Expedia to grow tour and activity channel, no more palm trees and price points

Expect a major expansion from Expedia in the coming months as it turns its attention to increasing revenue and the range of products from ancillaries.

expedia activities

At a global level the online travel agency is plotting a massive increase in the number of tour and activity services products available on the site.

The company will not share current product volume or revenues, either by type or country, but some figures close to the strategy were predicting a few months ago that tour and activity products globally and the Local Expert virtual concierge pilot in the US would hopefully generate around $1 billion in gross bookings a year by 2015.

Officially, Expedia sees the focus on its tour and activity products as part of a wider strategy to change the perception of the online travel agency as a flight, hotel, car hire and package holiday-focused service.

Andy Washington, the new managing director for the UK, says Expedia is no longer “just about palm trees and price points”, with a concerted effort being put in to positioning the brand as an “end-to-end travel service”.

The most significant way of doing this is to increase the range of valuable (both commercially and consumer proposition) in-destination services for purchase at the same time as the “commoditised” flight and hotel products on the site.

Expedia, of course, has been in this area for quite some time, but is clearly making a big play to tap further into the growth around tour and activity products being sold via the web.

Washington will not go as far to to say Expedia sees tours and activities as the next significant – and still relatively untapped at a mass-market level – frontier in online travel, but admits technology has played a major part in recent years in bringing suppliers closer to consumers for bookings.

But the growth of the larger activity OTAs such as Viator and Isango, alongside the myriad of startups entering the sector such as PocketVillage [TLabs], Flextrip [TLabs] and GetYourGuide [TLabs], illustrates that there is certainly now some degree of bounty to be had.

Still to be determined, Washington says, is exactly how the expansion will come about, whether its through contracting individually with suppliers (in the same way the company handles hotels) or partnering with a technology providers such as Rezgo or TourCMS to handle some elements of the connectivity required.

Expedia’s soon-to-be ex-sister brand TripAdvisor penned a deal with GetYourGuide in March this year to ramp up the user review giant’s tour and activity offering.

NB: Disclosure – bosses of Rezgo and TourCMS are both Tnooz Nodes.

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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.



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  1. Valyn Perini

    I agree with Peter on several counts. Yes, this was always going to happen, and yes, the technology providers are the innovators and heavy lifters in this segment – the operators are too busy running their rafting/biking/etc trips to build connectivity to distribution channels.

    I can foresee some commoditization for non-perishable activities with lots of competitors in the space – walking tours of London, for example. But for the multi-day tours that require research and planning on the part of the customer, and have limited inventory – rafting trips down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, for example – it will be much harder to commoditize that type of trip.

    Exposure of tours and activities on the larger distribution channels is definitely a double-edged sword, and the winners will be those operators who fully understand the impact of using a channel with such a broad reach. The losers will be those operators who think that distributing via Expedia will make them rich.

  2. Stephen Joyce

    Stephen Joyce

    — putting on Rezgo hat —

    Bottom line, this is a good thing for the sector. It will put more pressure on small operators to start thinking about distribution, automation, and online reservations. The more operators that automate and use inventory management systems, the more distribution opportunities will develop.

    — taking off Rezgo hat and putting on OpenTravel hat —

    Expedia putting more emphasis on tours and activities means that standard messaging will be more important than ever. More distribution channels and more technology providers without a common method for connecting them means increased headaches for integration and inhibits sharing of data. I hope Expedia considers playing some role in the creation and proliferation of standard messaging.

  3. Peter Syme

    It was always going to happen. Adventure travel is still growing in leaps and bounds and these big distributors know there is more margin in it than in normal travel products.

    I see both benefits and negatives. The benefits are obviously increased distribution and sales for small operators. The negatives are that the last thing the adventure travel industry wants or needs is for our tours and activities to become commodities.

    How will they do it? I strongly suspect they will partner with tech providers as you suggest. Small operators just do not have time to upload content onto lots and lots of different travel sites. Much better to do it on to a reservation system and let that be pulled through.


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