Tours and activities is the fastest growing sector in travel

The tours and activities sector is growing faster than the total travel market. According to Phocuswright, by next year it will grow to $183 billion.

Google recently published a report on this subject that provides some insight into how travellers search for tours and activities. The Think With Google Report highlighted that travellers will start their research 12 weeks before their trip.

During this time, the tours and activities sector receives 3x more searches than the hotel industry and 8x more searches than flights – and the volume of searches stays stable during that 12-week period.

Video is a defining factor

I have been harping on about using video as a marketing tool for many years. Video allows you to engage with your customers on a deeper level and it provides a platform for your tour guides and staff to shine and show their passions. This builds your brand reputation and helps your customers on their journey towards trusting your business. Also, as I mentioned in my story, it can help build lasting relationships, too. Google seems to agree with me…

“We also see travellers increasingly turning to videos to research what they’re going to get before they purchase. Savvy brands like Expedia are regularly uploading robust video content — like this video dedicated to Yellowstone National Park— on its YouTube channel for this audience to engage with.”

In another statement about video content,Google stated that “It also shows people what things will be like through the eyes of someone like them—rather than polished website pictures. The 600% increase in the time people spend watching these types of travel videos on YouTube shows that exploring other’s experiences is now a meaningful part of decision making.”

A 600% increase is incredible and it supports the advice I’ve been giving for a while. As someone who makes a living interpreting the digital travel industry, it’s very vindicating to see this huge, tangible increase.

The average user watches 32 videos per month online – This is around one per day and this number is only going to climb.

What does this mean for tour operators? 

With the platforms available, like Facebook or YouTube, you already have a captive audience. People are actively looking for videos — particularly ones based around destination or travel. Here are the numbers:

79% of travellers will search YouTube for ideas – This is a huge number. Nearly 80% of the world’s travellers will go to YouTube to look for inspiration.

67% of those travellers have yet to select a destination – This is an important statistic. This means that nearly 70% of those travellers looking for inspiration have yet to decide on a destination. I’ll come back to this later!

There is one stat, however, that really blows me away. According to research compiled by 3Mpeople process information with video 60,000 times faster than written information. Stop and let that sink in for a second. This means that a potential customer will process your information and potentially click your book or enquiry button 60,000 times faster than if you only used written content.

In-destination bookings

Google’s report also highlights that 48% of all tours and activity bookings happen when travellers arrive at their destination, with the majority on a mobile device. These travellers are searching for activities over a 3-month period but then book during their trip.

The way travellers search is also interesting. Mobile searches for “things to do” + “near me” have seen a 6x increase over the last two years. This means that all tour and activity operators must not neglect local SEO and less direct keywords..

To help improve your local SEO, Google My Business is an important step to get right. Why? When people search for a product or service near them, they’re usually ready to make a purchase, so it’s important that the information that displays about your business when your customers search is as accurate, complete, and as optimised as possible.


When it comes to your marketing strategies, local SEO and video are defining factors in persuading your customers to book with you. Google has just proved that the advice I have given for many years on each of these topics is a huge part of their purchase journey.

If you would like any advice on any of these aspects please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I also go into these topics in more detail in my upcoming book, Lookers Into Bookers.

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Chris and his team will send you a weekly email offering high-value insight and advice about a variety of marketing and business development topics related to the tourism industry. We address specific destinations, tours and activities, and the hotel industry. We also provide important travel industry news and updates.

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