The head of Arival, the global research authority of the tour, activity and attraction sector, has called on Google and Facebook to take the long view and help their tourism advertisers who are trying to survive the business fallout of the pandemic.
Douglas Quinby said Facebook’s March 17 announcement of a US$100 million initiative to help small businesses was “a welcome but small first step on a long journey”.
“Google and Facebook have become incredibly important partners to the travel industry worldwide. They have profited handsomely from the risk-taking of these enterprises over the past decade,” he said.
“Now it’s time for them to step up and pay it forward by crediting the accounts of these at-risk advertisers (for future advertising).”
Arival said the sector, valued at US$254 billion in 2019 and with one million tour, activity and attraction operators worldwide, is now in deep crisis.
According to an Arival study of nearly 600 tour, activity and attraction operators worldwide, conducted between March 9 and 13, 2020, 28 per cent of operators surveyed are at risk of business failure within three months; 46 per cent are at risk of failure if travel does not begin to recover within six months; 37 per cent of total 2020 bookings have been cancelled; 73 per cent of operators report a decline in 2020 bookings vs 2019; and the average decline is 52 per cent.
The sector is comprised mostly of small businesses, micro-entrepreneurs and part-time operators. Most have started within the past five years. Arival’s research shows that 86 per cent of operators generated less than US$250,000 in gross sales in 2019.
By comparison, Google and Facebook are two of the largest companies in the world, generating combined advertising revenues of US$204 billion in 2019.
Crediting the accounts of all tour and activity operators, attractions, experience hosts, ground transfer providers, and third-party resellers for advertising spend on their platforms for the period of January 15 to March 15, 2020 “would be a much needed step to help many small operators get back on their feet when travel demand begins to return”, urged Quinby.
Arival has launched a petition to make the point, calling on operators, distributors, technology companies and all individuals working in tours, activities, attractions and experiences to sign their name. Arival will present the petition to representatives of Google and Facebook.
Meanwhile, Quinby will present findings from Arival’s study as well as the impact of coronavirus on tours, attractions and activities in a live online event on March 31.
The company has also launched Arival Online, a series of live online events through April to help tour, activity and attraction operators weather the unprecedented times and prepare their business for the future.