Reflecting back on day 2 of Arival 360 and the Ask Me Anything session with Douglas Quinby and Johannes Reck, CEO and Co-Founder at OTA GetYourGuide, these are 16 key takeaways that stood out for me.
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1. The $133m convertible note announced today does not change the valuation of GetYourGuide.
2. Despite the pandemic, investors are still hungry to invest in experiences.
3. Johannes feels there will be a slow rebound of tourism in 2021 but it will still be very close to home.
‘I know people will not go all out and cross the Atlantic Ocean and explore faraway countries. I think they will be rather, sticking to what they know. maybe re-exploring, their own country, crossing the border to a neighboring country in Europe.
‘I think we’ll see a boom in US domestic travel, next year, which you know, is a great opportunity. I think for a lot of tour operators on both sides of the Atlantic.’
4. Johannes Reck refuted Douglas’s Quinby’s question that if bookings are going to be local then there won’t be as much need for OTAs.
Reck explained that the vast majority of GetYourGuide content this year has been accessed by mobile devices. He feels that activity and tour operators can profit from GetYourGuide’s experience when it comes to converting bookings from smartphone users.
5. On the GetYourGuide platform, travelers are looking for smaller group tours, with distancing, masks, and strong hygiene measures.
Travelers are also curious as to what experiences and attractions are still open and operating as they look for things to do.
6. Johannes ‘cannot confirm that we haven’t been accepting new products’ during COVID 10.
‘We’re just very selective in the curation of our products.’ This runs contrary to what some of our listeners and members have been told by GYG staff.
7. On the topic of curation, Johannes cited Netflix as an excellent example of what GetYourGuide is trying to do.
‘Netflix is not about having, all of the movies that exist, or, amateur stuff on the platform, but it’s about very high-quality content because Netflix knows that the most important KPI for them to succeed is to really get viewers excited and wanting to come back the next evening.’
8. Johannes Reck believes that GYG Originals helps all its suppliers to win more business and that the GetYourGuide platform is not competing directly with its own suppliers.
“So there’s no preferencing, there’s nothing where we try to, you know, to make the product better than the rest. What we really try to do is to continue to differentiate. So it’s different from the rest of the marketplace and is a value add service that we learned from, and then roll it back out to the marketplace.
9. Arival’s Douglas Quinby was much stronger in this interview than the AMA with Viator chief Ben Drew.
Douglas pushed back on this answer, citing the recent WSJ reporting of Amazon allegedly using data from its own marketplace to create its own products to compete with key suppliers on the Amazon marketplace.
Johannes Reck hit back saying that ‘we gave originals an initial boost to get traffic to the product so we could evaluate the worth of the product and whether it works with customers. We have overhauled our entire search and discovery experience this year. It’s not launched yet. It will come, in the coming weeks. And I can promise you we will treat Originals fairly, with regards to the rest of the marketplace.”
10. Although Johannes Reck has been critical of Google he does not consider them an enemy.
He continued: ‘ We are calling them out when they are overstepping. And I think that is also the right thing to do, as it is in a good relationship, I have no beef with Google as an organization, there are lots of talented people. We grow, we get fantastic support from them on the ground, and we have grown our business together.
You know, GetYourGuide wouldn’t be here at the same scale without Google. And I would say Google would have earned a lot less revenue in the sector without us. So, I think it’s very synergistic, however, Google is the fundamental search engine with 90% market share across Europe and 75% plus of all European and US travelers are consulting Google for travel advice.
I do think there are limits to where you should go, in terms of, what you offer to customers. so you cannot take our cash essentially, as an advertiser and our content, and then rebuild our product. And that, that is what I mean with overstepping. We do want Google to continue to, delight customers, but not at our expense.’
11. Johannes defended the GYG commission levels
‘I believe our commission levels are fair. I can tell you that we haven’t raised commission rates across the board for years while we have delivered a lot more business to our suppliers.’
12. He also defended the company’s decision to stop sharing the booker’s contact details with the operator.
‘You can contact the customer.’ Reck refuted. ‘The only difference is that you cannot, take the customer’s email anymore and you don’t get automatic access to it like you could before. It’s not compliant with the law in a lot of countries. It’s also not good for the customer because in many instances, and I’m not blaming anyone specific here, but we do know that it happened. The email would get out. It would be on a mailing distribution list. That was something that customers were not pleased with. so what we did was just to build an email relay. So, you know, if you, as a supplier and want to contact the customer. You can write to a temporary, GetYourGuide email address, and that will get forwarded to the customer.
At this point, several operators in the chat which accompanied the AMA’sspeculated on whether this was the actual reason for the GYG policy change.
13. When challenged on why it is taking so long for operators to make changes to their listing to comply with local regulations, Johannes responded that all GYG staff should be back to work (from home, not the office he was quick to point out) in January. He is confident this will lead to quicker response times.
14. Hygiene and Safety Measures will feature more heavily on the GYG platform soon. Reck also urged operators to offer more last-minute availability and flexible cancellation policies if they want to attract more bookings from GYG customers.
15. Virtual experiences and tours are not a part of a GetYourGuide long term strategy.
Reck also said that he would be ‘surprised’ if virtual tours and experiences are a part of Amazon’s long term strategy.
16. Tripadvisor…a future partner?
To round off the AMA with Johannes, Douglas Quinby played a word association game. There were virtual gasps when Johannes answered ‘future partner’ to the word ‘Tripadvisor’. Intriguing!
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“Our future is bright. In the rebound, which predominantly happened in Europe this summer, we were rebounding well ahead of the local market. you know, gaining market share by two, three X and every destination that we were in, we had plenty of European destinations where we were this year actually above last year.”
Johannes Reck, CEO, GetYourGuide