Visitor Attractions See 5 Years of Online Growth in 18 Months

The pandemic has rapidly accelerated online booking in a sector long a laggard when it comes to digital ticketing

Reading Time: 2 minutes 53 seconds

Visitor attractions — including cultural sites and monuments, museums, zoos and aquariums, amusement parks, and observation decks — have experienced a surge in growth of online booking channels. Nearly half of travelers who have or intend to visit an attraction on a trip in 2021 will purchase their tickets online, either through the website of an attraction or an online reseller such as an online travel agency (OTA). 

The shift from offline to online booking channels reflects the remarkable shift in how travelers are planning and booking their in-destination experiences. Just 28% of travelers booked their attraction tickets online prior to the pandemic. This has grown to 47% of travelers in 2021, while offline booking methods have all fallen. Two of the traditionally most important channels — attraction ticket office and call centers — have fallen by 20 percentage points combined. 

Visitor Attractions See 5 Years of Online Growth in 18 Months Arival Douglas Quinby

The research is based on a new Arival survey, in partnership with Go City, of 1,000 U.S. travelers on their planned or intended travel between July 2021 and June 2022. 

Two pandemic-related trends have driven the shift of travelers to planning further in advance and online: traveler questions such as whether visitor attractions are open, or what the health and safety policies are in place. The second driver has been local regulations on capacity limits and social distancing, which compelled many attractions to implement or require the advanced purchase of tickets. 

Advantage: Attraction Websites


Price: $189.00

Included in your membership

This Arival report gives an overview of the multi-day tour marketplace, covering market size and trends on product, distribution and technology


The big shift to online booking appears to have favored direct booking on attraction websites. More than half of all online bookings, 55%, said they had booked or planned to book on the attraction website, a significant shift from pre-pandemic behavior. Mobile phone bookings have also risen considerably, from 8% in 2019 to one in five travelers in 2021. 

Will It Continue or Revert?

Visitor Attractions See 5 Years of Online Growth in 18 Months Arival Douglas Quinby
Travelers may prefer to book online and in advance, but also like flexibility — Matt Bowden / Unsplash

A key question facing attraction operators and ticket resellers is how will this evolve as the pandemic recedes? Attraction tickets have long been something that travelers booked last minute, typically in destination, often by just walking up to the ticket window on the day of the visit. 

While much uncertainty remains as the U.S. continues to struggle with the pandemic, there are two factors for attractions to consider:

  1. There are clear business benefits to having more bookings come in advance and online; 
  2. While many travelers prefer to book online and in advance, they also place a high priority on flexibility around attractions and activities in destination.

The past 18 months have brought about a sea change in planning and booking behavior, and most travelers are now booking activities well in advance. Attractions must prioritize creating an easy, compelling digital experience or risk losing those new-found digital gains to OTAs, especially as international travel resumes. But they must also recognize the demand among travelers to have the flexibility to make last-minute decisions about their travel. 

Get the Full Paper — It’s Short and Free

Arival’s Attractions Revisited: How Visitor Attractions Can Adapt to the New Traveler Path to Purchase is freely available on Arival. A login or email address is not required to access the paper. 

Based on exclusive new research of 1,000 U.S. travelers on their planned or intended travel over the next 12 months, this short presentation from Arival and Go City highlights the key trends in traveler behavior and expectations for ticketed attractions. It also presents actionable recommendations that all attractions should consider as travel continues its recovery. 

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].