Skift Travel News Blog

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

Tour Operators

TUI’s Musement Doubles Experiences Bookings and Plans Expansion

10 months ago

TUI Musement continues to carve its place in the growth flywheel of parent company TUI Group, with the launch of its digital TUI experiences platforms to take the brand beyond Europe and into the world.

Sebastian Ebel, chairman and CEO of TUI Group, said TUI’s activities segment continues to support the group strategy of bringing new customers into the TUI ecosystem during an earnings call on Wednesday. Musement, which saw +185 percent year-on-year growth for business-to-customer experiences sold in quarter two of 2023, will continue to build its own unique experiences across 100 key cities.

Ebel outlined how its digital platform rollout would also support its TUI Blue asset-light growth, with the ongoing development of its own product.

TUI’s acquisition into Musement saw great investment in Milan, Spain and France, but the company would now be rolling out products for Germany, England, and the Far East, for example.

“We are targeting a hundred key cities at the moment in the world so that you don’t only get the best offers in Majorca but also when you are in Berlin,” said Ebel. “We are building more and more of our own products because we can sell as a merchant, but it’s more attractive if we produce the products on our own or make them unique through special relationships and to build further the Tui Collection.”

TUI’s tours and activities reported a near doubling in the number of excursions and activities booked during the second quarter ending March 31, with 1.3 million experiences sold and an estimated 0.7 million more than in the prior-year quarter.

Musement has reduced its underlying earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) loss to -$13.9 million in the period under review, compared to -$19.92 million in the prior year. TUI Musement also benefited from increased guest transfers, with a total of 3.4 million transfers in destinations. You can read more about TUI’s focus on dynamic packaging and second-quarter earnings here.

Travel Booking

Richard Branson’s Virgin to Launch New Experiences Offering in U.S.

1 year ago

Richard Branson’s Virgin Experience Days is betting on a thriving experiences economy, and Americans wanting to spend more time doing meaningful things together, by expanding its U.K. brand across the pond.

Carrie Keplinger, the company’s new chief commercial officer announced on LinkedIn that she would be working with its UK based management team, as part of Equistone Partners Europe, to scale the business in the U.S. market.

In July of 2021 the company launched Virgin Experience Gifts in the U.S., which has some 2,000 experiences on offer from racing adventures, helicopter rides to food tours and spa days.

Launch partners in the U.S. have yet to be revealed, but its’ U.K. counterpart works with and offers some 3,000 experiences.


Electric Biking, Cemetery Walks Among Fastest Growing U.S. Travel Experiences

1 year ago

Americans want savvy pricing regarding their travel experiences in the new year, as they keep an open mind about the type of things they plan to book. 

U.S. travelers are prioritizing price-driven travel in 2023, according to the latest Skyscanner data looking at travel preferences for 2023. The metasearch travel company added that 46 percent of consumers are planning the same number of vacations in 2023 as 2022, and 41 percent are thinking of even going on more trips next year. What’s more, 86 percent of respondents said they plan to spend the same, if not more, on travel in 2023. 

So, as vacations get prioritized next year over other big-ticket items, it’s interesting to note where people are headed to. Tours and activities brand Viator, owned by Tripadvisor, has just announced their 2022 Fastest-growing Travel Experiences list. From guided hiking in Puerto Rico to ghostly city tours in York, the list is based on the most bookings within a set period, and rated against over 300 different experiences.

  1. Siesta Key Electric Bike Sunset Tour
  2. Grand Canyon West Rim Bus Tour & Hoover Dam Photo Stop with Optional Skywalk
  3. Bonaventure Cemetery Walking Tour with Transportation
  4. Chef Guided Food Tour of Pike Place Market
  5. Sunset Sail in Key West with Beverages Included

The Siesta Key Electric Bike Sunset Tour has seen the most interest on the travel booking platform. Listed in the On The Ground, Mountain biking category the tour has some 590 reviews and 5 stars – although all the trips included in the fastest growing experiences in the US and Canada have 5 stars.

The second and third slots see a full-day Grand Canyon tour and a walking tour of a cemetery. Unfortunately, Viator doesn’t detail by what margin the tours grew or the number of overall bookings.

The categories show that outdoor adventures, with a green element or macabre twist, are top of mind for day-tour bookings.

Online Travel

Spontaneous Trips Are In; Ugly Sweaters Out This Holiday Season

1 year ago

There’s nothing quite like a surprise travel gift — and U.S. travelers are ready for it.

During the most wonderful time of the year, consumers are more optimistic about the holiday period since the pandemic started, despite concerns about the economy and rising prices. Americans are excited about holiday shopping but even more so about taking a holiday in 2023.

GetYourGuide survey shows more Americans are planning to travel for the holidays this year than in 2021 (52 percent compared to 48 percent last year), and travel tops the list of experiences people hope to be surprised with.

The finding shared by the travel booking platform shows that 77 percent of Americans would rather receive experiences over physical gifts if they could share them, with the following list of the top experiences they’d most like to enjoy.

  • Surprise travel (63 percent),
  •  Tickets to a concert or show (50 percent),
  •  An outdoor activity, such as skiing, boating or hiking (43 percent),
  •  Food tour or cooking class (36 percent),
  •  Wine or beer tasting (31percent),
  •  Or a trip to the museum (29 percent).

And the wanderlust bug appears to be biting hard, as most respondents weren’t picky either — as 96 percent said they would gladly take any of the top experiences listed above.

Want the latest insights on the business of travel in 2023 – Don’t miss the Skift Megatrends event in both online, and in New York City and London in January. 


Vacation Drama of White Lotus Adds Murderous Spike to Sicily Tours Demand

1 year ago

Sicily is turning to out to be every bit as seductive as the hit HBO satire series White Lotus makes it out to be. 

Interest in Italy and its charming towns have seen web searches up over 50% following the series’ record-breaking finale in December. This is according to Alessio Virgili, co-founder and CEO of Sonders & Beach.  

Quiiky, an Italian LGBTQ+ Tour operator and subsidiary of Sonders & Beach, saw its new White Lotus tour sell out in record time earlier in the year. Virgili said they anticipate high demand for 2023 – with registration only set to open in January.

A feather in the tour’s itinerary is a two-night stay at the Four Season‘s San Domenico Palace in Taormina.  

Fans can’t seem to get enough of the destination or the luxury hotel, which hosted the eccentric cast of characters, with the psuedo White Lotus resort also sold out before it reopens in 2023. And what’s not to love about its beautiful beaches and lavish vineyards that set the backdrop for characters of Aubrey Plaza, Will Sharpe, Theo James, and Meghann Fahy in the series. 

Destination appeal thanks to hugely popular TV shows or movies has been an ongoing trend for almost a decade. Season 1 filming location Maui also saw a boost in visitors. In addition, the epic Game of Thrones’ Westeros added some $200 million in tourism spend to Croatia between 2013 and 2018. 

HBO confirmed the third season of White Lotus would go ahead but the destination remains undisclosed.

Tour operators should ask themselves what the next smash hit series is and where it will be filmed.