Sightseeing Buses and Vehicle Tours

Part
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Part
01

City Sightseeing - SWOT Analysis

Operating a sophisticated online booking system, the ability to work with local bus operators through a franchise model, "the synonymous red and yellow branding on double-deck open-top buses," and more, are some strengths of City Sightseeing.

Strengths

  • City Sightseeing has over 100 locations worldwide spanning across six of the seven continents. This strength allows the tour bus operator to offer services to tourists and visitors to some of the world’s top destinations.
  • The operator's brand is unique to its competitors, as pertains to the design of its tour buses. The buses, "purpose-built low-floor open-top double-deck, have synonymous red and yellow branding."
  • City Sightseeing has a sophisticated online booking system that allows visitors to book some of the world’s top destinations at their ease and comfort.
  • The City Sightseeing (CS) growth is the result of the business model in place - the franchise model which is "a combination of local bus operators introducing the brand, the re-branding of existing open-top tours or new business start-ups." This allows the local operators to introduce the right infrastructure to suit their locality while receiving full support from CS.

Weaknesses

Opportunities

  • There is an opportunity for City Sightseeing to reach and attract new customers in new locations, spreading the risk of doing business. The operator planned to attract new customers (tourists and visitors) in new destinations, "including Beirut in Lebanon; Seoul in South Korea; and Larnaca and Ayia Napa in Cyprus," in 2019.
  • City Sightseeing also has the ability to open additional destinations and expand internationally. For example, they are working to "launch other new operations in South East Asia, South America, and North America" in the future.
  • There's an opportunity for City Sightseeing to form affiliated relationships with similar travel brands at different locations to serve their customers better, "speed brand and product recognition, and deliver substantial new revenue." Currently, the tour operator has partnered with Discover the World, Toronto Waterfront Festival, Star Coach Services, Hilton, Moose Travel Network, and more.

Threats

  • Different regulations for different regions and their changes can impact the City Sightseeing business. Since the operator focuses on offering tour buses around the world, this constitutes to obtaining proper licenses or regulatory clearance before operation and paying the required tax. Some of these laws could be very stiff, thus hindering entry into certain markets.
  • Customer reviews are powerful marketing tactics for the service sector, especially the tourism and travel industry. Negative reviews can, therefore, harm City Sightseeing reputation, leading to potential customers trusting the business less. For example, in Trust Pilot; a review site, City Sightseeing has a rating of 3.6 out 5, from 6,819 customer reviews.
Part
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Part
02

Sightseeing Bus Companies and Private Vehicle Tour - Part 1

Columns B-C in the “Sightseeing Buses” tab of the attached spreadsheet have been completed. City Sightseeing operates in over 105 cities across 35 countries. Grey Line operates in over 700 cities across 40 countries.

Selected Findings

Part
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Part
03

Sightseeing Bus Companies and Private Vehicle Tour - Part 2

Where available, the business model, revenue, number of users, target client base, locations, tagline, value proposition, and brand affiliations or partnerships for Big Bus Tours and Tour Contrastes de Nueva York have been provided in column D of the "Sightseeing Buses" tab and column B of the "Private Vehicle Tours" tab in the attached spreadsheet.

Summary of Findings

Helpful Insights

Research Strategy

We were not able to find the number of users for Big Bus Tours, and the revenue, number of users and brand affiliations or partnerships for Tour Contrastes de Nueva York. We started by checking the company websites, together with the 'About Us' sections, which usually contain in-depth information about a company. Using this strategy, we were only able to find the business model, target client base, locations, taglines and value propositions for the two companies.

Next we looked through business information sites such as Crunchbase, Owler, Hoovers and Zoominfo, which usually contain detailed coverage of companies including revenue, competitors and news, among others. We were hoping that we would find the missing information from these sources. However, we were only able to find the revenue for Big Bus Tours. Tour Contrastes de Nueva York did not have any information provided by these sources. Moreover, due to the fact that Big Bus Tours has a mobile application, we checked Sensor Tower to see how many people use the application. However, we were only able to get the number of people who downloaded the application in October 2019, which is not an accurate estimate of the number of people who actually went on the tours. We have provided this information as a helpful insight.

Lastly, we decided to check news sites for the information that was still missing. We checked sites such as NASDAQ, Financial Times, Sur Digital and Hoy.es, among others, which contained information on the two companies. However, this strategy did not provide us with all the required information as we were only able to get information on partnerships for Big Bus Tours, and no relevant information for Tour Contrastes de Nueva York.

