Tours and Activities Modernization Starts With Reservation Tech

Skift Take

Standardization of outdated tours and activities systems by a non-profit group called OCTO sees a teething-problem approach to modernization. It leaves little incentive for more established operators to get involved. How long will this attempt to customize the sector take to reach an innovation tipping point?

If booking friction and connectivity have been such a burning issue for the tours and activities sector, why has standardization to break digital barriers to growth taken this long?

It’s a question many industry experts have been mulling. For years. But over the past couple of months, a few of them have banded together to form a non-profit called Open Connectivity for Tours, Activities & Attractions (OCTO).

In simple terms, it is about creating a dictionary of code to ensure stakeholders within the experiences economy are referencing the same language. Offline tours and experiences have access to the open API standards to make developing their connectivity easier and more efficient. So ultimately, they still need to invest in doing that – but with standardized specs, it could happen faster and for a lot less.

OCTO’s challenge brings to mind the universal plug tension created by Apple and Android plugs and ports.

Essentially, the cross-sector input is looking to eradicate duplicated effort, cost and overextended development resources so travel companies can avoid the need to build an adapter (for want of a better word), over and over, to fit with various reztech and distribution systems.

The non-profit said it had grown its membership base from 35 to 65 members in the last six months, and it includes a wide selection of companies at various touch points across the experiences sector, such as Arival, Amadeus, Tiqets, Magpie and the Empire State Building. See the full list here.

But is it a case of a little too late, or will this non-profit add a bridge across the digital chasm this sector needs to cross?

Several major booking platforms, including Viator, GetYourGuide, Klook, and Expedia, have not joined the initial launch phase.

Stephen Joyce, executive director of OCTO and head…