Mark Rizzuto, the CEO of Livn sat down with Ausbiz, Australia’s leading provider of live and on-demand business news to discuss with editor Simon Thomsen, and journalist Eliot Hastie the latest developments in the Tours & Activities space. During the segment they covered not only the fast-tracking of the digital era but increased connectivity as a result and what this means for both operator and consumer. Below we cover off some of the key highlights and Mark’s view of the current state of the industry.
Live inventory capabilities are long overdue
The Tours & Activities (T&A) sector is a crucial part of the travel industry, yet, it’s often forgotten, as most technological advancements seem to arrive late or not at all.
Where resellers have been able to easily access and transact the inventory of airlines or hotels for years, they still face challenges to distribute T&A products in real-time. And yet, people do not travel for the sake of travelling, they primarily travel to experience their chosen destination.
“When someone travels to Sydney, they probably want to cuddle a koala, climb the Harbour Bridge or go to the Sydney Opera House,”
explained Mark in the interview, and added that many who travel are “driven by experiences.” Resellers have struggled for years to access tour operators’ services and products – the experiences – the same way as the rest of the industry due to the lack of connectivity between systems not supporting automated bookings. This is where Livn saw a gap in the market and created a product to join the dots.
The Livn Open Connectivity Hub, explained Mark, enables this “live handshake” between small, mid and large tour operators with resellers and distributors of their products. Using an analogy to telco providers, Mark explained that Livn has laid the wires globally, enabling any party – tour operators, distributors, travellers – to talk to any party in real-time.
The Deal with Flight Centre is a Game-Changer
Livn has recently signed a deal with the travel giant Flight Centre Travel Group which is due to disrupt the Tours & Activities sector and open up increased scale and opportunity.
Having been in the works for over two years, it was one of the most important moments for Livn, but a rather big deal for Flight Centre as well.
Before partnering up with Livn, Flight Centre’s business model would rely on their travel agents doing everything manually - from logging onto different websites, to engaging in phone calls and email correspondence to finalise a booking confirmation.
Livn technology will enable and manage the B2B connectivity using its secure API-based technology as a direct communications channel to Flight Centre’s nominated tour operator partners, with no interference in their existing commercial agreements. Livn is purely acting as a technology facilitator between the parties.
The solution will be available across Flight Centre’s stable of leisure and wholesale brands, which includes Flight Centre, Liberty Travel, Infinity and Travel Associates.
Livn technical infrastructure paired with Flight Centre sales platforms will empower travel agents and customers with an automated system that’s more precise and saves them time, eliminates human error and gives them access to real-time availability. For Livn, whilst they were already working with large offshore clients, this was a major breakthrough to the global market.
But how does this global partnership benefit the customer?
Phocuswright Research shows that the last 72 hours before consumption represents over 50% of all T&A bookings. These “in the moment purchases” is a known trend in how people usually book tours. The partnership will support increased bookings to local experience providers whilst giving consumers exactly what they want with more flexibility on when and how to book them.
Flight Centre’s clients can now book not only pre-flight, but during flight and after reaching their destination. Whenever they feel like tapping into a new experience, Flight Centre will be able to cater to the traveller's needs faster and with more accuracy.
Covid-19 and the Hyperlocal travel trend
With conversation steering towards the current state of the travel industry, the topic of the global pandemic naturally took centre stage.
The latest travel consumer trends point towards local and hyperlocal personalised offers. In a time where international, and in some cases domestic travel corridors are uncertain as a result of the Covid pandemic, offering unique experiences closer to home is ranking high in search popularity.
For consumers, this offers a way to satisfy their wanderlust whilst broader restrictions are in place, and help keep local tour operators to remain viable and relevant. There has never been a greater need for live availability, instant travel options, and quick sales to keep up with these changing times.
Through the Livn’s technology tour operators can maximise last-minute opportunities, and the sector can satisfy customer demand for travel at such speed and accuracy that wasn’t previously a possibility.
Whilst “The world is your oyster” may not ring as true as before, the world of tours & activities has certainly seen a revamp thanks to technological innovation, and one that will significantly benefit the industry and all travel consumers.