Skift Travel News Blog

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

Tour Operators

GetYourGuide Appoints New Chief People Officer

3 months ago

Experience marketplace GetYourGuide has appointed Genevieve Vancutsem-Zednik as its chief people officer.

Vancutsem-Zednik’s role will become effective in March. She will oversee the talent management and culture of the company, headquartered in Berlin, with 800 employees across its 17 offices worldwide.

Johannes Reck, GetYourGuide co-founder and CEO, said the appointment is well-suited to the company’s subsequent “growth and investment plans for 2024,” as it focuses on its presence in the Americas.

Vancutsem-Zednik has two decades of human resources leadership and most recently served as the chief people officer for Europe and Asia at global e-commerce provider Wayfair.

“As the company matures into its next phase, I look forward to meeting, learning from, and working with the team to further build on a culture of growth and collaboration,” said Vancutsem-Zednik.

Tour Operators

London Bans Sphere Venue. MSG Looking to Build in New Location

5 months ago

Sphere Entertainment Company, sister company to Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corporation MSG, is looking for a new location for its second Sphere venue after its London-based plans were blocked by the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan. 

Khan rejected the Sphere project, similar to Las Vegas’ $2.3 billion Sphere, despite the development’s potential for significant foreign investment in the UK.

“While we are disappointed in London’s decision, there are many forward-thinking cities that are eager to bring this technology to their communities. We will concentrate on those,” a Sphere Entertainment spokesperson told Skift.

Planned for the edge of East London’s Olympic Park in Stratford, Khan turned down the venue due to concerns about light pollution, increased electricity usage, and a need for more sustainable green energy solutions. The project also posed potential risks to heritage sites in the Stratford area.  

MSG’s executive chairman and chief executive, James Dolan, said in an interview with The Standard that the company had no intention to appeal. Dolan called the move “political” after a five-year process with the London Legacy Development Corporation, thousands of hours of consultation with community forums, and 100 changes to the proposed venue’s plans.

Dolan expected to sell the site pegged for the £1.5 billion ($1.87 billion) MSG Sphere arena

He questioned why London “wouldn’t want the best show on earth?”, citing U2’s extended residency at the Sphere in Las Vegas. 

“Everybody comes out of that show saying it’s the best thing they have ever seen. You should talk to Bono. He is going to be disappointed it’s not in London. Bono sees the Sphere in Vegas as an art installation. He tells me all the time. I also think he might like one in Dublin.”

Tour Operators

TUI Teams Up With National Geographic to Expand Small-Group Day Tours

5 months ago

European tour operator TUI’s tours and activities division, TUI Musement, has expanded its collaboration with National Geographic Expeditions, launching 40 new NatGeo Day Tours. 

Previously only available as part of a cruise itinerary package, travelers can now independently book a mix of one-day and half-day itineraries. According to a partnership update released by TUI, these NatGeo tours specialize in beach and city experiences in destinations like Barcelona, Cancun, Crete, Paphos, New York, Naples, and Tenerife.

The tours, led by National Geographic-trained guides, are conducted in small groups of about 8 to 15 people and follow the TUI groups’ Global Sustainable Tourism Council criteria, it said.

NatGeo tours include exploring Miró’s diverse artworks and creations in Barcelona, Spain, guided by architectural and art restoration specialists in the Homage to Miró experience. Another example is embarking on coral reef conservation with marine biologists and oceanographers in Cancun, Mexicoas part of the National Geographic Pristine Seas project in the Unveiling the Importance of Reef Restoration tour.      

An exclusive and educational sailing and snorkeling NatGeo tour to identify bleached corals and understand reef restoration and sustainable marine practices. Source: TUI Musement.

Peter Ulwahn, CEO of TUI Musement, previously shared TUI’s tours and activities strategy as a key growth sector with Skift. He noted that city destination experiences offered as shore excursions notably increased along with the group’s cruise sector revival, seeing a 69% year-on-year growth for TUI’s cruise products between April and June this year, compared to the same period in 2022.

