, committing to clear, open and honest communication.
We actively pursue and advocate for inclusion, diversity and representation of varying cultural backgrounds, perspectives and ideas

Arival welcomes people from all cultural backgrounds, and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, gender (including pregnancy, perceived pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related medical conditions), gender identity, religion (including religious dress and grooming), marital status, domestic partner status, genetic information, age, national origin or ancestry, military or veteran status, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or any other basis protected by federal, state, or local laws.

Accordingly, participants must refrain from displaying any demeaning, harassing, aggressive, or intimidating behavior or materials that would interfere with others’ experience and participation in our community.

If you witness or are subjected to inappropriate or disruptive behavior or have any other concerns, notify an Arival staff member as soon as possible.

Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will not be tolerated. Arival reserves the right to refuse entry to or remove any party from any event or community space at any time when participation or behavior create a disruption or hinder the event or enjoyment of the event by other participants. All determinations are at the sole discretion of Arival, and the decision of the Arival team will be final. Severe breaches of this Conference Code of Conduct may result in disqualification from participating in future events. Individuals expelled due to violating this Conference Code of Conduct will not be eligible for a refund or other consolation.

If you have questions regarding this Conference Code of Conduct or its implementation, please contact us at [email protected].