Finland-based Toristy is a hybrid res-tech/reseller platform in the Experiences sector. The company describes its mission as, “Making travel industry tour, activity and experience operators famous.” To achieve this mission, Toristy develops new curated marketplaces in domestic markets by distributing experience products and services through localized marketplaces created for entities such as local airlines, ferries, trains and hotels.
The company was founded in Februrary 2018, but the seed for the Toristy concept was planted a decade earlier when Toristy founder Steve Jackson couldn’t find a good fishing charter while on his honeymoon in Bora Bora. Jackson eventually did find a captain, but solely by word-of-mouth and thought there should be a better way. A “digital lifer,” with a career spanning website coding, digital marketing and analytics, and founder of several digital companies, Jackson’s first thought was that a global marketplace for fishing captains might fill a need. By 2018, that idea had expanded to developing niche marketplaces for all sorts of travel activities, and in order to do that, Toristy needed to have a solid reservation tool as the backbone of the service. They built their own, and now Toristy can create niche marketplaces and embed them anywhere, whether it be around a particular destination or a vertical activity like fishing.
Toristy seeks to serve tourists with cool, unforgettable experiences in the destinations in which they’re visiting. Toristy believes that tourists want tailored, cultural experiences reflecting the things that are unique about where they’re going, so as a platform, Toristy wants to help travelers locate those experiences easily while they’re in destination. Toristy accomplishes this by partnering with the websites of front-of-funnel entities that serve destinations like airlines, ferries, hotel chains, media companies that write about your destinations, and other tourist-driven websites. These partner entities have already done the heavy lifting of attracting the interested tourist, so it’s the best time to make an in-destination sale. Toristy embeds its operators’ offerings into those sites so those operators get the benefit of the partners’ traffic without paying unless a booking takes place.
By focusing on their mission, Tority creates win-win scenarios between themselves, their experience suppliers, and their partner enterprises, all while providing a great service for tourists. Today, Toristy’s main website audience comes from tour and activity operators from across the spectrum: from owners of small businesses to marketing and sales managers of larger businesses, and even to destination marketing companies.
Toristy attracts this audience because its platform is free to set-up and use (though they also sell for-fee point-and-click website solutions) and its “fair price program,” with a nominal 2.9% commission, was created for when sales come directly from the operators’ websites. Toristy further discloses that for reselling, they try to keep their commission around the 15% level, which includes the revenue share piece it gives to its partner entities.
Typical Toristy Operators
Toristy doesn’t focus isn’t on any particular kind of experiences. Instead, the company focuses on the types of purchase mechanisms, i.e., the type of booking that activity requires. For instance, it covers freesale tickets (typically parks with unlimited numbers of tickets), charters that reserve a time block and need managed resources, rentals that require hourly rates, accommodation that require price per night or room-based purchases. By building out its technology to accommodate these various scenarios, Toristy has been able to deliver all kinds of offers from scheduled tours, to multi-day tours with guides, to packaged accommodation with activities added on, to an hourly bike rental. With currently about 28-30 main categories of experiences and hundreds of sub-categories, there is no limit to the type of experience Toristy operators can offer.
Right now, Toristy’s geographic reach corresponds to regions where it has a sales team presence. Currently, the company has a strong foothold in Europe and APAC regions. They are looking to expand to the Unites States when they can get people on the ground there, probably later in 2021. If an operator agrees to do business with Toristy, Toristy either imports the operator’s products directly from their existing reservation tool via an API, or the operator can add their inventory into the Toristy platform manually themselves via our platform. Each new supplier is assigned a Toristy account manager who reaches then works to build more relationships for the destination-centric marketplace to create new and more partnership opportunities.
Talk about its cool, cultural “make operators famous” mission, Toristy shares its story about Susimaa, located in Lapland, Finland. Susimaa means “wolf country” in Finnish. That’s because the owners run a wolf dog sanctuary and are the only one of its kind in the Nordics that is open to public all year round. The owners live off the grid and established the sanctuary to enlighten people about wolves and dogs as well as how to live off the land on one’s own terms. Susimaa’s owners are very proud to showcase “that there is another way to co-exist with wolfdogs and dogs in general: give them freedom and be part of them. Likewise they are part of us.”
Susimaa takes guests in small groups, offering full-day and half-day tours of their farm, and allowing for safe interaction with the wolfdogs. They also offer photo shoots and walks with the wolves as well as tours around their farm and of the other animals.
As one of their guest’s 5-star reviews put it…
“We took a family of four today to meet the wolfdogs including two children ages 10 and 12. As a vet, I was particularly interested in the difference in the breed types from domesticated dogs of similar breed. It was fascinating to see and understand the bond between the owners and the dogs, and remarkable that the bond between them is so trusting as to allow strangers to come into their enclosures with them. The wolfdogs themselves are beautiful, very wolf-like in appearance, and the difference from other dogs in their nature was apparent and was highlighted by information from the owner. They are clearly very well understood and cared for — part of the family. Children and adults were all encouraged to have contact which was very closely supervised and guided. Not commercialised at all. Really interesting, highly recommend, a walk with the dogs would have been amazing (I hadn’t known was an option).”
Susimaa uses Toristy’s reservation tools on their own website to manage the online sales and were the first to use the Toristy/Redeam integration with Reserve with Google.
Toristy Partnerships Are Key
Toristy doesn’t only help operators; it can also help create partners, too. Take the story of Hayo Indonesia Wista, an APAC entity that wanted to bring an experience marketplace to Indonesia. It had originally approached a large global OTA to develop this with them, but when the pandemic struck, that OTA could no longer staff the development. Through a fortunate hire, Toristy was contacted and able to step in to pick up the project. In August 2021, it built the entire website. Hayo now currently has 1,000 activities for sale, and Hayo and Toristy are readying the site with another 5,000 products to sell once the pandemic restrictions start to ease. As Toristy’s partner in Indonesia, Hayo has a revenue-share arrangement and both companies are approaching local airlines, ferries and hotels to get Hayo’s in-destination inventory sold through those sites as well. In essence, Toristy has created a mini, niche OTA by providing the supply in a structured easy way and getting the tourist demand from enterprise traffic.
What’s in Store Next
We have seen first hand that Indonesia’s market for experiences is huge but the suppliers and the public will require some education as digital adoption is a little slower in Indonesia. To speed that up as well, we are creating a point-and-click website system for the market that we can offer suppliers that are struggling to get online. We’re building the templates now across all the categories we have starting with the most popular activities in Indonesia (like diving). This is to support the distribution and direct sales of small suppliers that currently have no web presence at all. While this is designed for Indonesia, it’s applicable all over the world for anyone who needs a fully e-commerce enabled travel experience website.
Additionally, we expect to continue building up market presence as the pandemic allows. The UK, for instance, is within easy reach for us and we have enough supply there to be able to approach transport companies and hotels. Since they are scheduled to start opening up in June 2021 (with the usual pandemic caveats), we’re excited to see if we can work there too and are actively looking for pilot UK cases.
What is unquestionable is that at a rapid pace, Toristy has gone from a newly-founded company to a successful player filling a void in travel’s tours and activities space. Redeam is excited to play a part in Toristy’s growth and in service to its operator customers!
Are you an Experience operator interested in an integration with Reserve with Google to generate incremental booking revenues, too? Visit Redeam’s Reserve with Google page today to learn more!