£50bn tours sector ‘is unperforming online’

£50bn tours sector ‘is unperforming online’

Tours and activities suppliers should look to get their product into existing booking channels because specialist consumer sites lack penetration in the online market.

The advice came from two specialists in the fast-growing sector at a Small Fish Big Ocean World Travel Market Pitch Night in London.

Flextrip chief executive Leith Stevens said: “There are a lot of people who are using B2C channels and people are selling these activities. But if you look at the market as a whole, it is worth $50 billion and only a small percentage of that is booked online.

“This is because, we believe, it is not part of the regular booking channels they [customers] use. You are really forcing people to go out of their way.”

Stevens said the market is moving towards a push mechanism, inserting product into established channels such as airline, hotel and travel agency sites, rather than pulling to a standalone tours and activities site.

“We feel this model of pulling consumer to tours and activities websites simply does not work. These are more like SEO companies, all they do is pull people in from Google, they are not part of the booking process.”

Florian Harkort, co-founder and chief executive of Pocket Village agreed. He said the B-C model “has its challenges”.

“Tour and activities are sold in context to other products like flights and hotels and our job is to contextually place activities and tours with related content like on TripAdvisor or Rough Guides.”

Pocket Village has just undergone a redesign, adding new functionality including geo-coding for tours. The firm is also developing a mobile app.

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