The booking of TUI Collections in city destinations has seen a 90% increase year-on-year. From October 2022 to September 2023, TUI Musement facilitated over 1 million direct bookings, added Ulwahn.

“National Geographic Day Tours are once-in-a-lifetime experiences. These are carefully crafted tours that tell stories of their destinations, honoring the National Geographic legacy and providing top quality, authentic, local experiences,” said Ulwahn.

Tour Operators

Consumer Preference for Experiential Gifts Peaks – Survey

6 months ago

A new survey by tours and activities online marketplace GetYourGuide showed American consumers want gifts that allow them to travel and experience the world more. 

92% of participants said they prefer receiving experiences over physical gifts, up from 77% last year. The survey, now in its third year, showed marked growth in the desire for experiential gifts, from an initial 62% in 2021. 

The holiday sentiment trend correlates with a 63% increase in total bookings between January and October 2023, compared to the same period last year, said GetYourGuide. Price remains a top concern for 56% of Americans, despite being down 7 points from last year.

Regarding the type of experiences, travel topped the list, especially among Millennials, with 51% preferring a trip as their ideal gift. Added preferences included:

  • Concert or show (40%),
  • Outdoor activity such as skiing or hiking (30%)
  • Museum visit (27%)

Food remains a top category for experiential bookings, chosen by 56% of Americans, with a further 33% inspired by local cuisine featured in shows or articles. Pop culture significantly influences travel choices, with 81% citing it as a reason to travel, and 36% have been motivated to travel to a location featured in a TV show or movie.

GetYourGuide said the survey, weighted by Wakefield Research, was conducted among 1,000 Americans aged 16-56, from 5 to 10 September.

Tour Operators

ToursByLocals Appoints Lisa Chen as New CEO

7 months ago

ToursByLocals has appointed Lisa Chen as its new CEO. The leadership change comes as co-founder and former CEO Paul Melhus steps into the role of Executive Chairman of the Board.

Chen initially joined the company in February 2023 as president and brings extensive experience from her previous executive roles at Expedia and Disney.

With 135 core employees, over and above the guides who list on the platform from across 190 countries, the Canadian-based ToursByLocals hit its 2 million customers milestone in May 2023.

Tritium Partners, investors in the company’s $33 million Series A raise just before the pandemic, said it was confident in Chen’s experience to head up the business as a two-sided marketplace.

Tour Operators

Attraction World Group Acquired by New Investment Company

7 months ago

Attraction World Group (AWG) has been acquired by Montana World Investments, a newly founded international investment group, in a deal facilitated by alternative asset management firm Highmore Group.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed, and it is said to allow the UK-based tours and activities distribution and booking platform to expand internationally into industries like “loyalty programs, online travel agents (OTAs), airlines, rail, and transportation.”

The capital will be used to “fuel growth in new markets, invest in advanced technologies, and make strategic acquisitions in line with AWG’s vision,” according to Olly Nicholls, AWG’s Group CEO.

The deal also marks the exit of previous AWG shareholders, Ten Oceans.

Tour Operators

Musement Co-founder Claudio Bellinzona Leaves TUI

7 months ago

The co-founder of Musement, Claudio Bellinzona, is leaving TUI Musement. He will be taking on an advisory role with the tours and activities arm of Europe’s leading tour operator.

The company confirmed Bellinzona’s exit as chief supply officer and confirmed a new tours and activities commercial team, “focused on strategic business to business partners,” to be headed up by Nishank Gopalkrishnan, previously TUI Musement chief business officer and the team’s newly appointed as chief commercial officer.

Bellinzona leaves TUI five years after it acquired the Milan-based tours and activities startup in 2018. Peter Ulwahn, CEO of TUI Musement, confirmed Bellinzona will continue working with the TUI Musement leadership team on “various new growth opportunities.” as he commended his impact on TUI Musement’s recovery post-pandemic as well as the completed integration of Musement into TUI.

