The coronavirus crisis has forced many attractions to digitize aspects of their operations, giving advisors new opportunities to book or reserve ticke
The coronavirus crisis has forced many attractions to digitize aspects of their operations, giving advisors new opportunities to book or reserve tickets at theme parks and other activities on behalf of their clients.
The switch to digital ticketing has also enabled attractions to more easily comply with capacity restrictions and to provide reassurance to visitors who are uneasy with face-to-face transactions.
And travel advisors can now include more trip components for clients — and earn a little extra commission in the process.
Douglas Quinby, CEO of Arival, which tracks the day tours and activities sector, said the changes in the attractions marketplace represent an “extraordinary digitization of the landscape.”
“Historically, the attraction side of tours and activities in the in-destination experience has really lagged in the digital arena,” Quinby said.
There are a few exceptions to that rule — notably, at Disney parks — but most attraction tickets have been sold at the gate, he said.
Quinby estimated that attractions are 10 to 15 years behind other sectors of the industry, like airlines and hotels, when it comes to online adoption rates.
But the pandemic has forced attractions to concentrate on capacity management. There has been a wave of online ticketing system adoption and upgrades, Quinby said, further bolstered by consumer interest to research and plan activities online prior to traveling.
It’s difficult to gauge how much commission opportunity is available for agents, considering the breadth and depth of attractions offered. But Quinby said he believes attraction ticketing is something advisors should consider offering to broaden their portfolio.
Alice Jong, Phocuswright director of research, agreed, saying that there are a number of activity and attraction aggregators in the marketplace today that can assist advisors in booking those products.
“One of the hardest things about the activities world is how diverse and disorganized it can be, [but] these specialists are doing a lot of work to aggregate and organize the inventory of the world,” Jong said.
One of those aggregators, Tiqets, has been working to expand its presence in the U.S. in recent years, according to Daniel Hackett, who is the Dutch company’s regional director of the Americas.
Tiqets focuses exclusively on ticketed attractions such as museums and zoos and, unlike some competitors, does not offer tours. Tiqets offers travel advisors a 50/50 margin share on tickets sold. For instance, if Tiqets gets 20% of an attraction’s ticket cost, it will keep 10% and give 10% to the advisor.
Tiqets also works directly with attractions to help them set up online ticket-booking systems.
“There’s this huge need right now for technology that did not exist three to four years ago within our space,” Hackett said.
Tiqets joins other aggregators in the marketplace that are more familiar to U.S. advisors, like Viator, GetYourGuide and Klook.
In fact, there are so many players today that it could be a hindrance for advisors, said Henry Harteveldt, an industry analyst and founder of Atmosphere Research. As it stands, advisors might have to visit a different platform or even an attraction’s website directly to book tickets. The easier it is to sell a ticket, the more likely an agent will do it, Harteveldt said.
And he believes that offering a more complete itinerary will hold value for advisors who use ticketing data to build more complete client profiles and gain deeper insights into their customers.
“A lot of attractions and entertainment options had been increasingly going digital with their ticketing, which is great for travel agents, simply because it allows them to be of better service to their clients — and, of course, it provides the opportunity to generate more revenue,” he said.
That service component is what attracted Olivia Post, an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based advisor with Conlin Travel, to sell tickets. Before the pandemic affected clients’ plans, she booked Tokyo Olympics tickets for them through Events 365.
“It adds to our services to be able to say, ‘Hey, we can book it all,'” Post said. “Yes, there will be a little bit of commission, but it’s not necessarily the driving factor. I think the more you can offer the client and not have them do the work, the better your overall sale is.”