THE tour and activities sector is the fastest growing part of the global travel industry, with bookings predicted to reach $183 billion in TTV in 2020. Putting that into perspective, it represents 10% of the total global travel market, surpassed only by airlines (40%) and hotels (23%).

The expansion has attracted plenty of interest from technology companies, who are aiming to leverage innovations by helping the proliferation of operators simplify the booking and availability process. Australian-founded Livn Group is a key player in the sector, with its platform providing connections through a wide variety of reservation systems to a unified API, working closely with suppliers to expand their distribution to a global audience.

Livn’s deep links with the sector have enabled the company to collate significant amounts of intelligence, which last month saw the company release its inaugural Tour & Activities Insights report.

Over a period of three months, Livn’s analysts created a unified database, collating the product sets from major online distributors and more than 20 connected reservation systems to identify similarities and trends across over 150,000 products.

The company said the results confirm that the global tour & activities sector is thriving. Moreover, a range of “interesting” pricing and marketing trends have emerged, which in turn highlight strategies that operators can use to improve their yield and business performance.

“Value-based differentiation within each niche is the key to tour operators commanding a premium price for their products,” according to Anders Liljeqvist, Livn Head of Global Product.

He told travelBulletin that while there was an ongoing proliferation of similar products in each market, the insights indicated opportunities to grow business by taking a value-driven “niche within a niche” approach.

“There is huge competition for customer attention for certain ‘busy’ keywords,” Liljeqvist said, with many operators potentially paying too much for search engine results.

“There are 100 or so words that they should avoid using in order to avoid unnecessary competition for search rankings,” he added.

The report analyses the over 19 million words used to describe the 150,000 products in the database, finding that most tour operators try to promote their offerings using words such as “private tour”, “local guide” and “hotel pickup”.

“Since thousands of other tour operators are using the same technology to describe their experiences, an operator trying to stand out from the crowd should consider using synonyms to describe their content,” the Livn executive noted.

He suggested alternatives such as offering a “custom sightseeing walk” rather than a “private tour”, or saying that “your host grew up in the region” instead of marketing a “local guide”.

Creating authentic and unique products is also a way of commanding a premium price, Livn highlighted. An analysis of 3,800 Australian products highlighted a huge disparity in pricing for products such as surf lessons — costing between $32 and $260 — and wine experiences, which spanned from $20 to $1,650. The case study indicated the power of a unique offering and authenticity, such as with the Bondi Walking Tour which offers a tour with a real “Bondi Lifeguard” and behind-the-scenes tours of the beach seen in the TV show Bondi Rescue.

Even with products such as skydiving which are difficult to make unique, the Livn report shows the benefit of creating unique products such as an “adrenaline” experience providing military-style jumps to experienced skydivers or those looking for an extra thrill. Another option can be to combine niche experiences together to make them more exclusive — such as linking a walking tour with a photography class to help visitors get the most Instagram-worthy shots in the best locations.


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