For and against rolling up reztech in 2023 – Checkfront / Rezdy

July 20th, 2023

by Alex Bainbridge

Depending upon your perspective, the big news this week was either the Checkfront / Rezdy shared ownership announcement, or Tripadvisor launching their AI tour itinerary generating service to consumers. Here is how both stories can be viewed from a singular perspective and are relevant to more than just suppliers who use Checkfront / Rezdy.

But first, you should know, back in the day (2003-2016 or so) I was CEO of TourCMS, and we did a rollup with Palisis to form the largest non-OTA owned rez tech platform (by transaction). That was a slightly different scenario to Checkfront / Rezdy as we had a big overlap in supplier customers, TourCMS (my biz) had their OTA distribution / websites, and Palisis had their on vehicle & street seller ticketing hardware. i.e. it was inevitable that either TourCMS would buy Palisis, or Palisis would buy TourCMS. Anyways, those are my credentials to talk about this topic.

Lets consider arguments for and against a rollup of similar rez tech platforms (as opposed to a rollup of companies at different layers of the stack for the same supplier clients, as my 2016 rollup in this sector was).

Arguments for

  • Clients – both Checkfront / Rezdy have similar yet distinct clients (distinct both geographically and needs wise) so there these opportunities for each to take advantages of the strengths: 1+1=3
  • Economies of scale – e.g. want to go a Google things to do integration, just do one rather than two: 1+1=3

On paper this makes sense. But this sector doesn’t run on paper, at least not now.

Arguments against

  • Challenging execution – do you….
    – move every supplier to a single platform? – any time you ask a client company to change rez tech, even to an in house one, that is an opportunity for that client to move to ANY platform
    – or you keep supplier clients on their existing tech they are familiar with, a bit painful as the required economies of scale are harder to deliver to the new owners
  • Klook/GetYourGuide both have shared ownership (to some degree) – SoftBank. But they don’t act as one. They don’t seem to have used any advantages that shared ownership could have brought them. If Checkfront / Rezdy remain separate (as has been discussed), will they be like GetYourGuide / Kook and fail to create synergies?

My view

Beyond “where is the consumer in this?”, I see this as an exec level distraction.

AI makes the rez tech layer obsolete over time within tour operating. Sure we will have attraction & activity rez tech but tour operator rez tech is about to change significantly. I fear that the exec team at Checkfront / Rezdy will spend the next 2-3 years inward facing, missing the tour operating technology move.

This is fine if the subset of the market they care about is attractions, activities and booking non-tourism date specific services but not fine if they care about tour operating. To those paying attention, sorry, yes this is the same point I always make. Ok, lets see if I can make the point without using my own tech…… lets use Tripadvisor tech instead as they have been in the news this week….

This new Tripadvisor AI itinerary tool – where is the tour operator rez tech in that? Where even is the tour operator / tour guide in this?


Or this AI tour guide tool, that is partnered with Tripadvisor, where is the tour operator rez tech in that?

When you combine (which Tripadvisor undoubtedly will) their already demoed capability to design tours using AI, and operate tours using AI…… thats the new Digital Experience Platform approach I have been talking about for several years. Tripadvisor are doing it and it doesn’t require any tour operating rez tech (beyond attraction / activity booking).

Tour operator rez tech is not part of the new approach

The one mitigation to missing the move is that now Checkfront / Rezdy has a sugar daddy who can buy them out of a problem. But GetYourGuide is also out there needing to buy themselves out of exactly the same problem. And there are not that many companies to buy.

Interesting next 24 months ahead.

ExperienceThis also covered the Checkfront / Rezdy news – take a listen

Image: Bing Image Creator

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