Tours/Activities with Instant Booking
An estimated 10.28% of tours and activities offered worldwide are able to be instantly booked by customers. Below you will find a deep dive of our methodology and how we came to this conclusion.
RESEARCH STRATEGY AND FINDINGS
Our first strategy was to locate what percent of tours, activities and excursions can be reserved instantly online. We found an article from major reservation software TrekkSoft that stated only 45% of tour and activity (T&A) suppliers worldwide are using a digital reservation system, which allows for instant booking. Many are still relying on checking their bookings manually without a live inventory. This article also gave us useful phrases for our search like "live inventory" and "reservation system". However, that 45% does not tell us what percent of actual bookings are actually able to be confirmed instantly. The TrekkSoft article references a more in-depth primary study by Phocuswright, where we also checked for other data. However, this original report is behind a paywall, so we only have the insufficient data reported by TrekkSoft.
We did find two other reports by Phocuswright that were freely-accessible, though neither one gave direct information on what percentage of all T&As are instantly bookable worldwide. One of those reports showed that tour operators are slowly moving to online marketplaces for selling their tickets, as the portion of total T&A bookings from online travel agent marketplaces grew from 3.2% to 9.1% in 2018.
Skift, a global travel market research firm, claims that only 20% of worldwide tours and activities are sold online, compared to the overall travel industry average of 44%. The industry is also worth around $135 billion worldwide.
TrekkSoft's Travel Trends 2019 report states that 66.7% of T&A reservations are made directly on provider's websites, and we already know that 9.1% come via online marketplaces. This totals to 75.8% (66.7% + 9.1%) of online T&A bookings come directly from the customer, rather than through an agent or other affiliate. This means that 15.16% (20% x 75.8%) of all tour and activities bookings come directly from the customer online. The next piece of the puzzle, therefore, is to determine what percentage of that 15.16% of direct, online bookings are instant bookings.
Given that this information was found not to be pre-compiled, we then turned to look for major T&A booking software providers, hoping to find market shares and which ones offer automated inventory management or instant booking capabilities. With this data, we could possibly calculate what percent of all tours sold online can be booked instantly. However, despite finding several articles that discuss these software companies, we were unable to find any market share data for any providers. We used these articles to gather the names of major software providers like TrekkSoft, Rezdy and FareHarbor, then examined those companies' websites for any blogs or market data that might say what percentage of their customer's T&A offerings are instantly reservable. While an insightful survey report from Rezdy shows how T&A operators tend to take their bookings, it does not give conclusive data on what percentage of total reservations are taken via each channel (online, phone, email, etc).
As a final attempt to try to triangulate what percentage of all T&A bookings are instant, we then turned to five major online marketplaces to see what ratio of current T&A listings were instant or not. We chose Viator, Expedia, GetYourGuide, Klook and Peek, as they were listed as the top providers by Skift, in addition to Airbnb. To control the results, we chose one major tourist destination (Paris) for the same rough date range in June.
Unfortunately, neither Expedia nor Viator definitively communicate either via the search screen nor on individual listings' pages whether the reservation is instant or not. It seems that a customer would only find this out once they actually purchase the item. GetYourGuide also does not offer the ability to filter search results by instant confirmation or not. We selected 20 activities and tours from the search results on GetYourGuide and individually checked whether they were instantly bookable or not. All 20 (100%) were instantly bookable on GetYourGuide. Klook was the only system that allowed us to filter search results via instant confirmation. Of the 120 total activities listed for our chosen destination (Paris), 46 were instantly confirmed. This translates to 38.33%. On Peek, we again manually checked 20 activities and tours to find that 65% of them were instantly confirmed. This method of triangulation is rough, as some parts of the world may be far more likely to offer instant booking for T&As than others. Also, with such a small sample size (3 websites), our data is only a very rough approximation. It is possible that an additional Wonder request expressly for checking several different global destinations may yield additional, more robust results. However, given the limitations of scope for this request, we averaged the three available findings (100%, 38.33% and 65%), for a mean of 67.78% of tours and activities offered online were able to be instantly booked.
Therefore, since we know that 15.16% of tour and activity reservations are done directly by the customer online, and roughly 67.78% of these are instantly bookable, this means 10.28% of all tours and activities worldwide are able to be instantly booked by customers.