EBG Plots Consumer Play with Acquisition

The largely overlooked acquisition of Undercover Tourist could impact attraction ticket distribution as corporate benefits provider EBG plans B2C expansion

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The June announcement received little if any play in the travel trade press, and neither brand is a household name in travel and tourism. But they are well known to industry insiders in attraction ticket distribution.

EBG (formerly Entertainment Benefits Group), a leading provider of travel, entertainment, attraction and event tickets to corporate benefit and white label programs, acquired Undercover Tourist, a niche online travel agency (OTA) focused primarily on attraction tickets and vacations to theme parks in Florida and California.  

Why this matters:  Operators of attractions, events and activities seeking to expand their distribution should keep an eye on EBG, given its reach across B2B and corporate sales channels, as it expands its consumer reach with Undercover Tourist. 

Undercover Tourist may be a niche OTA with a narrow focus, but its role in attraction ticket distribution is not insignificant. The company has sold more than 25 million tickets since its founding in 2000, and the acquisition has not gone unnoticed in the world of theme park distribution.

EBG has a consumer business with Orlando Fun Tickets, but it is primarily known as a B2B (business-to-business) distributor with its TicketsatWork brand. The company says it services more than 40,000 corporations through its various benefits programs. This acquisition signals EBG’s plan to become a bigger player in B2C (business-to-consumer) attraction and entertainment distribution. 

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“The opportunity is to expand the platform, and add sports, concerts and other tickets that [Undercover Tourist] hasn’t sold in the past,” said Stephanie Baker, EBG’s chief operating officer. She added that they will expand destination coverage as well beyond the two dozen or so U.S. cities currently offered on the site. 

“Our goal is for Undercover Tourist to become the number one source for attractions in the U.S.,” Baker said. 

Undercover Tourist sets itself apart by focusing on theme park vacations, according to founder and CEO Ian Ford. The site provides travelers with a range of editorial content and customer service to help them with the often complex process of choosing the right combination of park tickets for their trips. 

Attraction ticket distribution continues to be a challenge among travel resellers. A lack of connectivity and technology standards and wide variety of ticket types and rules and conditions complicate third-party distribution. Recent research from Arival indicates that many visitor attractions do not have direct connections to third-party distributors and are dissatisfied with their ticketing technology. 

Undercover Tourist’s Ford is moving over to head innovation and development at EBG Labs, a new unit within the group. Jennifer Alley,  chief commercial officer at Undercover Tourist, will continue to run the business as the new general manager.

Join us at Arival 360 | Las Vegas in October, featuring the Arival Attractions Forum and a series of in-depth sessions on the future of attraction distribution.

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