The website for Tour Contrastes de Nueva York is in the Spanish language, so we translated it to English using Google Translate in order to get the required information.
Part
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Part
04

Private Vehicle Tours - Competitors

Vale Tour and High Quality Tour are two competitors of Tour Contrastes de Nueva York. High Quality Tour was founded in 2014. Further details are provided in the attached spreadsheet.

  • The link to Vale Tour's company website can be accessed here.
  • The link to High Quality Tour's website can be accessed here.
  • High Quality Tour was founded in 2014.
  • Vale Tour has more than 10-years of experience

Research Strategy

To determine two competitors of Tour Contrastes de Nueva York, we began our search by looking for competitors of Tour Contrastes de Nueva York through company databases such as Craft.co and Crunchbase, among others. This search strategy was not successful because the company does not have a profile on any of the databases. Thus, we continued our search by looking for articles on top private vehicle tours companies. This search provided several companies that offer private vehicle tours in cities around the world, but none of these companies offered services in the same city or route as Tour Contrastes de Nueva York. Thus, they were not direct competitors of Tour Contrastes de Nueva York. Therefore, we changed our search strategy by looking for companies in or around New York that offer private vehicle tours in the same regions or cities as Tour Contrastes de Nueva York. This search provided us with Vale Tour, High Quality Tour, Tour Gordon, New York City Tours, Best New York City Tours, and others.

We compiled a list of these companies, and we continued our search by looking through each company's website to determine the two best companies offering private vehicle tours in the same cities or regions and the same language options as Tour Contrastes de Nueva York. This search left us with Vale Tour and High Quality Tour. Thus, we provided the names and websites of these companies as two competitors of Tour Contrastes de Nueva York.

We were not able to find the founding year for Vale Tour. We began our search by looking through the company's website to determine its founding year. Through this search, we only found that Vale Tour has more than 10-years of experience in the business, but no information was available about the founding year.

We continued our search by looking through company databases, such as Zoominfo, Crunchbase, and Pitchbook, among others to view the profile of Vale Tour, hoping that we would be able to determine the year it was founded. However, this search did not yield this information as this company does not have any profile in these databases.

Next, we searched through media publications such as Forbes and Bloomberg and research databases such as MarketResearch, MarketsandMarket, among others. Here, we hoped to identify the founding year of Vale Tour through previous publication and profiling reports that may have been carried out by third-party researchers. However, all efforts applied to identify the information through this approach was futile.

Finally, we attempted to identify the founding date of Vale Tour by scouring through the company's social media profiles. Our search efforts were able to identify Facebook as the only social media handle. However, a review of the account failed to identify any data on the founding date.

Therefore, we assumed that this information is not available on public media since the company has never made it public. The website for Vale Tour is in the Spanish language, so we translated it to English using Google Translate in order to get the required information.
Part
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Part
05

Sightseeing Bus Companies and Private Vehicle Tour - Part 3

Information regarding Vale Tour and High Quality Tours has been provided in columns C and D in the Private Vehicle Tours tab of the attached spreadsheet. Below is a summary of the key findings.

Summary of Findings

  • Vale Tour offers guided visits to Spanish-speaking people in the United States. The company provides its services in New York, Niagara Falls, Boston, Washington DC, and Philadelphia.
  • The company's target client base includes Spanish and Portuguese-speaking people in the US.
  • Vale Tour's tagline is ""Leading tourism company for Spanish speakers in the United States."
  • Conversely, High Quality Tour offers tours across iconic sights in New York. The company specializes in luxury packages that include sightseeing excursions, special events, and cultural explorations.
  • The company targets luxury travelers visiting New York.

Research Strategy

While we found most of the information, we did not find the revenue, number of users, and the partnerships for Vale Tour and High Quality Tours. We first attempted looking at the websites of the two companies for this information. However, the websites only highlighted the business models of the companies and the locations they served.

Since we could not find any official information regarding the revenue, users, and partnerships by the companies, we attempted to look at media platforms, such as Forbes, Businesswire, and Bloomberg. We hoped to get useful insights from company executives but to no avail. These sources did not provide any coverage about the two companies. A deeper search into media platforms in New York such as the New York Post and New York Daily News proved to be futile since the companies did not have any stories on these sites as well.

As a last resort, we attempted to look at data aggregators, such as Crunchbase and Owler. We hoped that these sources would give us some insights on the missing information but to no avail. These sites did not have any information on Vale Tours and High Quality Tours. Therefore, we made the assumption that the information is not available in the public domain. A probable reason why this is so is that the companies are private and, therefore, not obligated to provide financial information, partnerships, and their number of customers to the public.


