Skift Breaking News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Tour Operators

Tours and Activities Companies Launch Standards Association

1 week ago

Nearly three dozen tours and activities operators, reservation systems, and distributors debuted a non-profit association geared to formulate connectivity standards.

Source: Reuters

The 501c3 association, Open Connectivity for Tours, Activities & Attractions intends to promote an open source specification “to enable reservation and ticketing system providers and tour, activity and attraction ticket sellers to connect their systems for more efficient distribution,” the group announced Tuesday.

Founding members of the group include Arival, Checkfront, Gateway Ticketing Systems, Go City, Holibob, Peek, Tiqets, TUI Musement, Ventrata, Xola and Zaui.

Several major booking platforms, including Viator, GetYourGuide, Klook, Booking.com and Expedia weren’t part of the launch announcement.

Short-Term Rentals

Airbnb to Kickstart Experiences After 2-Year Pause

2 weeks ago

Airbnb mothballed its experiences business — and ceased investing in hotels — at the beginning of the pandemic, but CEO Brian Chesky said earlier this week that Airbnb will begin to invest in its experiences business again in 2023 after a two-year pause.

A file photo of an Airbnb host greeting participants in a bread-baking experience. Source: Airbnb

“It’s ready to invest like significantly in this business again,” he said.

Trotting out another e-commerce buzzword after discussing funnels, namely “flywheels,” Chesky argued that Airbnb’s homes and experiences businesses would invigorate each other.

“We have some really exciting things in the roadmap,” Chesky said, including for 2023. “And I think that experience is a great flywheel for homes because, again, the number one thing in travel is you want to have direct traffic, booking something unique that you can’t find anywhere else.”

Booking.com: Attractions Won’t Be a ‘Huge Money Spinner’

Booking Holdings Chief Financial Officer David Goulden, speaking at an Evercore technology conference September 8, noted that the company transitioned from a “homegrown acquisition strategy” for tours and activities — when it acquired Fareharbor in 2018 — to a partnerships model, such as through deals with TUI Musement and Viator.

He added that the market size and transaction values for attractions are not as substantial as for accommodations or flights.

“So I don’t think it will be a huge money spinner for us, but it’s certainly something that will create, I think, a lot of value for our customers, therefore, something we want to continue to focus on,” Goulden said.

Online Travel

FareHarbor Acting CEO Ted Clements to Step Down

4 weeks ago

Ted Clements, FareHarbor’s acting CEO who served as chief operating officer for the last three years, will step down from these positions in September, Skift has learned.

A small group tour of the Vatican. Source: Viator

Staff was informed of the move Tuesday, and no replacement has been named. Clements plans to stay in Amsterdam, headquarters for sister company Booking.com, and may pursue new opportunities, according to the announcement.

Rob Ransom, senior vice president, global strategy and business development for Booking Holdings, made the internal announcement, and said he would play a more active role in FareHarbor.

FareHarbor more than doubled its revenue during the years Clements served as chief operating officer, according to the announcement.

Tours and activities are key to Booking Holdings’ connected trip strategy, which aims to provide a hassle-free travel experience throughout the journey.

Booking Holdings acquired FareHarbor, a tours and activities technology and distribution platform, in 2018 for $139 milliion net of cash acquired and $110 million in stock.

FareHarbor co-founders Lawrence Hester and brother Zachary Hester left Booking Holdings in July 2021. Max Valverde, who served as FareHarbor CEO from 2019 to 2021, likewise left Booking at that time.

FareHarbor’s strategy has evolved over the last few years, evolving from an exclusively build-your-own strategy model in the early days under Booking Holdings to include FareHarbor outsourcing some of that work to partners such as TUI’s Musement and Viator in recent years.

The changing of the guard at FareHarbor comes as Google is getting more aggressive in building its own “things to do” business with an emphasis on big attractions. Booking engines such as FareHarbor and Peek participate in Google’s offering.

Watch out for updates.

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