Skift published an interesting article on tours and experiences recently. They compare the tours and experiences industry of today with the hotel industry 15 years ago. Before Booking.com came along, it was nearly impossible to compare and book the many independent and boutique hotels in Europe. Now we take for granted that all lodging options can be booked online.
In this $150 billion tours and experiences industry, 80% of bookings are done offline. Of course package tours can generally be found online. But individual tours and experiences are not so easy to book.
I was thinking about this recently while planning a trip to Tokyo. Mainly I seek out food experiences. I happen to know the sharing economy companies operating in Japan. So I browse each of their websites for options that look interesting. That’s online booking, but it’s pretty inefficient. And I think I’m unusual in having a list at my fingertips of the tours and experiences company I want to use. But at least with peer-to-peer activity companies, the starting point is online booking.
TripAdvisor bought Viator in 2014 as they made a push into selling tours and activities online. Viator was the industry leader in online activity booking. But even under the TripAdvisor umbrella they are far from industry dominance. Still, this is their fastest growing non-hotel booking revenue stream.
I think the market is ripe for an experiences booking consolidator. And hopefully someone will create a platform on which independent peer-to-peer tours and experiences businesses can also list their offerings. This could greatly expand the reach of these types of experiences by making it much easier for travelers to find them.