Digitization of the tourism offer, a business that is highly sought after by Gafa

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If, on the other hand, it has become common to book plane tickets, hotel rooms or entrance tickets to the Louvre on the Internet, on the other hand, it is very common to book leisure activities, cycling, kayaking, excursions … for your vacation is very common minus: that digitizing this fragmented offer poses a challenge to the tourism sector and arouses envy.

To compensate for this lack, the Alentour platform, created a year ago at the behest of the government, offers travelers activities close to their accommodation that can be booked on smartphone upon arrival and “allows service providers to be booked online”, explains Timothée to AFP de Roux, its president.

Its offering has been expanded thanks to the acquisition in May of online outdoor activity booking site Manawa.com and the partnership struck with e-commerce site Veepee, Mr. de Roux, former general manager. from Abritel HomeAway (Expedia Group) ).

The platform has also developed partnerships with holiday clubs Belambra and Pierre et Vacances in particular.

Around today, 10,000 linked activities show – in a potential market of 150,000 leisure activities – and have 2,400 distribution points in France (hotels, tourist offices, etc.), but mainly in Savoie, Haute-Savoie and Côte d’Azur, where she started.

For as much “buying tickets to the Eiffel Tower online is easy, as much if you want to take a surfing lesson in Biarritz, it’s complicated”, small kayak rental companies, paragliders, etc. is not easily accessible on the Internet, emphasizes Mr. de Roux.

Gathering this myriad of offers is painstaking work, which is why the major international platforms such as Booking or Expedia currently concentrate on “selling ultra-tourist, iconic activities” – visits to the Palace of Versailles, the Musée d’Orsay… – and Around, which also offers them, wants to “make a difference to small activity providers”, says Mr de Roux, aiming for “30,000 referred activities in five years”.

– “Strategic axis” for booking –

In La Rochelle, Marie Nevers, manager of Air Water Loisir’s rental base, is delighted with “the visibility that Manawa.com and two other platforms have given over the last four years, sport-découverte.com and adrenactive.com, which refer to” its nautical activities (jet ski, boat, paddle…).

“We are seen a little more, we have a good reference,” she told AFP. “The new generations often pre-book their activities before they arrive,” and “we still have more people live,” she notes.

Majority-owned by Banque des Territoires, Surroundings also aims to prevent the last segment of the tourism sector not to be digitized from being “totally dependent on the big American platforms”, which capture “80% of hotel bookings” today, says M . de Roux and who are very interested in this niche.

Present in 154,000 destinations and 226 countries with 29 million referenced accommodations, the giant Booking.com began offering bookable activities on its platform in 2016: still limited, its offer today includes 40,000 “attractions” – visits, sports, cultural activities …

Its ambition is to offer within a few months “activities in 2,000 destinations” around the world, that is, almost double the current offer: “We are very focused on this strategic axis, we want to do it as soon as possible “, Malena told AFP. Gufflet, its director general in France.

Partnerships with Musement, the subsidiary of TUI in 2020, and Viator, Tripadvisor’s last year, have allowed Booking to expand its offer; the site wants to establish “other partnerships with large specialized groups”, but also to refer to attractions in independent structures.

“Travellers are really looking for a diverse, complete offer, with flight, transport, attraction … and everything is linked to a payment network: that’s what we offer,” says Ms Gufflet.

Asked by AFP, competitor Expedia said it would not communicate on the subject.

For their part, the regions are innovating with the support of the Regional Tourism Committees (CRT) to improve their tourist offer. Ile-de-France has launched three applications: the “Paris Région Aventure” treasure hunt for children, the “Bougeott” nature trail and a personal travel diary.

“When you arrive at the tourist information points at airports, Versailles or Disneyland run by CRT, you say you love sports, the Middle Ages or the Impressionists and they make you a digital travel diary corresponding to your wishes”, you explained. Valérie Pécresse, the president of the Ile-de-France region, during a recent tourism report.

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