Skift Travel News Blog

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

Online Travel

Booking.com Adds Klook To Its Roster of Activities Providers

7 hours ago

Booking.com expanded the geographic reach of its tours and activities offerings in Asia by entering a long-term strategic partnership with Klook, Booking.com announced Monday.

Madame Tussauds Singapore source Merlin Entertainments
The set of a Bollywood movie at Madame Tussauds Singapore. Travelers can buy tickets to this attraction and have their reservations instantly confirmed via Klook, an online travel agency that specializes in experiences. Madame Source: Merlin Entertainments

“Klook experiences are now live in over 175 cities, across over 30 markets on Booking.com, and the majority of these are available in Asia and Oceania,” Booking.com stated as it cited Klook as “the category leader for experiences in Asia.”

Booking.com is headquartered in Amsterdam, and Klook is based in Singapore.

Booking.com already had provider agreements with TUI’s Musement, based in Europe, and Tripadvisor’s Viator, which is headquartered in the U.S.

Booking.com sister company Priceline last week announced that it, too, hooked up with Musement to access tours and activities.

Tour Operators

Tours and Activities Companies Launch Standards Association

2 weeks 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

3 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

1 month 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.

Travel Agents

Reposite Raises $7.5 Million to Simplify Group Travel Bookings

1 month ago

Reposite, a maker of software for travel agents and advisors, has raised $7.5 million.

The company wants to establish itself as “the definitive group travel tool that fuels discovery and simplifies coordination for travel planners.”

The New York-headquartered startup was founded to address the needs of the group travel market, and in particular it wants to simplify it by leveraging data to consolidate planning.

Its supplier marketplace aids planners in finding new suppliers and receive proposals for their active trips. As well as activity providers it connects to restaurants, hotels, venues and transportation, and can notify them of trips happening in their area, so they can proactively connect with planners to win new business.

Current customers include Virgin Holidays, TUI, Bloomingdales, Major League Baseball and Brazilian steakhouse chain Fogo de Chao.

“We believe that group travel planning is ready for a data-driven refresh,” said Reposite co-founder Alexa Berube.

The round was co-led by returning investors Liberty City Ventures and Greycroft, with participation from MATH Ventures and BDMI. In 2020 it raised $2.5 million in funding.

Tour Operators

TUI Group’s $4 Billion Turnaround

5 months ago

Tour operator TUI has boosted its 2022 first-half revenue by $4 billion.

Posting its 2022 first-half results on Wednesday, which cover the period from Oct. 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022, the company said group revenue was $4.75 billion — an increase of $4 billion compared to the same six months in the previous year.

Its second-quarter revenue of $2.22 billion was also an “improvement” on the $0.2 billion revenue posted in the same quarter in 2021.

Tui said the turnaround reflected a “normalized pre-pandemic travel environment” with March achieving the highest monthly revenue within the quarter as operations ramped up after Omicron dented travel in January and February.

Its second quarter capacity also reached 71 percent of the same quarter in 2019. In March this year, operated capacity was at 75 percent. Some 1.9 million customers departed in the second quarter — an increase of 1.7 million customers versus the prior year.

However, its second quarter underlying EBIT (Earnings Before Interest and Taxes) loss was $348.75, compared to $669.17 million in the 2021 second quarter.

Looking ahead, the UK market is its most advanced booked, with bookings up 11 percent versus Summer 2019.

And like NCL, its full fleet of cruise ships has returned, with the three brands are back in operation. However, compared to its other segments, sailings recovery is expected to be slower with short-term bookings continuing to represent a large share of overall bookings.

Its Musement division delivered 681,000 excursions, activities and tours in the second quarter, which TUI said reflected the more open travel environment and the successful integration of the company.

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