Booking Holdings furthers digital aspirations with acquisition of FareHarbor

Booking Holdings appears to be making good on its digital aspirations with its acquisition of tours and activities tech specialist FareHarbor.

The accommodation giant, recently renamed Booking Holdings from Priceline, has made noise recently about further widening its services through ground transportation and in-destination experiences.

During fourth quarter earnings, CEO Glenn Fogel spoke of the huge potential of tours and activities and said the company was experimenting with experiences in a number of markets. He also said the company wanted to have its app at the centre of the “entire travel experience.”

In late December, news of Booking.com’s strategy to be the world’s largest digital platform for experiences emerged.

Denver-based FareHarbor, which is now five years old, offers tours and activities suppliers an online booking solution.

According to a statement, FareHarbor will operate as an independent business with its senior management team reporting into Booking.com’s leadership team.

FareHarbor is an interesting choice for Booking. The company formed a partnership with GetYourGuide in late 2015. However, GetYourGuide’s raise of $75 million last November may have put it out of reach.

Perhaps, Booking saw potential in FareHarbor’s software with the company having acquired Activity Link Systems, another tours reservation software company, in late 2016.

Terms of the deal have not be disclosed.

In the statement, Booking.com CEO Gillian Tans says:

“Today travel is fueled by technology, yet the local experiences and attractions marketplace is still largely offline.

“FareHarbor’s technology allows local tours and attractions to easily bring their businesses online.  We see an immense opportunity to leverage this technology to bring more local experiences online, benefitting the entire global travel ecosystem for both consumers and local businesses by allowing them to connect instantly through a seamless digital experience.

Booking is not the only company with aspirations in tours and activities. TripAdvisor talked of how well its activities division was faring recently. The company reported a 20% increase in total revenue for its non-hotel segment to $77 million for the quarter.

CEO Steve Kaufer talked of the “exploding’ attractions marketplace and the opportunity to educate people to book in-destination experiences in advance or via mobile.

And, then there’s Google. The company’s Area 120 experimental workshop has been working on a travel app involving local guides. It also unveiled its Trips app in 2016, which provides users with suggestions of things to do.

Asia-based giants such as Ctrip are also worth keeping an eye on for ambitions in the sector. Ctrip acquired trip.com last November signalling it would use the technology to boost Skyscanner’s personalisation push. Ctrip said Skyscanner could put “inspirational and in-trip content” in front of customers.

The tours and activities sector is expected to double in gross bookings to $27 billion in 2020 from $12 billion 2015, according to research from Phocuswright.

Related reading:

Tours and activities coming of age but still room for tantrums

FareHarbor claims a fast rise as a reservations tool for tours and activities

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About the Writer :: Linda Fox

Linda is Managing Editor for tnooz. For the past decade, she has worked as a freelance journalist across a range of B2B titles including Travolution, ABTA Magazine, Travelmole and the Business Travel Magazine. In this time she has also undertaken corporate projects for a number of high profile travel technology, travel management, and research companies. Prior to her freelance career, she covered hotels and technology news for Travel Trade Gazette for seven years. Linda joined TTG from Caterer & Hotelkeeper where she worked on the features desk for more than five years.

 

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