Part
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Part
06

Gray Line - SWOT Analysis

Gray Line has over 100 years of experience in the industry, enabling them to know offer quality services. An aspect that could threaten the company is the high taxation in the tourism sector. More information regarding this company's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats is provided below.

Strengths

  • Gray Line has over 700 locations worldwide spanning across six of the seven continents. This strength allows the tour bus operator to offer services to tourists and visitors to some world’s top destinations.
  • Gray Line has over 100 years of experience in the industry, enabling them to know offer quality services to people in Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, Los Angeles, San Francisco, as well as internationally to Toronto and Havana.
  • Gray Line City Sightseeing has a sophisticated online booking system that allows visitors to book some of the world’s top destinations at their ease and comfort.
  • The company's global network of "elite providers operates day tours, airport transfers, hop-on hop-off tours, multi-day packages, walking tours and other specialized destination services."

Weakness

  • Sightseers are not happy with the general knowledge of some tour guards, as some are not so well-informed about the destinations visited. According to clients' reviews, some tour providers end up telling tourist stories about their personal lives which is very irrelevant to them.
  • The company's tour providers lack a proper medium and time of communication when a tour is canceled, there is also no timely refund upon tour cancellation. According to a client's review, "Tour was canceled and charge not returned. I learn about cancellation when called tour provider. Gray Line promised refund and it didn't happen."
  • The company spends long hours (up to 4hours) picking tourists before the actual trip, making clients exhausted and bored before arriving at their tour destination. From different customer reviews, it appears a lengthy period is being spent on the way of making the tour unnecessarily prolonged.

Opportunities

  • The global tourism industry is estimated to increase 1.5% annually over the five years to 2019. Specifically, countries in Asia and South America have experienced significant growth in per capita income. This could mean an opportunity for Gray Line Tours to expand in these geographic regions.
  • There's an opportunity for Gray Line to form affiliated relationships with similar travel brands at different locations to serve their customers better, "speed brand and product recognition, and deliver substantial new revenue." Currently, the tour operator has partnered with Vibram Hong Kong.

Threats

  • According to research, tourism is one of the most taxed sectors. High taxation could affect the business operation of Gray Line, as it often puts pressure on companies to also increase their prices.
  • Hence several of the vehicles used by industry operators use diesel, changes in the price of this fuel may affect the company's revenue. When prices of diesel increase, operators' costs also rise, having to increase ticket prices and thus affecting price-conscious customers.
Part
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Part
07

Big Bus Tours - SWOT Analysis

Big Bus Tours provides service to around 6 million tourists annually. An aspect that could threaten the company is the constant change in diesel prices. More information regarding this company's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats is provided below.

Strengths

  • Big Bus Tours is the largest operator of open-top sightseeing bus tours in the world, providing services in 23 cities across four continents. The company gives service to approximately 6 million tourists per year.
  • In 2015, the firm Exponent purchased the company, and in 2016, Merlin Entertainments PLC became a shareholder, which expanded the company's services to Merlin's attractions and experiences.
  • In 2017, Big Bus Tours signed a strategic partnership agreement with the Chinese company Ctrip.com International, which allows "over 300 million users to directly book with Big Bus Tours."
  • The company has an app that provides tour highlights, city guides, maps, and real-time bus tracking.
  • Its team is composed by international members, which makes it able to offer customers "the opportunity to really live like a local" in each city in which the company operates.

Weaknesses

  • According to the company's site and customer reviews, if a customer loses his or her ticket, he/she must purchase a new ticket. This makes customers frustrated, as not even an ID verification or credit card purchase are required when a ticket is lost.
  • Customers are not happy with the general knowledge of the staff, as according to them, some staff members are well-trained and others are not.

Opportunities

  • Usage of alternative energy is a current trend in the sightseeing transportation market to control pollution. Also, other transportation companies are increasingly taking these measures to help the environment and reduce costs. This could be an opportunity for the company to add more eco-friendly buses to its fleet, which now has only 10% of its fleet made up of all-electric vehicles in Washington DC and one bus in Paris.
  • The global tourism industry is expected to increase 1.5% annually over the five years to 2019. Specifically, countries in Asia and South America have experienced significant growth in per capita income. This could mean an opportunity for Big Bus Tours to expand in these geographic regions.

Threats

  • Since many of the vehicles used by industry operators use diesel, changes in the price of this fuel may affect the company's revenue. When prices of diesel increase, operators' costs also rise, having to increase ticket prices.
  • As all sightseeing buses are double-deckers, they are difficult to operate and maneuver. This may cause from minor to major accidents along the way. "Any mistake the driver makes could result in catastrophic injuries," which could lead to serious lawsuits.
Part
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Part
08

Tour Contrastes de Nueva York - SWOT Analysis

The ability to offer various means for booking tours, affordable prices, licensed and professional guides, and leveraging over two decades of experience in the industry, are some strengths of Tour Contrastes de Nueva York.

