Chris Torres of the Tourism Marketing Agency shares strategic insights on the The Digital Battle for Tours & Activities.
This is a second part follow on to a previous review of the disruptive forces impacting online travel tours, with huge changes rippling across organizations such as Expedia, TripAdvisor and Airbnb.
Chris examines the momentous effect Google and these OTAs (Online Travel Agency) are having on the sector. Just yesterday TripAdvisor CEO Steve Kaufer commented on this type of impact, describing the search giant as a significant challenge to their business. Google wants Travel and Maps to be the place you plan your trips from start to finish.
Chris makes the challenging point that tourism businesses that rely on bookings from OTAs, rather than generating their own direct traffic through their own digital marketing, then in essence you don’t really have a business, you’re just a commodity of these giants.
He reports that ideally operators do want to grow their own brand and business, but this is being made impossible, in terms of acquiring traffic through Google search, as the players like TripAdvisor are drowning the field with their massive spending in those areas.
With this in mind Chris recommends not putting your full product range on an OTA but instead to only put up those tours you want to test or find difficult to promote directly.
He stresses a more direct strategy is essential the very survival of the industry. If these types of trends continue unabated Chris foresees a dark future for small tour providers, essentially being reduced to an ‘Uber driver’ of tourism, a result that would see the industry to lose it’s soul.
Therefore it’s imperative for these operators to better stand on their own two feet and develop a successful direct online engagement model.