Techweek

PlacePass adds more fun to your travel

By    |   October 5, 2018, 6:45 am EDT

PlacePass invites you to be a traveler, not a tourist

Travelers today have shown an inclination for discovering local experiences over “touristy” activities, and PlacePass is looking to capture it. Popular travel brands including TripAdvisor, Airbnb, Google etc., have introduced online bookings for tours and activities. The director of travel and leisure research at Mintel, Fiona O’Donnell also thinks that local experiences are the new trend. She says,

“Guests want to feel like they are experiencing something in the design or the local flavor.”

placepass-traveler-not-touristThis coincides with a boom in the online travel industry. The non-hotel segment of TripAdvisor grew to $110 million in the third quarter of 2016, which is a 35 percent increase compared to the previous quarter.

Almost $150 billion worth of transactions that are expected to move online by 2030, which suggests that this boom will continue. The shift towards booking experiences online suggests that this space will have to mature, bringing better quality to match customer expectations.

The activity discovery system is still broken

Travel isn’t moving online as quickly as everyone might expect.  Booking holidays often takes a lot of research, scheduling, and budgeting. What you do on a tour depends on your interests, time available, and budget constraints. Hence, it is important for an online booking platform to cater to the needs of all kinds of travelers by providing a wide plethora of options.  

However, most of the booking platforms don’t provide enough relevant information for travelers to make a decision. They also don’t offer good refund and cancellation policies to accommodate any delays or changes to your travel itinerary. Further, multiple bookings can create coordination issues. Instead of enjoying your trip, you end up spending time in coordinating and communicating with different service providers.  

Enter PlacePass

PlacePass aims to solve these travel woes. The online platform allows travelers to search for activities and tour packages. PlacePass scans hundreds of travel and tour operator websites to offer a list of packages to choose from. You can also compare prices with other websites.

PlacePass has curated tours and activities in more than 180 countries, and claims to add new experiences every week. Whether you are looking to explore offbeat places or traveling with your family, PlacePass’s extensive collection has many options to choose from.

The startup brings you these experiences through partnerships with some reputed service providers such as Urban Adventures, GetYourGuide, Viator, CityPASS, LivingSocial, and Groupon. These partners also work with PlacePass to offer users deals and discounts.

With all this information, PlacePass makes it easier to book experiences online and bypasses third-parties and mediators.

Marriott International announced its investment in PlacePass last year. The partnership will allow guests staying at Marriott hotels to book packages and experiences from more than 10,000 options. Guests will now be able to book PlacePass offerings via the Marriott and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) apps and websites.

Meet the founders 

“We take friction out of the research and booking process. We are the first metasearch site dedicated to tours and activities.”

Ethan Hawkes, Co-founder, PlacePass

PlacePass was started in 2016 by a team of entrepreneurs, travelers, and tech geeks with a motto to help people have a great time.

Ethan Hawkes and Emily Bernard are both avid travelers with a keen interest in trying out local experiences. During their tours, they personally experienced the frustration of going back and forth, trying to coordinate with different booking platforms. The duo noticed that there was no single aggregator in the travel industry that can provide end-to-end services. To solve the issue and help fellow travelers, PlacePass was born.

Hawkes’s experience in sales and marketing and Bernard’s experience of working in the hospitality industry gave them several opportunities to understand the industry and build relationships. As Emily Bernard says,

“Relationships are key to entrepreneurial success!”

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