'Attractions', the word is in the name itself. So, why is it so difficult to attract the masses to attractions?
In this increasingly digitally-connected world, where a world of entertainment can be accessed through the tap of a finger on a smartphone or the click of a mouse on the computer, going digital is key in marketing the attractiveness of attractions to the growing market of digitally-savvy consumers. As the old adage goes, "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em".
Travel Weekly Asia spoke with Blanca Menchaca, BeMyGuest’s CEO on how attraction operators and travel agents can leverage digital connectivity and automation to bring the attractiveness back into attractions.
What are the challenges in selling attractions online?
Being more fragmented and diverse in product categories, it is much more difficult to standardise and automate attractions for online distribution.
The travel activities’ space still requires a lot of work in terms of the digitisation and optimisation of time-based capacity, which goes hand in hand with consolidation and the evolution of booking systems to avoid manual allotments having to be set individually across multiple sales channels.
How can travel operators better digitise attraction offerings?
BeMyGuest Content and Booking Application Programming Interface (API) supports the standard ‘booking’ features such as real-time booking and availability.
The API also supports advanced ‘content’ features, which allow operators to publish new product content through a single upload into the BeMyGuest system. Content features are rarely supported by any APIs in the Tours and Activities sector, most can only support ‘booking’ features.
Additionally, the API offers content in English and six Asian languages. To enjoy sales success in Asia, it’s imperative that content is professionally and accurately delivered to each market in their local languages.
What can traditional agents do to boost sales of attractions?
Whilst their volume is growing at a slower rate compared to online travel agents, traditional agents continue to represent a significant slice of the total travel activities’ revenue pie in APAC.
Traditional agents can benefit from online access to new destinations and products that they might not have been able to offer to their customers before, at very competitive wholesale rates and discounts.
Our self-service B2B Agents Marketplace allows traditional offline travel agencies to instantly book a range of travel activities’ products online which they can re-sell to their client base.
How can attraction operators further extend their reach?
Through our extensive distribution network of online and offline travel agents, operators win seamless exposure of their products across sales channels that they would not be able to reach on their own. Additionally, we optimise every element of the operators’ products constantly and provide localisation and pricing advice. This ensures the best sales results for both operators and distribution network partners, across multiple markets.
Beyond the distribution network, operators can digitise their business operations via our Booking System ‘Xplore’ which gives them access to several modules for the automation of ticket sales on their websites, over the counter and sales to their corporate clients.
What can attraction operators do to better sell their offerings in the post-pandemic world?
I think it is important that operators are not over-complicating their products. Too many times we see hundreds of different variants of essentially the same product. For example, operator agrees on a promo with agent A for admission plus free water, agent B for admission plus free soda water and agent C for admission plus free cookie. This is not scalable and takes up a lot of administrative resources.
Operators selling open dated tickets should also focus on defined validity periods for such tickets, rather than issuing six months (or more) validity from purchase date. In an uncertain world where markets or borders may literally be restricted overnight, it is in the operator’s benefit to retain flexibility on pricing, be it a reduction or increase, and this cannot be done efficiently if tens of thousands of open dated tickets sold at wholesale rate are at the hands of agents and wholesalers.
What are the top critical areas that travel agents and attraction operators need to look at to thrive in the future?
Innovative technology and automation, and an ability to question existing business processes to avoid any duplication is essential.
Operators must find ways to replace manual spreadsheets with scanning technology and real time reporting. Operators have also just started to explore the benefit of dynamic pricing to increase yield, which we believe will have significant potential in the years to come.
From a distribution perspective, connectivity and automation are two areas we see a lot more focus on. Agents, who are more tech savvy, are leveraging infrastructure that can provide what they need in a cost-effective way. Content, translation, real-time availability and booking are key items.