NATIONAL REPORT—Recognizing that experience is king in travel today, both TripAdvisor and Booking Holdings have made moves to acquire technology platforms in the tours and attractions space.
TripAdvisor has acquired Bokun, a leading provider of business management technology for the tours, attractions and experiences industry. With the acquisition, TripAdvisor expands its offering, now providing suppliers with technical solutions in addition to the sector’s largest distribution channel, according to the company.
“As the industry leader, our opportunity in this space is enormous. We’re committed to taking the experiences sector far beyond its current online penetration of just 20%, and Bokun will play a critical role in this mission,” said Dermot Halpin, president, TripAdvisor Experiences and Rentals. “This marks a new phase for our business: We’re expanding beyond our core offering as the industry’s largest distribution channel. This product is part of a very bright future for the industry—one that eliminates fragmentation, significantly grows and simplifies distribution for suppliers, and dramatically improves the shopping experience for travelers.”
Based in Iceland, Bokun is a business management software created specifically for tours, attractions and experiences suppliers: It acts as a booking engine, an inventory channel manager, a price management tool and more. Founded in 2012, Bokun grew quickly to help Icelandic suppliers capitalize on the country’s booming tourism industry. Bokun’s customer base is global, ranging from local suppliers to Fortune 500 companies.
Bokun will remain based in Iceland, with immediate plans to expand the team. Terms of the acquisition will not be disclosed.
For its part, Booking Holdings Inc. has entered into an agreement to acquire local activities and experiences booking software provider, FareHarbor. Founded in Hawaii in 2013 and now headquartered in Denver, FareHarbor’s technology allows tour and activity operators to connect with customers online. FareHarbor’s senior management team will report into the Booking.com leadership team.
“Today travel is fueled by technology, yet the local experiences and attractions marketplace is still largely offline,” said Gillian Tans, CEO of Booking.com. “FareHarbor’s technology allows local tours and attractions to easily bring their businesses online. We see an immense opportunity to leverage this technology to bring more local experiences online, benefitting the entire global travel ecosystem for both consumers and local businesses by allowing them to connect instantly through a seamless digital experience.”