Strengths

  • Tour Contrastes de Nueva York has two decades of experience in the industry, enabling them to know New York in detail and offer quality service.
  • Additionally, they have a Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor — "TripAdvisor awards the Certificate of Excellence to those accommodations, restaurants, and attractions that constantly receive excellent opinions from travelers."
  • Tour Contrastes de Nueva York offers a professional guide in Spanish and transportation during the entire tour in a modern bus or mini bus for only $49, making it very affordable. Its prices are among the best in New York City.
  • The company's guides are "licensed, professional, and fun and will accompany visitors throughout the tour, giving them a comprehensive explanation of the city and attractions."
  • Tour Contrastes de Nueva York has the ability to offer tourists various means for booking tours. Trips can be reserved online at their official website, by email or directly by phone.

Weaknesses

  • Trips with Tour Contrastes de Nueva York are only possible on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and includes departure at 8:45 am with a return at 1:30 pm. Unfortunately, such a schedule excludes tourists who wish to visit the attractions on Wednesdays, Sundays, or in the afternoon.
  • Tours are offered in Spanish; therefore, there appears to be no provision for the English-speaking population under Tour Contrastes de Nueva York's business model. This strategy could be limiting the company's ability to generate revenue from other streams.

Opportunities

  • Currently, Tour Contrastes de Nueva York targets the Spanish speaking tourists visiting New York. Additionally, although the price is affordable, it excludes perks for meals, drinks, and tips. Therefore, Tour Contrastes' opportunity is in expanding its offering by providing tours in multiple languages and designing the pricing system to include perks for meals and drinks in order to reach new customers.
  • There's an opportunity for Tour Contrastes to expand its attractions in New York, currently including the George Washington Bridge, the Hudson River, Yankee Stadium, Brooklyn Bridge, and Multicultural Neighborhoods. There are several top-rated tourist attractions in New York City, which are of interest to tourists visiting the region.
  • There's also an opening for Tour Contrastes de Nueva York to cater to new customers who wish to visit the attractions outside of the company's operation schedule, which includes Wednesdays, Sundays, or during the afternoon.

Threats

  • Customer reviews are powerful marketing tools for the service sector, especially the tourism and travel industry. Tour Contrastes de Nueva York has a rating of 4 out 5, from 111 customer reviews in Trip Advisor. Any negative review can harm the company's reputation, leading to potential customers trusting the business less.
  • Tour Contrastes de Nueva York positions itself in the minds of the customers as the "best tour contract of New York with the best price." Should the company increase the price, it might lose price-conscious customers.
Part
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of ten
Part
09

Player 1 - SWOT Analysis

Vale Tour provides traveling and tourism excursion services 365 days a year. An aspect that could threaten the company is the high tax rate on Tourism in New York, where the company's most popular attractions are located. More information regarding Vale Tour's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats is provided below.

Strengths

  • Visitors to the United States and Canada choose Vale Tour "for efficiency, mysticism, and the best aptitude when it comes to serving clients, both Spanish and Portuguese speaking."
  • Vale Tour, unlike the competitor, Tour Contrastes de Nueva York, offers excursions in three languages — Spanish, English, and Portuguese. This strength enables the company to skirt the language barrier and offer services to tourists and visitors from the diverse backgrounds.
  • Additionally, Vale Tour's traveling and tourism excursion services are available "365 days a year to provide the best customer service."
  • The company also positions itself in the minds of the customers as the "leading tourism company for Spanish speakers, working with the best team in New York City."

Weaknesses

  • Vale Tour lacks the web presence, marketing, and promotion initiatives to enable it to compete against competitors. Most of the information available about the company is present on the official website, which is designed to show, briefly, the excursions offered, as well as enable online booking.
  • With regard to marketing and promotion, there's no evidence, in the public domain, suggesting that the company conducts initiatives aimed at speeding brand and product recognition.

Opportunities

  • Africa is the second-fastest-growing tourism destination in the World, growing 5.6% in 2018, "representing a rise of 7% from a year earlier." Specifically, Portuguese-speaking African countries such as Mozambique and Cape Verde have benefited from this increase, according to the Euromonitor International consultancy. This could mean an opportunity for Vale Tour to expand into these geographic regions to serve English-speaking visitors, since "someone who speaks their own language and interprets their expectations in a foreign place is vital both for their comfort and satisfaction."
  • The usage of alternative energy is a current sustainability trend in the sightseeing transportation market to control pollution. Also, other transportation companies are increasingly taking these measures to help the environment and reduce costs. This could be an opportunity for Vale Tour to add more eco-friendly cars to its fleet.

