The way travellers book tourism experiences has changed. Historically, travellers have booked most tours and activities either at the destination or closer to departure, after organizing their transportation and accommodation. But there have been a lot of changes to the tour and activity booking window, especially during the pandemic.

Arival, who is a Strategic Partner of TIS – Tourism Innovation Summit, has analysed what has changed in the last few years and why travellers book some activities last minute and other activities in advance. Douglas Quinby, CEO and co-founder of Arival, presented at TIS2022 the conclusions of a study carried out on 10,000 travellers from all over the world that analyses trends in experiences: trips, activities, and attractions.

Quinby highlighted how tourists have changed their way of travelling: the large groups that years ago contracted all-inclusive trips are becoming increasingly distant and today it is the small groups that are looking for personalised experiences. Continuing with the changes, the same is happening with managing bookings, with a very significant increase in bookings made via mobile phones and at the last minute.

What decides when to book a tour or tourism activity?

The activity importance

According to Arival’s survey, travellers that place a higher priority on a specific experience are more likely to book it further in advance. For instance, this happens in performing arts and sporting events, which tend to be booked furthest in advance. However, tours and museum tickets are more likely to be booked much closer to the day of the experience.

The new generation of travellers: millennials and gen-Z

The age of travellers also decides when to book a travel experience. While people 55 years old and older book experiences either at the destination or before departure, younger people mostly book their tours and activities at the same time they book transportation and accommodation. Quinby highlighted that “58% of Generation Z travellers and millennials place much more importance on experiences than on things. In addition, social networks such as TikTok and Instagram are their tools for discovering places and deciding on one place or another”.