My Tours & Attractions Industry Key Take-Aways from Arival Bangkok

Last week, members of the Redeam Team, myself included, traveled to Bangkok in Thailand to attend the first Far East version of the Arival conference . We arrived at the venue, the Avani Hotel and Conference Centre, to find a gleaming modern tower on the riverside of the Chao Phraya River which winds through Bangkok. The event was taking place in the 10th and 11th floors in the spacious, modern, and well-laid-out Conference Centre. The position of the hotel provided a dramatic backdrop for the coming events and meetings.  

This was my first attendance at Arival, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the entire industry wants to be educated about and is seeking dedicated solutions for smart connectivity. They’re interested in clarity between what it means to be an inventory management and reservation system versus what it means to provide channel management. Mostly I found confusion, misconceptions, and misinformation because of the need for this kind of additional market education. There was some degree of awareness of and demand for API connectivity, but what that even means, what the potential of this kind of connectivity could bear, and how difficult it is for this kind of connectivity to be maintained is so far rarely understood. I can see I’m going to be equal parts educator, consultant, and business developer in the quest to bring our industry up to 21st century standards.

Speaking of standards, another topic that came up a lot was the need to create some standards in this space of tours and attractions technologies: What is the Standard? Who should maintain and develop the Standard? How do we consolidate and standardize transactions? Whose transactions should we consider? What language should we use? Who will create the documentation? As an industry, we still have a lot of work yet to do. Our CEO, Melanie Meador, chairs the Connectivity Standardisation Working Group in conjunction with Arival, but it was clear in the session dedicated to this topic that the Reseller segment of the industry also needs to come to the table and cooperate in order to begin the hard work of agreeing to the basic requirements of this standard. Our industry can learn so much from the mistakes of past industries whose failures to cooperate delayed the entire progress of that industry. When we do finally come together, we can leapfrog ahead because we have models of past successes to create what it is we all need.

And as conferences are a fantastic way to connect with friends old and new, I would like to share a few special shout-outs. First to new connection Paul Stobbs, CEO of AttractionWorld . I also got to re-connect with Mark Holder from Checkfront , a company I have worked with in the past. And finally, my friends from China’s Ctrip . I have had a long and glittering relationship with Ctrip during my career, and they’ve always been great partners with a very collaborative and problem-solving approach to projects. We also had a group meeting with GlobalTix , who graciously posed for this fun shot with us:

And what would traveling to attend a conference about tours, activities and attractions be without participating in some of them, so here are some fun pix of the adventures we had before and after our conference began:

Arival offered me superb formal and informal networking opportunities, social events, and plenty of useful discussions. I wish I had maybe one more day because there were more partners I wasn’t able to meet yet. I cannot wait for Arival Orlando where I can make those missing connections that I’m certain will lead to more business partnerships for Redeam. 

Martin Harlow is Redeam’s Global Director of Partnerships. He is a 20-year industry veteran and recognized expert on connectivity who was at the forefront of the hotel industry’s digital transformation as they began accepting online bookings and electronically automating the management of multiple reselling partners. Connect with Martin on LinkedIn or contact him by email (martin.harlow@redeam.com).

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