As restrictions from the pandemic are lifted and travel resumes in earnest, experience travel providers are seeing a huge uptick in business, as people seek the absolute maximum from their holiday time.
Worldwide, the adventure travel business is set to soar as industry predictions see this area of travel growing by nearly 200% between 2019 and 2027. Experience travel is complex, though, as providers often need to offer highly configurable trips that include travel and accommodation options, lessons for all abilities, groups of certain minimum numbers as well as dining, evening and excursion options whilst on the trip.
The trips offered are also often off the beaten track, and the providers can be the first to attempt to offer these sorts of trips in their selected destinations.
Considering all these factors, the technology that supports the often small teams of experience providers has to work - really work - so they can deliver to their customers and build a profitable business.
We launched Mapo Tapo in August 2020, and our first trip ran on July 2021. In a nutshell, we aggregate group trips for climbers with roughly homogeneous skills to share the experience of climbing together.
We have a strong social mission, which is to give visibility to off-the-beaten-track climbing places in countries like Spain, Jordan, Italy and Croatia which have great potential and leave a positive impact on the local community.
When we first started out, our team was forced to use multiple platforms to offer our trips, which we had to stitch together ourselves. We had software for the front end, Excel on the back end (which had to be updated manually), different software to manage the shopping cart and Stripe to cover payments, and we had to write custom codes to manage minimum number group bookings.
This setup meant that every change had to be processed manually and proliferated across multiple different platforms. There was costly potential for error and significant time wasted.
Another area that was a big issue was being able to build our data insights and retarget customers that were taken to third-party websites to complete elements of their booking journey and dropped off for whatever reason.
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Data rules mean that the information about that customer was essentially lost to us because we didn’t control the whole customer journey and could not see where or why they had left the process. This was a huge issue in trying to build our business as 20 to 30% of our customer base was vanishing through the booking process.
We switched to an integrated platform offered by Easol where our website and booking system is fully connected. It also means that all our content and inventory are now seamlessly managed in one place.
The platform gives us options and features which allow us to easily offer additional aspects of the trip that are available. For example, there could be an extension to a climb that is only available at certain times of the year or a particular guide that people want to book. Travelers can now add those options on to their trip as part of the booking process and every experience can be truly tailored.
Upselling also becomes easier, and having everything integrated means that the customer gets a much smoother and better designed booking experience. We can now also give customers the option to pay in installments, which allows people to spread the cost of their trip into manageable segments.
Switching from multiple platforms to one immediately saved us a significant amount of time. I would estimate around a day per trip which is huge. At a time when flight cancellations are happening on a daily basis, that admin and reorganization time would have been crippling but we can now cope with it easily.
The big win is that our customers now stay on our website right throughout their entire booking journey and we now fully own our customer data which allows us to retarget much more effectively and accurately, as well as be on hand to engage and address any queries people may have as they go through the booking process.
Having a one-stop shop for our travel business has delivered us a significantly more sophisticated level of insight into how our business is doing and gives us back time to focus on putting on more unique trips for our rapidly growing community.
About the author...
Daniele Calvo Pollino is co-founder and CEO of Mapo Tapo