Douglas Quinby, Arival
"While there’s no question that several OTAs are having a significant impact on this part of travel, the role of reservation system companies should not be overlooked."
Quote from Douglas Quinby, co-founder and CEO of Arival, in an article on PhocusWire this week on consolidation in tours and activities.
Each Friday, PhocusWire dissects and debates an industry trend or new development covered on our site that week.
The vast majority of reservation systems in tours and activities, rightly or wrongly, do not get much exposure in the press.
Some do when they raise an investment round, or they get acquired by a big player, as has been illustrated in that sector over the last 18 months or so.
This is not to diminish what they do, of course - but illustrates that they are part of a huge system of plumbing that underpins tours and activities in the same way that countless vendors are the technological glue in other parts of the industry.
Software suppliers, distribution platforms, technical support services and the mechanics required to power consumer-facing websites are all vital parts of the machine that ensures a product reaches the end-user.
Their role is vital and they have a story and stories of their own (including consolidation, as Douglas Quinby hints at) that take place behind the scenes and with little attention given or required.
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The reason that online travel agencies get so much attention and ignite so much debate is that they are like the people playing a complicated game of strategic, corporate chess that has an impact on every part of a sector, be it tours and activities, hotels or something else.
In the battle of the platforms that is being played out in real-time in this industry, OTAs hold considerable power and influence over both consumers and the suppliers that feed them with content.
As the - slightly modified - saying goes: when OTAs (and in that we include other types of intermediaries such as Google) sneeze, their suppliers often catch a cold.
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