Last year, just before the pandemic hit full steam, TripAdmit was launched as a new solution to allow hoteliers to provide their guests with the ability to easily book activities for their trips even before they arrive.
While the pandemic slowed down the initial launch, as travel begins its rebound, the product will help hotels gain ancillary revenue as guests look to explore locations once again.
John Maguire, who cofounded the Ireland-based company with Andy Kelly, came up with the idea for TripAdmit after working in the digital marketing and tourism industries. He began his career at Ticketmaster Ireland, and worked in hospitality in the U.S. during his summers while still in school. “I was brought in as sales and marketing manager for Ticketmaster Ireland to look after their website and online sales,” he said. “It was 20 years ago and there were days when we sold nothing online. It built up as we went.”
From there, he worked in digital marking for AerLingus, which he says gave him the taste for travel. He later worked for City Wonders, one of the largest tour operators in Europe.
In his work, he noticed that most of the activities that travelers participated in were purchased offline. “That is where I had my ‘eureka’ moment,” he said. “When I was at AerLingus, I looked at how they plugged in their hotel, car and insurance partners. I am looking around and these industries had digitized 20 years previously. The tourism activities sector was only just beginning to now digitize. The component pieces that need to be in place to digitize the sector were just coming into play, such as the API activity and the reservations systems, etc.”
That is where TripAdmit came about. “It was taking the experience I had gained over the years, whether it was Ticketmaster or AerLingus, and applying that to an industry that was only in its infancy in regard to its digitization,” he said. “Yet the tourism and activities sector is worth $180 billion a year. It is the third largest sector in the travel industry. Even the B&Bs are digitized at this stage.”
The company’s first product was on the ancillary revenue side, to enable distribution partners such as hotels and airlines to sell tours and activities digitally to their customer bases and to earn ancillary revenue from it. “Our most recent product, to put an end-to-product in place, is that we have also built a fully functioning reservation system dedicated to the tours and activities sector so that the tours and activities providers can sell through their own websites, but they can also distribute products through our distribution network out to hotels, airlines, etc.,” said Maguire. “We are enabling our clients to digitize the sales of tours and activities to their client or customer base. We already knew that the majority of the industry was either purchased offline or the majority of the tours and activities providers didn’t actually have a reservation system to sell or connect online.”
Each hotel partner can decide how much it wants to use the system. “It comes down to each hotel’s preference,” he said. “As a very base level, there is a branded white-label website. They can put a link on their website and say ‘book activities,’ and do it that way. They can also integrate it into their app. They can have a sub-service kiosk. You can also integrate into the front desk as well. It is up to the hotel.“
Hotels can also integrate it into any of the in-room systems that they have as well, because it is a digital solution. “It can be molded accordingly as we say,” he said.
Maguire said that the company has already connected to more than 50,000 tour and activity providers globally that its distribution partners can book with through its white-label solution. Hotels can also add partners they already have had relationships when they add TripAdmit. “A new hotel client can use all of our providers, but we also offer them the opportunity to customize it so they can narrow down the lift, but the crucial part of it is that if the hotel already has relationships in place, they can merge the two lists,” he said. “They can utilize our reservation system to onboard those clients into our product listings of products and services that we bring to the table as well.”
The system is built on a revenue share model. “Essentially there is not set up fee, no start-up costs or anything like that for the hotel,” he said. “For every activity or tour that is sold, we do a revenue share with that hotel. The success of the solution comes down to the marketing and communication that the hotel will put in place. If they just put it up on their website and say nothing about it and hope that people are just going to just stumble across it, it most certainly will fail because booking your hotel comes at a completely different time than booking your activities. Most people wait until they are actually in destination to plan what they are going to do.”