WINNERS ANNOUNCED: The Arival & TourReview Spotlight Awards

The results are in! Learn more about the awards and see the complete list of winners in each category here

And the award goes to… The results are in for the inaugural Arival & TourReview Spotlight Awards, and we’re excited to announce the winners for each category! 

We awarded a number of well-deserving companies (and one rock*) for two main review types: 

  • The Arival TourReview Spotlight Awards are regional awards, with the North America-based winners selected through a data-driven, independent and impartial analysis of customer reviews powered by review management platform TourReview (Skip to the Arival TourReview Spotlight Award winners here). 
  • The Arival Spotlight Awards, are global awards, with the winners selected from nominations by a panel of experienced and impartial judges (Skip to the Arival Spotlight Award winners here)

The winners were announced at Arival 360 | Orlando, in a special award ceremony on Tuesday, October 10th, 2023. Meet the winners below!

But first, an honorable mention…

Bell Rock, Arizona

*In the initial round of Arival TourReview Spotlight Award finalists, we were all amused to discover that this Rock had slipped through our methodology. While it is inarguably a great rock (the reviews don’t lie!) we decided to instead offer the Rock an honorable mention and save that finalist slot for a real live operator. 

Congratulations to all the winners!

Arival TourReview Spotlight Awards: Winners

The Arival TourReview Spotlight Awards includes five categories, with three awards per category based on company size. Company size was determined by number of reviews during the one-year period from August 1, 2022 to July 31, 2023:

  • Small: 250-1,000 reviews 
  • Medium: 1,001-5,000 reviews
  • Large: more than 5,000 reviews

The winners were chosen through a data-driven, independent and impartial analysis of customer reviews across multiple major review sites, online travel agencies (OTAs) and millions of customer reviews, powered by review management platform TourReview. Learn more about the methodology here and see the complete list of finalists here.

Sightseeing Tours Award Winners

This category includes companies that run tours within a city or destination with a primary emphasis on sightseeing, such as walking tours, urban cycling and hiking tours, segway tours, local driving or bus tours and city cruises or boat tours where the primary purpose is sightseeing.

Small Operator WinnerMedium Operator WinnerLarge Operator Winner
SF ExcursionsAdventure Tours in MotionAustin Detours

See the complete list of Sightseeing Tours Award finalists here

Culinary Tours & Experiences Award Winners

This category includes companies offering experiences with a primary focus on food and/or beverages, such as food tours, tasting experiences, brewery tours, winery tours and cooking experiences. 

Small Operator WinnerMedium Operator WinnerLarge Operator Winner
Taste San Diego Food ToursKey West Food ToursVallarta Food Tours

See the complete list of Culinary Tours & Experiences Award finalists here

Adventure Tours & Activities Award Winners

This category includes companies offering experiences with a focus on active outdoor adventure activities. This includes water sports and rentals,  hiking, kayaking, rafting, off-roading, whale watching, hot air ballooning, and a range of water- and land-based adventure tours.

Small Operator WinnerMedium Operator WinnerLarge Operator Winner
Laguna Adventures BacalarKanab Tour CompanyCharleston Outdoor Adventures

See the complete list of Adventure Tours & Activities Award finalists here

Visitor Attraction Award Winners

This category is for ticketed attractions both private and public, including amusement parks, museums, observation decks, landmarks and monuments, zoos and aquariums.

Small Attraction WinnerMedium Attraction WinnerLarge Attraction Winner
Capital Prize Gold Mine ToursSafari Zoological ParkThe National 9/11 Memorial & Museum

See the complete list of Visitor Attraction Award finalists here

Day Tours & Excursions Award Winners

This category is for companies offering day tours & excursions which include transportation to destinations primarily outside of the city, such as by bus or boat.

Small Operator WinnerMedium Operator WinnerLarge Operator Winner
Beyond Skagway Tours – Private ToursKailani Tours HawaiiRoyal Star Hawaii Deluxe Tours

See the complete list of Day Tours & Excursions Award finalists here

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Arival Spotlight Awards: Winners

The inaugural edition of the Arival Spotlight Awards includes six categories, which honor tour operators, activities providers, experience creators, and the companies that support them, who reflect the growing innovation, creativity, diversity, specialization and technology within the in-destination experiences industry. 

Learn more about the awards here, meet the judges here and see the complete list of finalists here.

Tour Innovator Award Winner: Spinach Tours

This category honors tour operators that demonstrate innovative approaches, offer creative itineraries, or have designed unique travel experiences that set them apart from traditional offerings.

