Tour and activity operators are not only competing to provide the best experience to travelers, they are also vying to win when it comes to awareness, booking and payment of their products.
Data from Checkfront indicates booking activity has been shifting in recent years, highlighting the need for operators to invest in multiple sales channels to maximize their opportunities.
Founded in 2010, Checkfront provides online bookings tools for experience operators, rental companies and accommodation providers. The company says it has processed more than $1.5 billion in booking annually for businesses in 128 countries.
According to its data, as recently as 2017 offline accounted for more than half of all bookings (51.5%) and online direct was just 43.6%.
But during this year so far the balance has shifted – offline has dropped to 39.8% and online direct has jumped to 49.2%. Booking through online travel agencies have also increased, from 3.9% in 2017 to 8.8% this year.
For same day bookings, offline activity is decreasing while online direct and OTA bookings are both on the rise, likely due to consumer’s growing comfort with booking on mobile and operators’ adoption of digital interfaces.
For travelers booking at least 30 days in advance, both offline and online direct bookings have decreased slightly since 2017, but OTA bookings have jumped from just 4.1% in 2017 to 13.7% this year.
When bookings are made on a digital device, Checkfront says in 2018 slightly more than half of those bookings were made on a desktop (52.2%), with 39% made on a mobile phone and 8.7% on a tablet.
In 2018, almost half of all online direct bookings were made on mobile devices.
With the increase in same day bookings, that means consumers are waiting until in-destination to book and use their mobile device to carry that through. For suppliers, providing a mobile-optimized booking experience is imperative.
Full details in these charts: