One of the hottest segments within the travel industry before the pandemic hit the industry was the tours, activities and attractions sector. In a tete-a-tete with Travel Daily Media, Mark Rizzuto, CEO of Sydney-based technology platform Livn talks about the rapid changes taking place within this upcoming vertical and how Livn is facilitating improvement in back-end technologies.
TD: Could you tell us more about how Livn is bridging the gap between creators and sellers of tours, activities and attractions?
MR: Livn is an Open Connectivity Hub for the experiences sector. Through a single integration with the Livn API, our partners can connect to 15,000 tour operators with over 700,000 day and multi-day experiences from all over the globe. We harmonise the content and offer live pricing, availability and bookings via an emerging industry standard.
TD: What is the potential of the tours, activities and attractions industry in the current times?
MR: Today, the sector is reminiscent of the early days of airline bookings. The disparate market of independent airlines existed back then and GDS came in and started to consolidate, aggregate and distribute airlines in a really organised and structured manner. It’s now become an automated market. Now to book an airline is a no brainer. A similar scenario was witnessed in the hotels and the car rental sector in the last 25 years and then everything got automated.
The same shift that happened in flights and hotels is happening right now in the tours, activities and attractions vertical. It’s a fragmented market right now. The players in this vertical are progressively moving towards adopting technology and online booking and hence, there is immense potential in the vertical.
TD: How has technology boosted this vertical in the recent times?
MR: As we slowly approach the post-COVID period, automation in the sector is bound to continue rising. COVID has only accelerated the attempt towards smarter automation. It has become an indispensable part of business in support of growth. If companies are going to survive, they have to be clever about their cost base and about the automation and customer engagements, going forward.
TD: How’s business been for your company? And what’s your USP?
MR: We have moved into a new office space recently. We’re a young company with a young agenda. Our company was initiated eight years ago but we only started commercial operations about three and a half years ago. Although we started in Australia, our business has increasingly become more global and our customers now come from all over the world.
Having global customers requires us to have a global footprint of traveller desired experiences. It’s my belief that the vast majority of people go to a destination not to simply fly an airline or to stay in a hotel. They go there for the actual experience of the destination itself. If someone’s coming to Sydney, they will almost certainly want to go to the Opera House. So why not sell that opportunity if you’ve got the chance. These experiences have always been there. However, lack of integrated technology never really supported the dream. A few of our technical competitors enable the sale of experiences, however much of their inventory disappears from sale in the last three days before potential consumer consumption.
With Livn, if it’s available in an hour, you can book it through our tech. We only show what is truly available for sale, so there is never any customer disappointment or disconnect from the truth. And that’s our promise.
TD: So, when you say there is 100% live inventory, how exactly is it achieved?
MR: It’s 100% live inventory. And that inventory is accessed via our advanced API reaching out to multiple tour reservation systems (SAS-based systems). Today there are hundreds of tour reservation systems servicing different types of tour operators including activity suppliers, attraction operators, etc. And in any given one of those systems, they have hundreds, in some cases, thousands of individual tour operators, using that system as their core operating system, as part of the services they supply such as website technologies, reservation and inventory management technologies, reporting tools, etc.
That’s their business model. By Livn, electronically linking into each one of these systems, we gain access to any tour operator who use that system. So, each time we do a connection through to one of those reservation platforms, or SAS system providers, we gain access to all the tour operators who are using that system. Livn is already connected to 25 reservation systems and we’re investing further in our model.
TD: You’ve tied up with Flight Centre recently. Could you tell us more about the deal.
MR: Our vision is to move all bookings for tours, activities & attractions into a fully automated environment. In Flight Centre, we found a like-minded partner set on replacing inefficient practices with technology that does not fail and delivers multiple layers of value at all of its touchpoints. Previously, FCTG travel agents made bookings via website portals, phone and email, all of which were not integrated with their invoicing or reporting systems. With this new deal, Livn’s solution will enable these operations to be automated with real-time transactions and a fully integrated itinerary and booking management system, without interfering in any of their existing commercial agreements with these product suppliers.
Tour operators gain significantly greater operational and cost efficiencies, while Flight Centre has the opportunity to confidently and easily sell more given full integration into supporting systems that enable consumer engagement in both their bricks and mortar, as well as online models.