Digital Booking Sites

SkiftStudio: Viator Says Real-Time Booking of Tours and Activities Has Arrived


Apr 04, 2014 8:00 am

Skift Take

Mobile will be transformative to the tours and activities market if and when vacationers think nothing of picking up their mobile devices and see what tours are available in the next hour or so — then booking them.

— Dennis Schaal

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Kelly Gillease, Viator's vice president of marketing, argues that consumers prefer the company's curated approach to tours and activities as opposed to GetYourGuide's list-everything philosophy. Skift

Giving travelers the ability to pick up their mobile device and book a show or tour at their destination with real-time availability is the Holy Grail of the tours and activities sector, and Kelly Gillease of Viator says the company has these capability for around 80% of its offerings.

“We are there today,” says Gillease, Viator’s vice president of marketing. “You can do that now. You can book a helicopter tour in Manhattan right now.”

Gillease discussed the state of Viator, the tours and activities market, and the competition during a SkiftStudio interview [embedded below] in Skift’s Manhattan offices last month.

On the competition, Gillease contrasts Viator’s curation with what she perceives as competitor GetYourGuide’s list-everything approach.

“We don’t list every tour separately on our site,” Gillease says.

“When you look at some of these other companies, like GetYourGuide, they might have a really large number because they list everything as a separate product,” Gillease says. “What consumer wants to click through 10 different tours?

“This one has lunch, this one doesn’t have lunch. This one’s at this time, this one’s at night. It is easier, we think, to consolidate things into one listing with a lot of primary information, and a lot of options off of that.”

Founded in 1995, Viator has some $20 million in funding, and we asked Gillease about Viator’s exit strategy. She’d have you believe that the “startup” isn’t obsessing about it.

Gillease pointed out that Viator hasn’t had to seek funding for years, has been profitable for the last few, and has aggressive plans to grow the business globally.

Below is an edited version of the interview:

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