Polymath LLC, a United States based accounting firm specializing in business strategy services for adventure tour companies, launched their comparison study in the hopes of simplifying the software selection process for small businesses. The tour industry is being disrupted by emerging technology, and there are currently over 150 booking apps for tour businesses to choose from. The hope for the study is to streamline the app selection process, making it easier for tour operators to choose the solution that will be the best fit for their needs and allowing them to get back to what they love: experiencing the world with their clients.
"No small business owner has the time to demo all of these apps," says Ingrid Edstrom, President and CEO of Polymath LLC. "Our clients have been asking us which one is the best fit for each of them, and we wanted to more fully educate ourselves to give them proper advice. While we're doing that, we may as well make our findings a resource to the whole tours community. After all, a rising tide raises all ships."
Polymath is building a database of the applications, tracking dozens of features for each in a standardized, comparable format. Several technology providers have already shown their support for the study, offering to be the first to populate the database with their information and providing insight into the most effective ways to organize the features. This resource is now available to everyone on their website at no charge, and participating software providers can update their own information as needed.
The needs of tours and activities businesses vary widely. As a result, it isn't effective to find a one-size-fits-all solution. For example, the needs of a paddle boat company that offers tours and rentals as well as sales of boards and accessories are very different from the needs of a custom safari operator, doing multi-day excursions that are usually paid for months in advance. The company booking and payment workflows actually have very little in common, yet many apps are trying to serve the industry as a whole, rather than specializing in a niche group. Many tour business owners have grown frustrated by the process of being sold software that promises to save them time, just to find that a cumbersome workaround may be needed for some of their most standard processes.
"We like the idea of being 'Switzerland' in the app selection discussion," says Edstrom. "Since the study is being done by an impartial 3rd party, rather than one of the app companies, tour operators can trust that we're not trying to sell them one option over another. It's all about finding the best fit for each business's unique needs."
Though the ATALS is now live, Polymath's work on the project is far from over. Technology is constantly changing, and software is always evolving to match the growing needs of experience providers. To assist in this process, Polymath is seeking tour operators, software providers, and other travel community leaders to offer their experiences, insight, and feedback. The provider and user contributions on this early stage in the study will help to ensure that no important features are overlooked, and it costs nothing to participate.
"We would love to hear your experience with the app you're using, even if you've decided not to use an app or to build your own custom software," adds Edstrom. "We need to know what your needs are in your company and what you would like from your apps. New technology is coming out every day, and what worked for us yesterday could be obsolete in a flash. When that happens, we want to make sure that tour operators can easily discern the right path for them. We want as many brains on this as we can get!"
To learn more about the #ATLAS or join the discussion, visit https://www.polymath.com/atlas or join the "Cultural & Adventure Tour Leaders - Business Strategy Group" on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/TourStrategy/. Current ATTA members can also join the #ATLAS Group on the AdventureHUB at https://members.adventuretravel.biz/groups/167.
"What applications are you currently using in your business?" asks Edstrom. "What do you love about those apps? What are your major pain points with those apps? Please help us help you by relating your experience. We look forward to hearing from you and to seeing you online."