7 Key Takeaways from Arival’s latest research on the tours and activities industry.

Arival recently released its first paid for research report on the tours, activities, and attractions industry sector, titled ‘Arival Experience Revolution’.

Last weekend, I purchased the report and in this post, I will share with you what I learned from the Arival research and whether it is right for you.

Why did Arival release this report?

Arival writes that ‘operators need insights to understand our industry, where it is headed and what the future looks like.’

Douglas Quinby, CEO of Arival told us via email that ‘this report is actually just the first in a series of reports, we plan on different topics geared to different audiences.

This research is intended to give everyone a sense of the total market and where they fit and priced to be accessible to everyone, and of interest to everyone.

We will be producing a series of reports as well to provide actionable benchmarks on a variety of topics to different operator segments.’

Who did Arival interview to build this report?

Arival surveyed almost 7,000 activity, attraction and tour operators, received 549 responses from OTA and Tech executives and interviewed 20 tour/activity/attraction operators.

So Shane, What did you learn from this latest research?

Arival projects a global market size of US$254 billion for 2019 for operators of tours, activities, and attractions.

Most research on the tours and activities industries estimated the value at around $180 billion so this is a big jump.

The Global In-Destination Industry will not return to pre-COVID levels until 2023.

Ouch! Arival does provide us with a forecast model showing 4 phases of recovery. The report also gives advice on likely near-term trends post-COVID.

86% of the nearly 1 million tour and activities operators worldwide sell less than $250k annually.

Most of our listeners and readers are in this bracket.

Half of all operators were founded in the last 5 years.

Sales are mainly offline. Operators sold $44 billion of sales of tours, activities, and attractions online in 2019 through their own websites and Online Travel Agencies.

That is only 17% of sales coming via online channels.

I wonder what this percentage would be without attractions. Most attractions have established relationships with many offline channels.

We urge Arival to remove attractions from all future reports and keep the data separate so we can read a true picture of the tours and activities sector. I am sure this would be appreciated by our friends in the Attractions industry as well.

I am also curious about the geographical breakdown, would love to see the % per continent (even better per major market. I know, I am asking a lot of a $29 report.)

More than half of all operators do not engage in standard, even free digital marketing.

Wow, we have a lot of work to do here, this motivates me to deliver you more digital marketing content, especially advice about free and low-cost online marketing.

The vast majority of operators are not focused on aggressive growth, and for 15%, it’s just a lifestyle.

Most tour operators we have interviewed on the podcast started their tour business based on their passion, and their aim is to make a living not a million dollars.

OK Shane, all good stuff to know but what are the actionables?

Arival on Digital Marketing.

Arival claims that more than half of tour operators are not working on SEO, not posting for free on social media, not using Facebook ads, and surprisingly are not optimizing their Google My Business listing.

Is this you?  Well don’t be embarrassed, just let me know where you are struggling, and let’s see what experts we can invite onto the Tourpreneur Podcast to help us out ok?

Arival on OTAs

Arival claims that OTAs are the ‘fastest growing channel’ and acknowledge that the rise of commission charges has led to frustration among activity and tour operators.

They also recommend operators should:

1) Evaluate the terms and opportunities of each OTA separately and determine if it makes sense for their business.

2) Be prepared to compete aggressively on each platform as more operators sign up on OTAs to get more bookings post-Covid.’

In future reports, I would like to see more data on which OTAs are performing well based on each type of tour business as well as geographic strengths. I would also value data on the impact of GYG Originals.

Also, we need to remember, OTAs are in this to make money and will cherry-pick who they want to list on their platform, they demand best in class for each tour/activity type.

Not every OTA will want to work with you and will decide on criteria such as availability, cancellation policies, and of course how profitable you will be for them.

Shane’s History of East Berlin’s Punk Music Walking tour is not going to be as attractive to an OTA as Shane’s Statue of Liberty tour for instance.

So should I buy this report, Shane?

If you are interested in top-line market overview research then yes, buy it, plus you will be supporting Arival who could use our help right now. ($29 is reasonable for research, go and have a look at the cost of industry reports over at Phocuswright.)

If you are looking for more detailed data on your sector of the industry then this is likely not for you.

My major reservation with the report is the inclusion of Attractions data, I want to see numbers broken down for the tours and activities industry because the inclusions of attractions muddies the water.

Purchase the Arival Experience Revolution Report.

“If an operator is unsure of whether it’s worth it, the best thing they can do is to watch my online presentation of key findings here – This is free and if operators find value in that, perhaps they will think the report is worthwhile.”

Douglas Quinby, Arival