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Last-minute booking trends & best practice for tours and activities in 2018

Last-minute booking trends & best practice for tours and activities in 2018

How many days in advance are tour and activity bookings happening? How does this vary by channel? 

According Tours & Activities Come of Age: The Global Travel Activities Marketplace 2014­-2020, an exclusive report by Phocuswright, two in five bookings happen within two days of a trip.

Phocuswright put the low number of last-minute bookings down to a few factors, including:

  • Many suppliers require cut-off times of at least one day in advance to serve their guests due to the "nature of the activity".

  • Only 45% of tour & activity suppliers are using a reservation system like TrekkSoft, although this is up from just 14% in 2011. Many suppliers still check bookings manually and don't have live inventory, making the coordination of last-minute bookings problematic.

What are we seeing at TrekkSoft?

Looking at TrekkSoft's booking data from 2017, we've seen that tours and activities are still far from last-minute – even for those using a booking system like ours

Here are the numbers:

13 days before a trip is the average time that bookings are made for TrekkSoft's users. This decreases to 5 days for bookings made on mobile, and increases to 24 for direct bookings on a supplier website.


Last-minute bookings for tours and activities

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Why are tour & activity suppliers not getting more last-minute bookings?

Mobile bookings are more last-minute... but mobile isn't the default booking channel (yet!)

Bookings on mobile are made 5 days before a trip, making it the most last-minute channel according to our data. Currently, 46% of bookings are made on mobile devices, but this is growing fast – and up from just 31% of bookings in 2016.

The thing is: traveller want to book on mobile devicesMany people don't pack their laptops when travelling and do their browsing in-destination on their phone. So, tour and activity websites need to be mobile-optimised to provide consumers with what they're looking for (and increasingly, expect) when they travel.

If you think your website has areas for improvement on mobile devices, speak to your booking software Account Manager about how they can help you out.

Read: 9 ways mobile has changed travel (and what tour and activity operators can do about it)

Higher basket values equal more advance planning

$81 is the average basket value of tour and activity bookings made via TrekkSoft in mid January to February 2018.

Broken down, this was $236 for bookings via our POS Desk, $149 for marketplace bookings, and $84 for bookings on supplier websites. For many consumers, they're amounts to consider and plan in advance – rather than booking shortly before the activity if the mood strikes.

On the other hand, the average basket value for bookings on mobile devices is $29. That's a much more appealing amount to book closer to departure!

Higher-priced trips are more likely to be booked further in advance – and consumers are less likely to pick up their smartphone to book them.

How can you be ready for last-minute bookings as a tour & activity supplier?

Firstly consider your basket value. If your average trips are several hundred dollars, it's unlikely that your customers will want to book spontaneously within two days of departure.

However, if you have cheaper walking tours or an afternoon cooking class that people can quickly book if there's a change of weather, you want to be attracting last-minute bookings.

  1. Your most important first step is to use an online booking system like TrekkSoft. Then your availability is always up-to-date on all sales channels and your potential customers know how many spaces you have left.

  2. Make sure your website is mobile-optimised! It needs to be easy for customers to book your tours on a mobile device.

  3. Connect your inventory to marketplaces like TripAdvisor Experiences, GetYourGuide, and Expedia so you can reach more people looking for things to do in your area.

  4. Consider reducing your cut-off time. If it's due admin, can you streamline processes with technology? Is it worth hiring seasonal staff to cover last-minute bookings?

In our Travel Trends Report 2018, we shared our most comprehensive range of data from the TrekkSoft booking system yet. This covered where bookings are made, the proportion of bookings on mobile, and the age and gender split for bookings made via TrekkSoft.


Get you copy of the Travel Trend Report for the latest booking data to know:

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Lucy Fuggle
Posted by Lucy Fuggle
Lucy spent three years building TrekkSoft’s content strategy and inbound marketing approach. She now helps companies to find their voice, kick-start projects, and bring in processes that actually work for them. Lucy writes and shares her solo adventures on lucyfuggle.com.
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