The unification of TUI Musement’s partnerships under one commercial team comes as the division generates 50% of the business’ revenues through distribution partnerships that include OTAs like Booking.com and airlines and hotels. The commercial team’s portfolio development, through API and white-label distribution, will be for TUI Collections, the company’s branded experiences, and third-party experiences.

Tour Operators

TUI Opens New Digital Hub in Portugal

7 months ago


TUI Group has consolidated its digital activities in Portugal by opening a new tech center in Porto.

Europe’s largest holiday package tour operator continues to lean into an ambitious digital transformation, with the center set to focus on developing mobile apps, payment systems, and using artificial intelligence across both TUI’s customer-facing and internal services.

In 2017, TUI partnered with IT service provider COCUS to create a Software Development Hub in Portugal. After five years of collaboration, they recently agreed to integrate this software hub into TUI’s organization as a ‘Digital Hub.’

TUI already has tech teams in Poland and India, with the new Porto center adding 150 more tech specialists to its workforce, with plans to grow the Porto team to 200 by the end of 2024.

Portugal is a popular destination for TUI travelers, according to TUI’s CEO, Sebastian Ebel, who said the development “strengthens its position in the country.” Ebel has laid out his intent for TUI’s app to become a one-stop shop for travel.

In a previous interview with Skift, Peter Ulwahn, CEO of TUI Musement, the group’s tours and activities division, commented on the company’s digital transformation, stating,” We were offline before. Now we are transforming the company, and we really want to compete with the other OTA players in the space when it comes to technology.”

Tour Operators

Europe’s Sandemans Free Walking Tours Partners with TripAdmit for Cashless Tipping

7 months ago

Sandemans Tours has partnered with TripAdmit to integrate its digital tipping and reviews platform, TipDirect, with its network of guides in more than 30 cities across Europe, North America, and the Middle East.

The service offers a cashless and contactless tipping solution, allowing guests to pay directly via their smartphones to tour guides. Chris Sandeman, managing director of Sandemans Tours, emphasized the importance of easy and secure digital tipping for their guides who work on a tips-only basis.

Additionally, TipDirect uses generative AI to help travelers create personalized reviews with keyword-rich text for platforms like Google and TripAdvisor.

Dublin-based TripAdmit, a technology company that enables the online selling of tour and activity providers, said the partnership speaks to a “growing trend towards a cashless society.” The company’s recent high-season booking data also showed that travelers continue to look for “affordable and spontaneous experiences” with short booking timeframes.

Source: TripAdmit.

TripAdmit ticketing customers had seen an average increase of 25% in tour sales during this year’s high season compared to 2022. Activities priced under $55 (under 50 euros) also had a high lead time of under one week, with over 90% of bookings made within this timeframe.

Hotels

IDEAS: Rocco Forte Hotels Launches Guided Urban Art Tours

7 months ago

Rocco Forte Hotels have launched two urban art-themed tours which have been designed to immerse guests into the deep history of the world of graffiti and street art in Berlin and Munich. 

Credit: Philip Koschelf/Visit Berlin

According to a release from Rocco Forte Hotels, Munich has often been regarded as the birthplace of German graffiti art and has been home to the Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art since 2016, which is the first museum of this kind in Germany.

Guests of the Charles Hotel in Munich will have the opportunity to take part in an exclusive tour of the city’s artistic facades, walls and subways – led by street art pioneer Matthias Köhler (aka Loomit) – with Loomit sharing his personal street art highlights and the story of how the street art movement in Munich began. 

At Hotel de Rome in Berlin, guests will have the opportunity to join a private guide on a discovery tour of the urban art and graffiti scene across the city, with guests invited to experience the city as a ‘gigantic open-air art gallery’, learn more about the background of the artworks and discover how they are created.

The graffiti tours are available to book at the The Charles Hotel in Munich and the Hotel de Rome in Berlin.


Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.