Online booking of tours, activities and attractions is rapidly accelerating, and underpinning this is software that can serve the rising tide of travelers who want to book experiences online—and want to book them now.
We caught up with CC Chan, CEO and founder of GlobalTix, which offers reservation and distribution technology in the Asia Pacific region, to get his thoughts on how tech is advancing operators and end-consumers alike—and what the future of online booking could look like.
What have the most important travel technology innovations been in the past two years?
It’s probably not so much of innovation, but one of a landscape change. It’s the availability of mobile and cheap overseas data plans. This “technology” opens up an immense amount of opportunities in in-destination products. With data, people are surfing the web when they are in their destination country, searching for what’s good to eat, where to play and what to experience. It allows us to engage our customers while they are in-destination. There are also opportunities for us to know their location, to up-sell, or simply to communicate with them.
What is the biggest growth barrier for owners of tours, activities and attractions?
The biggest challenge to owners today is catering to a highly fragmented customer base, ranging from fully independent travelers, group travelers, luxury versus budget travelers and country-specific requests. The challenge is also serving the needs of instant gratification, such as ease of delivering information, instant confirmation and convenience.
In order to cater to this, the solution is technology adoption. Adopting technology allows owners to reach out to their customers and customize specific products and programs for the diverse requirements. Technology is key to stay relevant.
How are travelers booking tours, activities and attractions differently today than they did in the past?
They’re booking via mobile phone, only when they are in their destination. Travelers also want instant confirmation.
What does the landscape of reservation and ticketing technology look like in the future?
We should look at the hotel industry to give us some clues to what the future looks like. Almost no hotels build their own reservation systems. Everyone is using some form of off-the-shelf technology with customizations, and link to one of the global distribution systems. Attraction channel managers are going to be common as well. The pie is going to be huge enough for many players to be in.
What’s your plan to reach tour operators who are still using outmoded systems or pen and paper?
Information is easily available on the Internet today. We need to put ourselves out there whenever tours operators decide to embark on their digital transformation journey. Our plan is to have support offices around Asia so that we can help these operators on their digital journey.
It’s not just about providing the solution. It’s about understanding operator businesses and how best we can leverage different solutions.
If you had one piece of advice for the Arival community of tours, activities and attractions, what would it be?
Always, always focus on the end consumer. See what your end-consumer wants: Where do they wish to book? How do they want to have their experience? What price are they willing to pay for the experience? It’s never about the online travel agencies, or the agents or any other things.