The global heat map for tours and activities continues to burn bright this year as big players like TUI scoop up small players like Musement for back-end technology that will help them get more personalized products to travelers.
TUI Group has acquired Milan-based tours and activities startup Musement for an undisclosed amount in what has been an active year for the global tours and activities sector.
TUI said it has big plans for its newly enlarged tours and activities business earlier this year when it bought a destinations services business from Hotelbeds Group for $136 million, and Musement will remain independent within TUI Destination Experiences which is available in 49 countries, according to a statement from the company. TUI estimates the global tours and activities sector is worth $174 billion with a 7 percent annual growth rate.
Musement has raised $16.5 million to date and its most recent funding was a $10 million Series B round in November 2016. The company also bought trip planning startup Triposo last year.
Musement, which launched in 2013, has about 35,000 non-exclusive tours and activities products on its platform in 1,100 cities around the world. About one million travelers have booked a tour or activity through Musement, and the company will get access to TUI’s 20 million customers. Musement has 135 employees and TUI said all staff and founders Alessandro Petazzi, Claudio Bellinzona, Paolo Giulini, and Fabio Zecchini will initially stay on at TUI Destination Experiences.
TUI said it’s planning to offer travelers the option to book tours and activities from the time of booking a holiday through to their departure. “We are aiming to provide the most highly personalized experiences possible to our 20 million customers,” said Fritz Joussen, CEO TUI Group, in a statement. “This will require a stronger digitalization of our business. For me, digitalization and personalization are inextricably linked and constitute the key success factors for the future of tourism. With the acquisition of Musement, we are taking a further crucial step in this direction.”
Musement founder and CEO Alessandro Petazz said that the company’s work on machine learning and artificial intelligence was key to attracting TUI. “New opportunities are opening up to better monetize our technology and our offer, accessing the TUI Group’s vast customer base and exploiting its advantages in terms of acquisition costs and, therefore, potentially expanding notable strategic B2B2C distribution relations,” he said in a statement.
Musement said 50 percent of the company’s supply is guided tours and 50 percent are part of in-destination experiences such as museum tickets or scuba diving lessons.
Petazzi described Musement as more of a technology company and did more than 60 integrations with ticketing platforms since it was founded. “Other platforms offer more guided tours than we do,” he said. “In general, smaller companies like the idea of a curated approach. Our decision has been to partner with a relatively smaller number of players. For any specific attraction, we typically partner with a smaller number of suppliers than other platforms. Attractions obviously get a higher share of sales and they think the customer is getting a better experience. If we had come earlier to the market, maybe we could have afforded the looks of it.”
“We felt that we could be doing an interesting job not just by giving tour companies a distribution platform, but also improve the user experience for consumers,” said Petazzi.
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Photo credit: Musement was acquired by TUI Group for an undisclosed amount. Pictured is a tourist at the Trevi Fountain in Rome. Peter Sigrist / Flickr