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Could travel still win gold in Paris?

Could travel still win gold in Paris?

Over the last few months the 2024 Paris Olympics has been presenting a golden opportunity for the travel industry, with short-term rental platforms already experiencing a surge in bookings.
But what are the last minute opportunities left now for the travel industry to make the most of the Olympics? What kinds of challenges and even risks exist for those involved in selling Olympic related products? And with only a few left till it starts, could the opportunities really be over before the games have even started?

We spoke to leaders across the travel technology space to find out how they see this special event.
“Big events have always been a huge driver of travel, from sporting events to major concerts, and the Olympics is no exception,” said Douglas Quinby, CEO and Co-Founder of Arival, the go-to research resource and event organiser for tours, activities and attractions operators.  “Operators and sellers of tours, attractions and experiences in Paris and its environs have an incredible opportunity this summer, especially as more and more travelers seek out once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Experiences operators need to offer something very different and original if they’re going to take a slice of the action – offering people the opportunity to experience the Olympics in unique and personal ways.  They must also prepare for a very different Paris – the city will also be transformed over those three weeks in July and August, and operators must research ahead and be prepared to adapt their own scheduling and operations.”
The Olympics also highlights the significance of bundling. “The key to standing out in a crowded marketplace during the Olympics is offering a holistic experience,” says Fatih Muku, Co-Founder of Bedsopia, a B2B accommodation booking platform.  “Travelers, especially those coming from afar, often seek convenience and particularly certainty, they don’t want to leave anything to chance.  By offering attractive flight and hotel bundles, travel companies can cater to this need and differentiate themselves.  It’s therefore particularly important to focus on gaining access to a wide range of accommodation content in locations near where the Olympics will take place, ensuring travelers can find the perfect fit for a broad range of budgets and preferences. There are still bookings going ahead and we’d expect to see some right till the last minute.”
Servantrip, a leading B2B hub for tours, transfers & activities used by travel agents and tour operators, highlights that one particular area is causing travel agents and tour operators a headache right now for the games: transfers. CEO Manuel Núñez comments “Demand clearly is through the roof, in part because there’s many luxury visitors for the event and they expect a high-end transfer – but there’s only so many such drivers and cars available. More challenging though is that traffic jams will be hard to predict, not just because of higher levels of traffic but because so many streets will be closing and opening due to security restrictions. If you’re booking a transfer for your client my strong advice would be to allow a lot of extra time and to warn the client to be patient.”
Sticking with theme of catering to those already in the destination, Craig Everett, Founder and CEO from Holibob – the experiences tech provider to tourism boards and online travel sellers – feels that this is perhaps the last big opportunity up for grabs. “Perhaps most who will come have already booked their flight and hotel by now, they might have their entrance tickets to a few of their favourite games events too, but travelers also want to experience the city’s rich culture, history, and gastronomy – and at this stage they not only won’t have booked that, they haven’t even given any thought to. That presents a golden opportunity for brands or attractions to proactively target them with a personalised selection of curated things to do – ensuring they book through them rather than searching aimlessly on the internet.”
But with more than 15 million people expected to visit Paris during the Olympics, tour operators should be prepared, warns Juana Muro COO of TourReview, a platform for tours & activities providers to manage their online reviews. “A surge in visitors can put a strain on resources.  Overcrowded attractions, long lines, and limited availability can lead to declining service quality.  This is why, tour operators should take their time preparing for the massive entry of tourists into Paris. Hiring more people, training their team to deal with chaos and the exceeding amount of work hours, looking for not-so-overcrowded alternatives for transportation, meals, etc. So, the tour quality won’t be compromised, the risk of negative reviews will decrease, and their online reputation will be undamaged.”