It’s hard to believe the inaugural Arival event has already come and gone.
From October 11- 13, nearly 600 professionals (suppliers, OTA’s, resellers, thought leaders and software providers from all over the world) met to discuss tours and activities.
As the first conference to focus on tours and activities, we were stoked to see everyone come together in one place. There was an amazing sense of community.
The event had demo labs, panels, interviews, and so much collaboration and secret sharing that everyone walked away having learned something.
Which is funny considering the level of competition that was present.
It shows that everyone is working toward a common goal— unlocking the potential of the industry.
Here are our top 3 takeaways from the 1st Arival Event:
1. COMMUNITY > COMPETITION
With an event focused on one segment of an industry it’s natural that competitors bump shoulders. What was great about Arival is that the competition was healthy. Everyone seemed to enjoy talking to each other.
We got to sit down with people at other booking systems, to discuss how we can make suppliers life easier by increasing bookings and reducing overhead.
And we got to talk with suppliers directly about how we can better address their pain points. It was also refreshing to see the passion of all the suppliers. That they are demanding more from the market, and that they won’t settle until they find the right fit.
Suppliers got to talk with suppliers outside of their destination. Which opened them up to share ideas and new perspectives, without the risk of creating a direct competitor.
Everyone got to hear about the future of travel from executives at TripAdvisor, Expedia, and Google.
And we all discussed the need for standardization.
2. DISTRIBUTION = PROBLEMS
Speaking about standardization, we should start with distribution.
It was a hot topic of conversation. You might even say it was the main theme. And that’s because it’s a challenge that everyone is struggling with.
There’s no easy way to access and distribute all the tour and activity inventory that exists. And it’s leaving a lot of money on the table.
Even Google doesn’t know. They laid out their plan to aggregate tours and activities similar to flights and hotels, but they couldn’t explain how.
If tours and activities are going to become more of a global powerhouse, the industry needs to come up with a way to standardize availability and create an API that links to all the OTA’s (similar to what MyAllocator does for accommodations). If we can work together on this, everyone will benefit.
3. COMMISSIONS < FEES
Suppliers made it clear— they are not a fan of commissions.
Starting with the 30-35%, they are paying to Online Travel Agents (OTAs). While these are rates, everyone does see them as a necessary evil.
OTA fees can be viewed as a marketing expense. They have the expertise in PPC, SEO, and they have a massive following. If they can reach an audience that you can’t, then it’s worth the investment.
And they are a consumer-facing brand. So it makes sense that they take a piece of the pie. (They might be taking a little too much, but who are we to question their model).
What we can, and always have questioned is booking platforms charging commissions. Checkfront has always said we’re not playing that game. We exist to help suppliers, not to take a portion of their revenue. It’s good to see that the rest of the industry was moving in that direction.
And that’s it. (Well, there was so much more that it couldn’t fit in a single post.)
A big shout out to Douglas, Bruce, Alex and everyone at Arival who made this event possible. We were very impressed by how the event was handled. And we look forward to many more!
See you guys next year.