Spinach Tours is a one-year-old startup from Portugal that offers self-drive tours in its electric vehicles, along with a technology platform that enables personalized experiences and gamification. Judges appreciated the commitment to sustainability, the choose your own adventure style itineraries, and the effort put into giving the car itself a personality. 

Spinach Tours on the road

See the complete list of Tour Innovator Award finalists here

Attraction Innovator Award Winner: Edge NYC

This category honors attraction operators who demonstrate innovative approaches, creative design, or unique experience offerings that set them apart from traditional offerings.

Edge NYC by Hudson Yards Experiences is an observation deck that aims to be more than just that, with year-round events and experiences focused on social shareability, such as their “Sky Bloom” immersive experience. Judges noted how Edge NYC has found a way to stand out in the competitive environment of New York City, with multiple other observation decks and myriad attractions, by using creative concepts to engage with customers in a modern way and bring their experiences to life.  

Sky Bloom at Edge NYC | Image provided by Edge NYC / Viktor&Rolf

See the complete list of Attraction Innovator Award finalists here

Tech Trailblazer Award Winner: Seattle Ballooning

This category recognizes tour operators that have demonstrated exceptional innovation and integration of technology within their operations to enhance the traveler experience, streamline processes, and introduce cutting-edge solutions in the travel industry.

Seattle Ballooning offers hot air balloon rides in Seattle, WA. They built their own chatbot to respond to customer queries and were quick to jump on board with AI and integrate it into multiple aspects of their company, from operations to back office processes to optimizing conversion rates. Judges were impressed by their early and effective adoption of a range of emerging technologies, including but not limited to AI. 

See the complete list of Tech Trailblazer Award finalists here

Inclusive Operator Award Winner: The Flying Bike

This category recognizes tour operators that have demonstrated exceptional commitment to inclusivity and accessibility, going above and beyond to ensure that their travel experiences are accessible and welcoming in to individuals of diverse backgrounds, abilities, and needs.

The Flying Bike is an electric bike tour company based in Asheville, NC, with a focus on accessibility and inclusivity. They actively hire diverse staff and encourage staff to share their own stories from their BIPOC, immigrant and LGBTQIA+ communities as part of their tours. Judges noted their commitment to accessibility as a core value illustrated by initiatives such as an adaptive bike campaign, the importance of inclusive storytelling, and their success at addressing numerous diversity dimensions in an impactful way. 

Flying Bikers out for a birthday ride | Image provided by The Flying Bike

See the complete list of Inclusive Operator Award finalists here

Community Engagement / Social Purpose Award Winners: Phare, The Cambodian Circus & The Blue Yonder

This category acknowledges tour operators that actively engage with local communities, supporting local economies, empowering residents, and promoting cultural exchange. For this category, two companies tied for the top spot so we are delighted to present an award to both of them!

Phare, The Cambodian Circus is a circus attraction and social enterprise based in Cambodia. The circus was originally founded to employ graduates of a non-profit school founded for refugees of the Khmer Rouge war. 100% of the circus revenue goes directly into operations and supporting social causes such as the school. Judges also appreciated how the organization empowers youth and models responsible tourism while offering travelers an authentic experience of the area. 

The Blue Yonder is a tour company and social enterprise founded in Kerala, India. They are focused on offering experiences that immerse travelers in local communities, and contribute to local economies and the climate resilience of destinations. Judges appreciated how The Blue Yonder is pushing the envelope on what sustainable practices in tourism should look like, how the experiences enable travelers to be immersed in and have a positive impact on local communities, and the thought given to scaling their initiatives across destinations. 

 

“Dinner on Chinese Fishing Nets” is a “climate resilient” experience offered by The Blue Yonder

See the complete list of Community Engagement / Social Purpose Award finalists here

Industry Advancement Champion Award Winner: Satisfi Labs

This category recognizes non-operator companies* that are integral to the advancement of the In-destination Experiences industry through their support, advocacy, tools and technology for Operators of tours, activities, attractions and experiences. 

Satisfi Labs, based in Florida in the U.S., has developed a conversational AI chat technology with the tourism industry in mind, in particular attractions. Judges noted how the technology is a strong use case for generative AI, and demonstrates good value in providing support to customers for questions and needs outside of revenue driving exercises.  

See the complete list of Industry Advancement Champion Award finalists here

The Arival TourReview Awards at Arival 360 | Berlin 

While the Arival TourReview awards presented in Orlando are based on North American customer data (including Canada, U.S. and Mexico), we plan to present awards for other regional markets as well, starting with Europe at Arival 360 | Berlin in March 2024.

The Arival Spotlight Awards are global awards, and will next be presented at Arival in October 2024 — stay tuned for more details.

Congratulations to all the winners!

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