The Great Tech Debate: A Roundtable with Reservations​

We’ll dive in and pull no punches as we talk tech and what it means to you with the CEOs of four reservation system companies.


Chris Atkin, CEO of Rezdy
Ruzwana Bashir, Co-Founder & CEO of Peek
Jason Morehouse, Co-founder & CEO of Checkfront
Max Valverde, CEO of FareHarbor

One of the most talked-about sessions at ARIVAL Orlando 2019 was titled the Great Tech Debate: A Roundtable with Reservations, featuring CEOs from four reservation systems.

Checkfront CEO and co-founder Jason Morehouse, FareHarbor CEO Max Valverde, Peek CEO and co-founder Ruzwana Bashir, and Rezdy CEO Chris Atkin took the stage to address important operator concerns and questions, and the future of the industry. 

A cornerstone issue centered on the question of remaining independent versus the merits of acquisition. Have the acquisitions of FareHarbor by and Bokun by TripAdvisor been good for the industry? Have these acquisitions been good for operators? 

As the only reservation company on stage owned by an OTA, FareHarbor’s Valverde was first to address this issue, saying he was most excited by’s ownership of FareHarbor because the investment was a vote of confidence in the tours, activities and attractions industry. 

“It’s a tough game to grow something really large. Eventually you need to team up with someone big who can bankroll you and take it to the next level,” said Valverde, adding that other reservation systems such as Zerve failed despite major fundraising. 

Some CEOs on stage criticized the consolidation of reservation systems. “There’s a conflict in the way it’s been aligned with the reservation systems and OTAs who are partners, and that creates confusion and some anxiety from operators,” said Checkfront’s Morehouse. “We get to set our goals based on our operators and are somewhat driven by the top-level OTA. I think there’s a conflict there that some people are uncomfortable with.” 

Peek’s Ruzwana Bashir expressed how some operators are worried OTA acquisition of reservation systems may lead to sharing data around operator customers, pricing and more. 

“The reason a lot of operators are talking about this issue is because they are concerned. They’re concerned about data and privacy, they’re concerned about the pricing power that OTAs have exerted in other industries … I think there’s deep concern from operators around the power and influence reservation systems being owned by an OTA could have, and how much your data could be utilized in the future.”

Valverde said such concerns are unfounded. 

“Honestly, this is just fear mongering,” says Valverde. “We’re at a large publicly traded company with data privacy lawyers surrounding us. Modern travel companies play together nicely … This is a vote of confidence that we’re going to be here for a long time, and Booking believes in our product roadmap.”

Valverde said operator data is not shared with 

Is Consolidation the Future?

With hundreds of reservation system options available around the world, is further consolidation inevitable? 

Peek’s Bashir guessed the future of res tech will be less consolidation, and more overall industry growth. She expressed that people coalesce around tech players who have the most scale, and who invest to create the best product possible. 

Both Morehouse and Atkin said that as the industry grows, there’s significantly more eyeballs on the tours, activities and attractions space—and there are still so many operators online. 

“We’re still very early in the game. There are plenty of exits that will develop as the market matures,” says Atkin. 

Watch the whole theater session in the video above to hear more about pricing models, advice CEOs had for operators to choose their booking tech, and important audience questions. 

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].