seedlingsThe shutdown of tours and activities booking platform Zerve earlier this month once again highlighted the obstacles and divisiveness that the tours and activities sector is facing.

Many travelers practically live on their mobile devices while they’re traveling but many of the sector’s mobile offerings haven’t kept pace with demand. Travelers want to discover their destinations through their devices but the reality is that they also still drive a lot of walk-up, in-person business once they arrive.

This week we’re looking at five startups that want travelers to turn to their phones for last-minute tours rather than a kiosk in a city center, entice travelers to buy tours using a Tinder-like interface and help tour operators build more compelling websites. Travelers aren’t being sold tours the way they want to be sold to and these companies hope to bring back the sensibility and enthusiasm.

Whym is a mobile app that lets travelers book last-minute tours and activities that’s available in ten cities across the U.S. and Europe.

>>SkiftTake: A lot of tours and activities discovery happens in-destination as travelers increasingly turn to their mobile devices for guidance. We also know that much of that discovery involves travelers finding tour operators in person be it at a hotel front desk or along a main avenue in a city where they decide to book one of those activities last-minute and offline.

Laika is a mobile app that shows travelers a stream of photos from various destinations. With a Tinder-like mindset, travelers either swipe right or left depending on whether they find the photo appealing or unappealing. Throughout that process, Laika uses artificial intelligence to predict travel destinations and activities that will be the most compelling for each traveler.

>>SkiftTake: Trip recommenders have a huge challenge with getting travelers to use them and tour operators haven’t had much success with selling their inventory on mobile. We think the Tinder interface is a good idea but getting travelers to book is the goal at the end of the day.

TourMega is a booking site for tours and activities.

>>SkiftTake: The simple filters that travelers select before they’re shown any tours makes the results seem more personal compared to how many other tours and activities sites present results.

TourismTiger helps tourism businesses design their websites.

>>SkiftTake: We support any platform that wants to improve the user experience on tours and attractions’ websites.

BeatnPaths is a platform connecting global attractions with tours and activities businesses. It lets attractions upload real-time information about their business to booking platforms. BeatnPaths automatically creates packages based on geographical location, theme and date of the query. Tourists have the ability to pre-order and book their attraction tickets at discounted prices.

>>SkiftTake: So much discovery now happens in-destination so it’s important that attractions are able to update their current offerings and communicate with their audiences in real-time.

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