“The Future is Going to be Quite Different From the Future we had Planned”

While many operators who survived the pandemic are doing brilliantly, there are many that are not. At the same time, technological progress and customer behavior has changed significantly — “It is being rewritten right now”

Reading Time: 2 minutes 12 seconds

“I’ve got this question in my head that I just haven’t fully answered yet,” Douglas Quinby, CEO of Arival, said at the opening of Arival | Activate in Berlin. “What’s different? How have things changed? Do we just pick up where we left off two years ago? 

“We get back on the same train like the last two years never happened and we keep going? All of those futures that we had planned in 2020 — do we just resume and pick up like nothing ever changed?”

The recovery is uneven. A third of operators’ businesses have recovered to levels well above 2019. However, there are a third that are struggling and still significantly below pre-pandemic levels.

Not all Operators who Survived the Pandemic have Recovered

“The Future is Going to be Quite Different From the Future we had Planned” Ben Finch Douglas Quinby Arival
— Arival

Operators reporting their results are the ones who have survived — in the process of Arival’s research into food tour operators across the United States, we discovered that three in 10 had not yet reopened as travel recovered.

Arival 360 | SAN DIEGO 2024

30 September – 3 October 2024

Insider Pro Access Members Save 20%

THE event of the year for solutions-focused In-Destination Experience
creators and sellers

Save up to $660 with the Spring Savings ticket

Learn More

There are still many tours and activities that are not connected or using a booking system. One destination with 1,000 operators said: “15% of those experience providers are using a modern booking system,” Quinby said.

“Imagine if 15% of airlines or 15% of hotels used the central reservation system. What do you think travel would look like? I have a feeling we probably wouldn’t even be here.”

Path to Purchase Disrupted

— Arival

In the years leading up to the pandemic, travel inspiration and discovery was already changing. Previously, a traveler searched on Google, was served content on Facebook, received a few emails and visited a multitude of sites on their path to purchase.

Technology and how we communicate has changed — particularly for the young who would rather spend their time on TikTok or a private Discord server. Finding something useful on Google is becoming increasingly difficult. Search for a destination and you’ll receive thousands of brilliantly SEOd articles saying the exact same thing.

“To me,” Quinby said. “This is an indication that the future that we’re stepping into is going to be quite different from the future that we had all planned and designed for back in 2020. 

“The future of experiences, the products that we create, of content — how we communicate those experiences to travelers. The future of discovery — how travelers find you, how you find them, how you all find each other. That’s something that is being rewritten right now.”


Sign up to receive insights tailored for the in-destination industry as well as updates on Arival.

Sign Up
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.

Arival.travel 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].