Why travel’s experiences sector isn’t likely to operate like others

Why travel’s experiences sector isn’t likely to operate like others

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Experiences, experiences and more experiences. 

Alongside generative artificial intelligence, tours, activities and experiences have been a solid contender for the hottest travel topic of 2023 as travelers seek out those elements on which to hinge their travel plans.

Newer names like Turneo are making an experiences-shaped splash while veteran players, including major hotel brands, have also discussed incorporating more experiences-related elements into their business models.

As the travel industry grapples with how the experiences sector will develop going forward, Viator president Ben Drew and GetYourGuide’s co-founder and CEO Johannes Reck joined Douglas Quinby, co-founder and CEO of Arival, on Center Stage at The Phocuswright Conference for a wide-ranging conversation on the current state of experiences and what the future might hold.

The experience trend isn’t new – it’s been burgeoning over the past couple years as travelers’ demand for experiences has crept up and up. And its continued growth has led to interest in how it will perform going forward.

So far, its future, while promising, is a bit murky – but it isn’t likely that it will function the same way as other travel sectors.

When asked by Quinby why the experiences sector hasn’t seen many companies post an initial public offering like other members of the travel sector have, Reck compared experiences to the hotel industry – and explained its complexities.

“It’s a massive market,” Reck said. “But the difference to hotels is that, structurally, (it) is a lot more heterogeneous.”

When you talk about an “experience,” he said, you can be talking about anything from an experience at Disney World or one at a “mom and pop shop” – and just as the experience inventory varies, the methods of payment and distribution vary too.

“It’s much more complex to operate an experiences marketplace,” Reck said.

The trio also discussed perennial challenges in the experiences sector including the customer journey, suppliers, artificial intelligence and its implications in the industry and content creation.

Check out the full conversation below.

Tours, Activities and Experiences – Aiming High with GetYourGuide, Viator and Arival – Phocuswright

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