In April, PhocusWire uncovered details of Touring Bird, the hush-hush tours and activities app Google was developing inside its Area 120 incubator.
Now Touring Bird has officially launched 25,000 experiences in 20 markets (the test run focused just on Paris), with the goal of serving as a “one-stop shop for travelers looking to find a range of experiences in a destination,” says the app’s founder, Lax Poojary.
This “one-stop shop” includes a little bit of everything: Touring Bird has big-box tour packages, local and curated experiences, plus a handy “build-your-own-package” feature all neatly contained within one app.
Poojary says Touring Bird was created to solve four major pain points: 1. The amount of time it takes travelers to research across online and offline information sources, 2. The difficulty of finding one-of-a-kind experiences, 3. The difficulty of finding free activities and 4. The difficulty of finding activities that match users’ interests.
“We aim to solve these problems by helping them find everything - paid, free and local, unique experiences - in one place and at the same time to not overwhelm them,” he says.
Touring Bird features
With Touring Bird, users can select a destination, and the app will surface popular attractions, such as the Empires State Building in New York, as well as free guided tour options and tips from local bloggers, such as where to eat nearby.
Users want to know about every experience at a destination because there is very high fear of missing out.
Lax Poojary - Touring Bird
For the top destinations, the build-your-own-package feature lets users customize and compare options across major providers, including Viator, GetYourGuide and Expedia. They can filter by price and preferences (to, for example, not just visit the main observation deck at the Empire State Building, but to also visit it at sunset). Then, to make a booking, the app will direct travelers to the provider’s website.
Poojary says the free tours on offer are aggregated from the web as well as a few free tour aggregators. He adds that Touring Bird is building a “community of local bloggers and travel writers to curate unique, local experiences that users can explore on their own.”
The local tips (such as, “Study street art where Banksy got his start”), he says, are something Touring Bird is “very excited” about and something he considers “a big differentiator for us.”
The app also includes a curated selection of tours and activities based on interest and traveler type, which Poojary says are built both manually and through machine learning.
Something for everyone...
Touring Bird is, in a way, combining the offerings of major providers with local flavor a la Airbnb Experiences, to which Poojary replies: “Users want to not only experience the big attractions but they also want to have immersive experiences at a destination. As a one-stop shop for tours, activities and experiences we are committed to connecting our users with the best experiences at a destination.”
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What users want, he continues, is “to know about every experience at a destination because there is very high fear of missing out.
"They want a tool that they can trust to show them not only commercial tours and activities but also free and local experiences that they can explore on their own.”
Asked if Touring Bird could be incorporated into another Google product such as Trips, Poojary says the focus now is on bringing the app to more people and improving the user experience.
Down the line, he says the app - which is available on mobile and desktop - will improve ranking and personalization and build automated and customizable day plans.
Hear more on tours and activities at The Phocuswright Conference