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2022 Industry Tech Trends: Great News for Galaxy Connect Users

Published: February 24, 2022 | Share on LinkedIn

Our Galaxy Connect team recently attended the Arival 360 Conference, a live event all about tech and innovation in the tours, attractions and experiences space. They spent the week attending sessions and meeting with industry professionals, and they identified clear trends that will impact the industry in 2022. If you’re a Galaxy Connect user or considering Galaxy Connect, pay close attention, as these represent opportunities to improve your operations and your revenue now and in the future.

Variable Pricing and Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)

Variable pricing is nothing new, although many attractions are still struggling with the decision to move to variable/dynamic pricing. The fear is the backlash from guests when prices initially change, and then when they see in the long term it costs more, or less, to visit during particular days and times. We’re not going to rehash this argument except to say, all of our attractions that leverage variable pricing have experienced positive impacts on revenue and operations that far outweigh the downsides of any backlash.

So what is new then? Due to the demand for variable pricing on the attraction supplier side, OTAs are increasing their support of this same strategy on their side. And that is BIG news for attractions that leverage Galaxy Connect.

In the current model, attraction suppliers may contract with an OTA to sell tickets at a certain price, which may be a set price or perhaps a percentage on top of the standard priced ticket. Attractions that use variable pricing, but can’t reflect the variability of their prices on the OTA site, may just set the OTA ticket price to align with their highest price point. Some OTAs have developed a partially manual process to allow attractions to operate a simple variable pricing strategy on their sites. Some suppliers too have created different products with different prices instead of one product with variable prices. Suffice it to say…the process on all sides is far from ideal.

Moving into 2022 and beyond, this process will continue to change. Attractions suppliers will be able to reflect their true variable pricing strategy on OTA sites. In fact, Galaxy Connect already supports this with specific Gateway approved dynamic pricing companies.

For the System Administrators and backend Galaxy users reading this post and thinking about moving to or perfecting a variable pricing strategy, it’s important to bring in your Sales and Marketing folks. They are going to understand the ramifications from an OTA perspective and may have valuable insights into operating that strategy on the OTA side.

Google things to do and Supplier Selling Power

As we move further into 2022 you will start to hear more and more about Google Things to do, an evolution of Reserve by Google. Galaxy System Administrators and their Sales and Marketing teams need to pay attention to this.

With Reserve by Google, attraction suppliers have to work with a proxy organization to get their tickets published on the platform. So for example, Galaxy users work with a third party, not Gateway and Galaxy Connect, to have their ticket and purchasing information published on the Reserve platform. Purchases were made through the proxy site, sort of like an OTA site, and not on the attraction supplier’s site. The process of being listed is more manual, and the process of managing the purchase and collecting payment is more convoluted.

Google Things to do is changing that. The platform handles listings similar to Google Ads – if you’re familiar with how those operate. In simplified terms, attraction suppliers can set themselves up in the Google Things to do platform and then Google will curate their web store for tickets and prices and use that information to populate their listing. If a guest clicks on the listing, they’re dropped into the purchase flow on the attraction’s own site, and the transaction follows from there. The service is free for now. But ultimately Google will charge, likely similar to the cost-per-action structure of Google Ads.

This leads to one giant change in the attraction supplier and OTA distributor dynamic. Suppliers will soon have the power to outbid distributors for the top listings on the platform, whereas with Reserve by Google, OTA distributor sites almost always take the top listing spots. Now you may ask: will attractions just be taking the money they paid in commissions to OTAs and now use it instead to pay for top listing on the Things to do platform? It remains to be seen what the right marketing mix will be, and it will certainly remain beneficial to keep strong relationships with all key distributors. But it’s something to definitely have on your radar and start planning for.

On Gateway’s end, we are working on functionality for our hosted eGalaxy Web Store customers that will enable them to leverage a sales channel to push product information to the Google Things to do platform for the “official site” listing. This will be separate from Galaxy Connect. When we have additional information about this functionality, we’ll let everyone know.

Standardization, Like in the Airline Industry

The airline industry uses Global Distribution Systems, which are networks/platforms that aggregate travel data like flight times, destinations, prices etc. Then, OTAs and flight aggregation sites like Kayak will connect into these platforms to pull the necessary information when a consumer performs a flight search. Two of the most common platforms are Sabre and Amadeus. There’s others too, but really just a few. And the key here is that there aren’t hundreds or thousands of places that Kayak needs to query through an API connection to find the information the consumer wants.

Let’s say you want to book a flight from Gilbertsville, Pennsylvania to Ottawa, Canada and you search for flights on Kayak. We all know you’ll get a thousand results: American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, Spirit, the list goes on. But Kayak didn’t pull these results from each individual airline site, it just pulled the information from the aggregated data on a Global Distribution System like Sabre.

It’s not like that in our space. If an OTA wants to sell attraction supplier tickets, generally speaking, they need to establish an individual connection with each supplier. That’s a lot of work. And a lot of maintenance. When Galaxy Connect came around, we simplified that process by enabling OTAs to establish just one API connection with Connect to gain access to the data for every Galaxy attraction on the Connect platform. But that only works for attractions using Galaxy Connect. What about all the other attractions out there using all the other ticketing systems?

Tours, attractions and experiences selling tickets on OTA sites is still a relatively young strategy, and so we don’t have the standardization, the Global Distribution System, that the airline or hotel industries have. But it was a huge topic at Arival this year – the march towards standardization. It will be interesting to see what organization becomes the Sabre or Amadeus of the attractions space, and how that will transform how we operate in this perspective.

Overwhelming Optimism

Lastly, we just wanted to point out that the energy at the conference was overwhelmingly optimistic. The general feeling is that tours, attractions and experiences consumers will continue to adapt to the challenges of living in a Covid world and continue to return to our attractions in numbers that support sustenance and growth.

“Revenge Travel” was even a term thrown around.

Additionally, Covid has accelerated the conversations and development of strategies like variable pricing and standardization. We were forced to more quickly adapt to the demands of consumers purchasing in a digital space, and that will pay exponential dividends in the years to come.

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