Travel Daily

Livn pilots Google trial

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CONNECTIVI­TY hub Livn has been chosen by Google as a partner for a new pilot project called Things to do, an initiative designed to help operators in the tours and experience­s space achieve better visibility via organic online searches.

The Australian-based company will use its unique tech to power the ‘official site’ button in Google’s new project, which will see participat­ing operators able to appear at the top of searches and therefore drive more direct traffic to their websites than was available previously.

Replacing the recently phased out Reserve with Google project (TD 01 Jul), Things to do will shift the bookings trail from online travel agencies (OTAs), who were previously partners in processing bookings for Google on the back end, to operators directly, a pivot that Livn CEO Mark Rizzuto believes will ultimately “level the playing field” - particular­ly for smaller players in the sector.

“I believe that through the pilot, tour operators and traditiona­l operators are going to have significan­tly greater control of their own distributi­on and pricing strategy,” Rizzuto told TD.

“Previously searches involving smaller tour companies would take users off to places like Booking.com and Expedia and they would complete the booking, and these smaller businesses would then lose 30% of their product pricing through a commission to a large OTA who has bid on their name and stolen their lunch from beneath them.”

The trial will see Livn provide the data for Google to create the listing, so that they have all the product informatio­n and photos, as well as power the link behind the button that will redirect the booking to the operator’s website where they can complete the sale directly.

Rizzuto also believes the trial has the potential to vastly improve the traveller experience by bringing the silent majority of smaller operators to the surface of searches, only a quarter of which he stated are currently embedded in bigger res systems.

“There’s a real opportunit­y here for Google to provide a much richer consumer experience by reaching far deeper into the pond, [so] when people search for ‘what can I do in Sydney’, they’re not just getting the Sydney Opera House or a walk around the Rocks, they are potentiall­y getting a surfing lesson with a world champion at Bondi Beach instead.”

The cost to get involved will be a small monthly subscripti­on fee (well under $100) in time, but for now Rizzuto said the registrati­ons are free for at least three months as the mobile-only pilot continues to take shape, which at this stage is only open to attraction­s companies, with a view to tour and activity operators to join the trial after that - register HERE.

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