Only 5% of leading tour operators at Arival offer “Manage my booking” online

A study from Microsoft in 2019 found that 90% of customers expect a brand or company to offer a customer self-service option online, and 66% of customers will attempt to use a self-service before contacting an agent for assistance.

Self-service has become a norm across many travel sectors, especially flights and hotels. We all book our travel online and use self-service to manage bookings, check-in, upgrade or buy extra services leading up to the travel date, especially for flights and hotels. That is, however, not the case for tours and activities.

Only rarely will you come across a tour operator that empowers customers to manage their direct bookings online, post-purchase of the experience. We at PaxFlow are aware of this but haven’t been able to estimate the size of the problem (or opportunity) yet. So we decided to do our own study among the tour operators that attended Arival in Las Vegas this week, and we thought we would share our findings on our blog.

The early adopters of travel tech attend Arival

The Arival conference in Las Vegas, held on October 10th-13th, attracted close to 300 tour operators as attendees. The conference prides itself on being THE event of the year for growth-minded creators and sellers of tours, activities, attractions & experiences. Arival is the event where to discover the most innovative tours and activities tech. So it should be safe to assume that the tour operators represented at Arival this year are probably among the most forward-thinking tour companies in the industry. So we decided to find out if the leaders in tours and activities offer “Manage my booking” option on their websites.

Our approach and findings

We took a straightforward approach with our research and visited the websites of all the tour operators attending Arvial Las Vegas this year and checked for three things:

  • Can customers book an experience online?
  • Which reservation solution powers the business?
  • Is a “Manage my booking” (or similar term) available on the front page of the booking site?

After removing some companies from the analysis, that didn’t fit our criteria for a tour operator; we looked at 263 tour operators and providers of experiences.

89% offer online booking

We found that 89% of the companies offer direct bookings on their websites. That is way above the 20% industry average, as was estimated in a study by Arival in 2020. So this confirms that the companies at Arival are digital leaders in the field and are more likely to be early adopters of technology than companies that do not attend the Arival conference.

The remaining 11% of companies attending Arival do not currently offer an online booking engine. We look forward to comparing the statistics to other similar events in the future.

Fareharbor and integrated solutions most popular

Our findings on which reservation technology the companies are using were less of a surprise to us, with Fareharbor having a stronghold in the N-American market, towering over the others. 22% of companies have integrated or custom-developed solutions, so we could not identify the underlying technology. Of the reservation technology companies, Peek, Xola, Rezdy and Bokun have several customers attending Arival, but other solutions have less than 1% of attendees each. We know that these numbers do not necessarily reflect the market share of each of these solutions, but it is still some indicator of the current state of affairs, at least in this part of the world.

Booking systems represented by tour operators at Arival Las Vegas 2022

Customer self-service to manage bookings as good as non-existing in the tours and activities space

Our findings tell a different story when researching which companies offer a “Manage my booking” option on their main website. Only 5% of tour and activity providers attending Arival in Las Vegas this year offer customer self-service to manage bookings online. That means that 95% of the leaders in this space are still dealing with simple customer requests for booking amendments or changes over the phone, via email or chat. There is a huge opportunity to do better.

Tour Operators represented at Arival Las Vegas 2022 with Customer Self Servive Portals to manage bookings

Why should tour operators offer self service to manage bookings?

If you are interested in learning why tour operators should offer self-service to manage bookings you should read our blog post below.

Reading Time: 5 minutes
While having an online booking platform previously gained you a competitive edge, it’s no longer the case today. Because every modern travel agency offers online booking, no business will survive on that service alone…

If you are interested in exploring the options of offering a customer self-service for customers to manage bookings online? Check out PaxPortal, the customer self-service portal from PaxFlow.