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5 Statistics That Are Defining The Tour And Activity Industry

Back in November, Phocuswright, the travel industry’s leading research firm, conducted an in-depth survey covering key trends of the tours & activity industry. We’ve been anxiously awaiting their analysis, as Phocuswright is the global authority when it comes to travel industry research. In fact, their work has been covered in major news outlets like Forbes, CNN and The New York Times. And now, they’re giving us a comprehensive look at the industry we love the most.

As many of you donated your time to helping Phocuswright get the data right (you’re the best!), we wanted to share a few can’t-miss-highlights from the report:

  • Online tour & attraction gross bookings will more than double from 2015 to 2020, growing from 11% in 2016 to 21% in 2020.

Key takeaway: We love this! Customers are using desktops and mobile devices to research and book more than ever. So what can you do to capture these bookings? Make sure you’re prepared by adding SSL to your site, optimizing for both desktop and mobile and having a conversion-minded checkout flow.

  • Travel activities account for 9% of global travel revenue, are the third-largest travel segment and are growing faster than the total travel market.

Key takeaway: The shift from poolside margaritas to surfing, snorkeling and banana-boating your way through vacation is real. Travelers are seeking experiential travel – active adventures, educational tours and adrenaline-packed experiences are now an essential part of the getaway. Play into this by building up the full experience of your tour or activity by sharing beautiful Instagram posts, adding customer stories to your Facebook page, and interacting with customers on Twitter.

  • 57% of businesses consider traveler review websites as their most effective marketing channel.

Key takeaway: It’s hard to dispute this one. Reviews matter. In fact, 92% of consumers read online reviews. The good news is that an awesome tour and great customer service usually do the trick. If you’re looking for a little more advice, check out our interview with TripAdvisor’s 2015, #2 tour in the country, Real New York Tours. Or, if you’re with the 40% of tour operators that find SEM (search engine marketing) to be a highly effective marketing channel, take a minute to read over these essential AdWords tips.

  • In the US, an average of 40% of customers are domestic travelers, 31% are international travelers and 28% are local residents.

Key takeaway: When it comes to local travelers, US-based tour operators receive an average of about 20% more traffic than the rest of the world. Put that data to work by shifting some of your marketing focus to people looking to explore their own backyard. Register with local business directories, add neighborhood discounts to your site and target locals with digital ad spend and copy.

  • Only 13% of reservations from distribution partners are made via real-time connectivity.

Key takeaway: If you’re already partnering with FareHarbor, you should love this statistic – it means you’re ahead of the curve. With FareHarbor Connect, you’re already able to accept real-time bookings from our network of third-party distributors. Bookings from Viator and Expedia Local Expert flow directly into your Dashboard, no manual work needed. (And if you’re not already taking full advantage of our partner network, just get in touch.)


Although we’ve only covered a fraction of the data covered by the Phocuswright report, it’s clear that the future of tours & activities is bright. Of course, we’ve always believed that, but we’re excited to finally have trusted data to prove it.

Now that we have had an inside look at the industry – past, present and future – let’s put the data to work.

All data sourced from Phocuswright’s Global Travel Activities 2014-2020: Tours & Attractions Come of Age