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Dermot Halpin / TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor buys Icelandic tour-tech firm

Competition is heating up in the tour-tech space, with Booking Holdings also buying.

Competition is heating up in the tour-tech space as the online giants TripAdvisor and Booking Holdings (owner of Booking.com, Priceline.com, Kayak, Agoda and others) buy Bokun and FareHarbor, respectively.

TripAdvisor’s acquisition of Bokun, an Iceland-based firm making software for tours and attractions, will help the review giant expand its products by “providing suppliers with technical solutions”, news sources say.

“Our opportunity in this space is enormous. We’re committed to taking the experiences sector far beyond its current online penetration of just 20%, and Bokun will play a critical role in this mission,” claims Dermot Halpin (pictured), president of TripAdvisor Experiences and Rentals.

TripAdvisor says it will cut the pricing of Bokun’s product from monthly subscriptions of €100 to “a fraction of a per cent per booking”, making it far under the industry standard of 5% to 6%.

It is “a new phase” for TripAdvisor as its tries to grow beyond its core offering as a distribution channel, with Halpin adding that Bokun is expected to simplify distribution for suppliers and improve the shopping experience for travellers.

Bokun will remain based in Iceland, with plans to expand the team, according to Skift, but the terms of the purchase were not revealed.

Bringing local online
In a similar move, Booking Holdings announced it was buying FareHarbor, a Denver-based provider of software for booking activities and experiences.

“Today travel is fuelled by technology, yet the local experiences and attractions marketplace is still largely offline,” said Gillian Tans of Booking Holdings at the time.

“We see an immense opportunity to leverage this technology to bring more local experiences online, benefitting the entire global travel ecosystem for both consumers and local businesses by allowing them to connect instantly through a seamless digital experience.”

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