Arival:

The event for tours, activities, and attractions.

TOMIS traveled down to Las Vegas in October to attend the Arival Event. Over 600 tourism professionals, business owners, online travel agencies and booking companies from all over the globe attended.  Even Google was there.

It was a great experience to meet and interact with everyone and hear their stories. The team at Arival did an incredible job setting it all up and providing great opportunities for networking. Here are my top three takeaways from our visit to the Arival Event:

 

The Story of Your Experience

When talking about your company, tell a story. Don’t give a pitch.

Did you know more people are killed every year by selfies than by sharks?

On stage before us Ocean Ramsey, a marine biologist, tells a captivated audience about her transformative experience swimming with sharks. She was sharing the WHY. Why her experience swimming with sharks made her who she is today. She compels the listener to believe that if they go swim with sharks they’ll transform too.

This wasn’t about her business. She wasn’t here to tell us about some trip was she promoting. She was there to tell us how swimming with sharks changed her life. 

Ocean Ramsey does lead scuba adventures with sharks. This fact dawns on you through her talk, but it only made up maybe 2% of her story. By sharing her story she inspires us, she captures our imagination, and instills a desire to know more.

While your brand is important, people ultimately buy experiences. Whether they are transformative, educational, or adventurous… travelers want to understand the why, not just the what.

 

The Google Trips App is Growing

The App that does activity suggestions based on what’s nearby. 

Google was at Arival too! Rob Tores, Managing Director of Travel, told us about the Google Trips app. Go get your smartphone. If you don’t have one go buy one, it’s 2017. Time to catch up. Now load up the Google Play store if you are on Android or iTunes if you are one iOS. Look for the “Google Trips – Travel Planner” app and download it for a test drive.

Like other Google products it’s smart. For example, it reads your email to discern what your future is. If it detects that you purchased a flight to Las Vegas it will appear here (because you have a receipt from a hotel or airline). Now click on that trip and you’ll see “things to do”.

Want to be listed here? This new product from Google represents an opportunity all of us. We will be optimizing and preparing for it in the coming year.

 

Machine Learning and Data Science in Tourism

This is your next big thing.

A gentleman who leads Food Tours in San Francisco told me he wants to be out there on his tours. He trusts his SEO to make him number one on Google. A lady from New York shared an insane story about chasing tornadoes as part of her trips, and she loved it! She did not want to be trapped in an office running Facebook ads. A group from Vancouver connected people to photographers for a variety of different global trips.

We all have a passion for what we do in this field. You would probably rather be out there on a perfect day leading a perfect experience with the perfect group of visitors, rather than locked away in an office planning a keyword strategy to rank number one on Google.

We were not just at the Arival conference to learn from the speakers and demos. We’re also there to make connections and better understand you. To understand that path to perfect days and perfection so that we can better aid our awesome clients.

The team at Arival did a fantastic job setting up networking opportunities. We all wore our name in big letters around our neck and they bussed us to Vegas hot spots to mingle. So by night while the rest of Vegas went to party, we talked to our fellow attendees to hear their story and understand their marketing techniques.

Not a lot of the folks we talked too have the money to throw away on Google AdWords experiments or inefficient Facebook Audiences. These business owners understand that digital marketing is incredibly important, but how to PROVE its’ efficacy or show a return on investment for their digital efforts is… hard.

data science between google and facebook

Evan Tipton, our CEO, likes to call the marketing landscape between Facebook and Google a “walled data garden”. Each have their own confusing and sometimes misleading default attribution models, and complexities behind effective conversion tracking. What’s sometimes worse is the massive divide between these two digital behemoths, and there’s more like them everyday. Knowing the answers behind digital marketing questions like where, when, who and how much is not a simple proposition.

Understanding your marketing data from all the various sources may be more difficult than ever before. We look forward to spending the next year helping tour operators understand their aggregate marketing and sales data to ensure we are actually doing more of what is working, less of what is not, and driving direct bookings at a time when everyone wants to resell your trips (usually at a hefty commission).

 

We’ll see you there Next Year!

2018 will be even more exciting!

We would like to thank Douglas, Bruce, and Alex, as well as everyone else at Arival who made the event possible. It was an incredible experience to see many of us that share the same passion for experiences and activities together. Next year we might just be on stage too!