What tour & activity providers really think of OTAs

Like it or not, online travel agencies (OTAs) such as TripAdvisor, Expedia, GetYourGuide and many others are becoming a bigger part of sales for Tours, Activities & Attractions. The acquisition of two tech companies in our sector last month brought this issue right into the spotlight.

Reading Time: 7 mins

Like it or not, online travel agencies (OTAs) such as TripAdvisor, Expedia, GetYourGuide and many others are becoming a bigger part of sales for Tours, Activities & Attractions. The acquisition of two tech companies in our sector last month brought this issue right into the spotlight.

Of course, all of the industry pundits had their say, but we think the only thing that really matters is what you think – the creators and sellers of Tours, Activities & Attractions. So last week we fielded a survey to all of you, and here are our findings.

Who Responded
More than 130 of you took the survey. Most, 77%, are “suppliers” – the creators of Tours, Activities & Attractions. The remaining 23% were a mix of OTAs and resellers, technology companies, and a few marketing and media companies in travel and tourism.

On Tech Acquisitions: A Mix of Enthusiasm & Questions
More than a third of supp

liers (36%) feel “great” about the acquisitions of FareHarbor and Bokun by Booking Holdings and TripAdvisor, respectively. More, 45%, expressed either some concern or worry. About one fifth don’t care or are not following the news.

Reseller and tech company respondents (resellers include OTAs and other distribution companies) were decidedly more enthusiastic, although some harbor concerns as well – potentially competitive concerns.

Suppliers’ Have Their Say
More than 50 supplier respondents also submitted comments. Here some of the highlights.  We only include comments from suppliers below (no OTAs or tech companies), and each comment is from a unique respondent.

On the acquisitions of the reservation systems, most comments expressed a mix of concern and wanting more information.

It was a long time coming. I think the transactions bring more attention and validation to the tour and activity space. So overall it’s certainly a positive.

Only time will tell. For us and FareHarbor, it will be interesting to see if Booking Holdings will provide us with more bookings globally… this is what we are hoping for.

I am worried about it. Only exciting if the future plans don’t price us out of the game.

I look forward to the growth but am concerned about how buying software will impact companies not on that system.

I am hopeful they don’t mess with the business model offered by FareHarbor in an effort to get it to work “better” with their main business.

I am bit uncertain as to what direction they are going in. Would like more info.

It’s allowing them access to sales data and distribution mix. It’s concerning as they may get too much control over my business.

Wait and see! Could be good or bad or irrelevant.

On the Rise of OTAs: Excitement, Concerns, & Frustration
We also asked how Tour, Activity & Attraction operators feel about the growth and rising influence of OTAs. However, we made a mistake in one of the questions by omitting a positive response option. Many respondents pointed this out and left comments. So we went through every individual response, and about one third said the growth of OTAs is great, half expressed concerns, and about 17% simply didn’t care.

Suppliers’ Have Their Say
More than half of supplier respondents also submitted comments. Here some of the highlights. Again, we only include comments from suppliers below (no OTAs or tech companies), and each comment is from a unique respondent.

Some are unabashedly positive:

I think this is entirely natural and something to take advantage of.

For us it’s great as our main clientele comes from OTAs.

I think it is a natural evolution of technology making its way into the travel industry… times are changing and some things will be better and some will die out.

I’m actually excited.  It’s a great way to get exposure without a large advertising budget.

I believe it offers us greater exposure for activities and is positive.

Some are more cautious in their optimism:

Generally good, but again, would like to have a better understanding of what that means for distribution, marketing and revenue opportunities.

The growth of OTAs serve a valuable purpose. It’s a major distribution channel that is important to the Tours & Activities segment. It does highlight the invaluable need for suppliers to have channel management capabilities to ensure that the OTAs don’t control their fate entirely.

Overall, positive because they increase our sales volume and market exposure. But, technical glitches and general customer service from is mediocre and sometimes downright poor. The customer gets upset with us for any mistakes or problems.

It might change the face of tourism, with a less personal touch.

Happy to distribute via them – however on my terms. I want complete control over my distribution and rates, I just don’t want other businesses to know about it.

 

Others expressed greater worry or were simply frustrated:

I worry that in the end there will only be a couple major ones and they will start to dictate pricing.

Becoming the Amazon of Travel, pushing small operators out of business in the push to lower pricing.

They are monopolizing the industry and setting extremely unfavorable terms for suppliers.

OTAs are more concerned with their profits than the guest experience. Their commissions are too high for small operators.

One of you offered some advice:

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!

A few of you were frustrated with our survey (with good reason):

Why wouldn’t there be choices that are positive for this question? Seems your steering to an answer you want.

On that, we screwed up and omitted a positive answer option for one question. So we went through every single response and recorded the positive responses. We definitely did NOT intend to get any particular outcome. We just goofed.

If you responded to the survey, Thank you. If you have any feedback or questions on this post, or other topics you would like us to poll our community on, please email me: [email protected].

Hey, one more thing. Arival is going to feature in-depth sessions on how to work with OTAs, including interviews with the leaders of the biggest players. You get to ask the questions. Join us in Las Vegas in September. Together, let’s advance the business of creating amazing in-destination experiences!

trending

THE ARIVAL INSIDER PRO ACCESS MEMBERSHIP; YOU GET ALL THIS TO HELP YOU ADVANCE YOUR BUSINESS.

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

Arival.guides

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
ARIVAL CODE OF CONDUCT​
CONFERENCES AND COMMUNITY SPACES​

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].


Get on the List
Sign up to receive insights tailored for the in-destination industry as well as updates on Arival.
  *
 *
 *
 *
 
 
You can sign up to receive email updates from topics that may interest you.
*Required fields
Note: It is our responsibility to protect your privacy and we guarantee that your data will be completely confidential.