Welcome to the Magpie Newsletter.

The goal here is to provide a resource for anybody in the ‘Experiences’ sector of the Travel Industry; Tours, Activities, Attractions, Events etc. The theme will be technology and distribution. If you have anything that you think we should share, please do not hesitate to send it over.

1. Airbnb’s Brian Chesky and The Travel Revolution

Interview from the Skift Global forum in New York

“Travel as we know it, is never coming back, and there’s a whole new game. 1/5 of our business, by room-nights is 30 days or longer”. He’s confused by the data. You can’t take the the last 18 months of data and extrapolate it. You have to pretty much delete it. The new blurring of life, business and travel is fascinating though, and potentially very very lucrative for Airbnb.

“It’s helpful that our brand is a noun and a verb”. Not true (Its a noun, not a verb. Only Uber is both). But what is true is that they slashed performance marketing (Google) budget and retained most of their traffic. That’s the value of a brand like Airbnb.

There is a more detailed write-up here on LinkedIn (if you want more objections to many of his comments) or you can watch the full video on Skift.

2. Google Officially Launches TTD

For those not keeping up, ‘Reserve with Google’ is gone, and has been replaced by the far more scalable ‘Google things-to-do’.
Links for attractions and some tours are live on GMB (Google My Business) place-cards and also on Google maps for both mobile and desktop.
Next is the expansion  of tours and activities, potentially opening up a whole array of display opportunities.
Google Travel has been very successful in flights and hotels, and this program offers new, and potentially significant opportunities for ‘Experience’ operators to get free and direct traffic from Google.

  • Read this¬†summary¬†by Douglas Quinby of Arival, including a list of connected partners.

3. Klook Interview

Mooncakes, specialty drink sales & virtual tours. These are just some of the experiments Klook have been toying with in the last 18 months. Out of all of the OTAs, they have probably been the most creative (which is a good thing with the state of the travel industry in Asia)

  • They are also becoming a full-service OTA, offering hotels, car rentals, transport, dining and more.
  • Close to a full dismissal of the value of setting up an ‘Originals’ type of service.¬†“I don’t think it really makes a difference. Also it’s not great for the operator… and for the consumer, you are restricting choices as a platform”
  • Very open to deals like Expedia with Viator & GYG (why wouldn’t they be?)
  • Focus on increasing frequency of app / website visits – as they move towards becoming something closer to a Super-App.

Read the interview on Phocuswire

4. Expedia Product Sourcing

Expedia is now sourcing products from GetYourGuide. There was some confusion around the messaging on this. They are adding GetYourGuide, to the mix, so it is not exclusive. In addition, Expedia sources directly with Operators, as well as through Viator.
This was not a ‘covid’ decision. The Viator contract started pre-covid. The goal was to ‘outsource’ the long-tail of supply to 3rd parties (Viator and GetyourGuide) to reduce costs. This kind of arrangement is common, but most people thought that Expedia was big enough to manage most of their supply directly. Same story for Booking.com.

With all the pre-covid talk from Expedia and Booking.com (CEOs) of ‘The connected trip’, these moves don’t fit. Experiences are a key part of delivering this ‘connected trip’ stuff. Without direct supply, it seems unlikely that they will get there. Without it, it remains to be seen how they will defend themselves from Google.

5. Fundraising

Headout raises $12m – more commentary to follow.
Tickitto $4.5m raise. Sigle API for events. Read this great analysis from an investor.
Beyonk, the Experiences booking platform (London) raises $2.7m.

6. Tripadvisor + (subscriptions)

Has it all ended almost as soon as it began? The new changes are significant, and suggest that the initial plan wasn’t working. (Offering close to Net rates to consumers who pay an annual fee). The new plan appears to charge full price, but offer a rebate after check-in. I’m not sure why that’s better or more attractive to the guest. More to come on this I’m sure. Phocuswire article here.

7. How travelers choose tours

In Arival’s recent study of 1,000 U.S. travelers in association with Go City, Today’s Tour Taker, travelers are taking longer trips, they are spending more, and they are taking more tours.

Read the article here and download the full report.

8. Crypto and NFTs

(OPINION) Today marks day 2056 of Cryptocurrency and NFTs adding no value whatsoever to the travel industry or its recovery. I remain (marginally) open minded about future development in this area.


WTM – London
November 1 – 3, 2021

Going ahead largely as normal (with reduced attendance expected) Registration

Tourism Innovation Summit (TIS) – Seville
November 11 – 13, 2021

Use code 3D63J to save 50% discount on Silver and Gold Passes Registration

Arival – San Diego
February 1 – 4, 2022

Early Bird Pricing ends on October 15th. Registration

Please email us with feedback, suggestions, ideas, or anything else. We’d love to hear from you.