The tours, activities and attractions market (TAA) is rapidly evolving as it strives to create more unique and inclusive experiences for increasingly digital savvy consumers. The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a digital revolution in a sector in which certain processes have been accelerated, although it is true to say that a number of major players such as hotels and airlines had already embarked on the path toward greater digitalization.
According to the “Are You Experienced?” study carried out by NTT DATA, the world’s sixth-largest IT company, in collaboration with Globick, this acceleration is mainly due to a change in consumer behaviour.
Mobile devices have become the most and indeed sometimes the only device used to interact with tourism companies. The pandemic has also had a major impact on this change in behaviour. Due to capacity constraints, consumers have begun changing their booking strategy, and today, rather than leaving everything to the last minute, people are tending to plan their trips more in advance.
According to NTT DATA, the percentage of travellers who wait until the last minute has dropped from 38% in 2019 to 14% in 2021. In fact, 46% now buy their tickets a week or more in advance, according to data from Arival. As a result, the use of digital channels to make these bookings has skyrocketed, with 47% of consumers buying their tickets online, either on their computer or smartphone, compared to 28% in 2019.
Travel companies keen to take advantage of these changes in consumer behaviour must ensure that searching for and booking products at a destination - and real-time confirmation by the destination – are more streamlined and user friendly. This is where OTAs (Online Travel Agency) are at somewhat of an advantage.
A coherent, integrated and accessible experience
One of the main factors is that each travel company needs to offer products that are appropriate to its target market, thereby personalising its offer and making it easier for customers to find what they are looking for. Travel companies must also ensure that all third-party TAA products sold on their websites are just as easy to read, browse, understand, and book, even though the content is not their own. Personalised product recommendations are so much better than generic ones. If a consumer clicks on just one personalised recommendation, the conversion rate increases from 1% to 4%. There are even sophisticated algorithms that make personalised and effective recommendations, which help to reduce search times and increase sales.
Javier Martí, Partner - Head of Hospitality, Travel & Leisure at NTT DATA Europe & LATAM points out that “Just as in the case of flight and hotel distribution, a new generation of players will bring connectivity and integration to the industry to unlock the potential of the TAA business.”
Xavier Boixeda, CEO of Globick comments that “the in-destination activities sector—the third largest in the tourist industry—must become a core element in what online and offline travel agencies offer their customers, and it’s also something that accommodation providers and transport companies can embrace. It’s a growing market that’s undergoing a major digitalisation process, and we are clearly at a point where whoever looks at it as a core product and not as a travel accessory, can attract significant and highly profitable revenue.”
It goes without saying that another important factor to bear in mind is the need to establish a partnership with intermediaries that specifically specialise in the TAA market and can facilitate access to the best products on the market under the best possible conditions. Brands that want to sell TAA products successfully must make sure that their booking process, customer service and indeed their entire approach to selling these products are aligned with their brand, integrated and coherent.
In short, selling TAA products gives travel brands a wide range of opportunities to build customer loyalty by offering them unique experiences before, during and after their trips. This consumer experience must be fully integrated and aligned with the brand and have an IT platform that makes it easy to access the inventory of multiple TAA operators.