Threats

  • According to research, tourism is one of the most taxed sectors in New York, where Vale Tour's popular sites are located. For example, "the hotel tax is 13.25% plus $2 per room per night, and the parking garage tax is a whopping 18.25%." High taxation could affect the business operation of Vale Tour, as it often puts pressure on tourists who might have restrictions for visiting NY.
  • Vale Tour uses "sedan, vans, SUV or limousine cars according to the requirements of the customer or companies," and most of these vehicles use diesel; changes in the price of this fuel may affect the company's revenue. When prices of diesel increase, operators' costs also rise, having to increase ticket prices, putting them at the risk of losing price-conscious consumers.
Part
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Part
10

Player 2 - SWOT Analysis

High Quality Tours specializes in luxury tours in New York City and is known for its highly professional service and carefully planned itinerary. However, the tour operator still has an extremely limited and parochial geographical reach in terms of its operations. It just operates and offers its services in NYC which limits its revenue opportunities.

A) Strengths

  • High Quality Tours specializes in luxury tours in New York City and is known for its highly professional service and carefully planned itinerary.
  • The company received a '2018 Certificate of Excellence' from Trip Advisor for featuring great reviews from travelers. Nearly 94% of the reviews of the Company (271 out of 287) fall under 'Excellent' & 'Very Good' categories, corroborating the excellent customer service offered by the tour operator.
  • The company offers a wide range of luxury options to choose from, including Cadillac Escalades, Mercedes-Benz, Mercedes Freightliner Federal Mini Coach buses, traveler buses equipped with a 52 plasma flat screen television, and private cars fully customized with parquet floors and black cushioned leather interior captains chairs.
  • Another of the key strengths of the company is its multilingual support, including languages such as Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Hebrew, Russian, Japanese, and others upon request.
  • High Quality Tours also offers wheel chair-accessible tours to its customers, which includes a private chauffeur and a private tour guide.

B) Weaknesses

  • As the company was founded in 2014, it does not have an extensive experience in the tours and travel space. It also operates in a very niche segment of luxury travel, which further limits its reach due to their premium pricing.
  • High Quality Tours' revenue has been declining recently, going from $9.4 million in Q3 of 2018 to $4.8 million in Q3 of 2019.

C) Opportunities

  • Expand the company operations to other US cities and internationally would greatly benefit the tour operator.
  • Similarly, tapping into the other classes of travelers will also increase its revenue and make it more competitive.
  • Using alternative energies is a current trend in the sightseeing transportation market to control pollution, which could be something that High Quality Tours can look towards to boost its operating margins and be more attractive to the younger customers.
  • The company also lacks any brand partnerships or meaningful local tie-ups. It has an opportunity to form affiliated relationships with similar travel brands at different locations to serve its customers better.

D) Threats

  • According to Market Research, over the past 3 years, the scenic and sightseeing transportation industry in the US has averaged an annual growth of -1.6%.
  • The travel and tourism industry in US is already taxed at a higher rate than the average by 0.5 percentage points or a 15% of its GDP, which means that future tax regulations can prove to be a threat to the company's net margins.
  • Since many of the vehicles used by Higher Quality Tours use diesel, any upward spiral in the price of the fuel can be a threat to their operating margins.

E) Unique Strategies/Assets and Competitive Advantage

  • One of the key competitive advantages of High Quality Tours is that, unlike most of the other sightseeing operators, it allows customers to customize their tour itinerary.
  • Customers can also choose from a wide variety of vehicles such as luxurious Jet Sprinters, limousines, Sprinter vans, or mini coaches, depending on the group size. The vehicles are designed to fully maximize clients comfort and have specially added features.
  • The Company offers one of the largest and varied tour packages offerings, including a Broadway VIP experience, Brooklyn tours, Holidays Lights tours, Land and Sea NYC, NY Motion Picture sites, NYC 360 Sightseeing tours, Woodbury Commons trips, and Valentine Day Special tours.
  • Another unique strategy is the company's 'Experience Tours'. This diversified portfolio of operations allows the company to maximize its revenue opportunities.
  • Such 'Experience Tours' offered by the company include private yacht and boat charters, private cocktail receptions, helicopter tours, specialty tours and visits, museum guided tours, art classes, private Jazz performance, photography tours, golf experiences, and winery visits.
Sources
Sources