Tech of the Week: ZOZI Answers Growing Tour and Activity Demand
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Travel isn’t always about rest and relaxation. For so many it’s an opportunity to walk, run, surf, hike and explore.
T.J. Sassani, founder and CEO of ZOZI, understands that need to scour your intended destination and come back with activities that will invigorate the spirit.
Thankfully, Sassani was nice enough to lend some thoughts on the landscape of the industry and speak a bit on ZOZI as both a marketplace service in the form of its ZOZI Advance software as well as a consumer solution for myriad tours around the world.
For the consumer, you can take a virtual hike around ZOZI.com, which provides a way to track down experiences with specific activity sections.
Going “Off The Grid” highlights a seven-day Amazonian tour that you will never forget, for example.
For tour operators, ZOZI also has a wide solution to your needs, including a way to field bookings and manage reservations.
It’s essentially a two-pronged answer to a massive demand from travelers across the globe.
Sassani, as we mentioned earlier, was kind enough to tell us more.
TravelPulse: Can you speak briefly to ZOZI and the need it fills in the travel marketplace?
T.J. Sassani: We think of ZOZI as broader than a travel company. Our purpose is to inspire people to experience the world, whether that’s right down the street or across the globe. For tour and activity operators, we provide software (called ZOZI Advance) to help them run and grow their business. This includes being able to take online bookings, manage reservations, and accept mobile payments. For consumers, we help people discover and book things to do. We have tens of thousands of activities in our marketplace to choose from. The two sides of our business allow us to connect more consumers with great experiences to grow the tour and activity industry.
TP: What was the impetus behind its inception?
TS: The idea behind ZOZI came from my own travel experience. I founded ZOZI after a life-changing Jerry Maguire moment.
The year was 2006, and I was a business consultant on a plane to Boston. I saw an older businessman tiredly storing his luggage. Picturing myself in his position in 30 years, the realization hit me full-force: this was not the right path for me. Less than half an hour after my plane touched down on the runway, I resigned. The next year was spent traversing the globe. But everywhere I went, I found it difficult to book local activities and experiences. This, in turn, inspired me to found a company that would connect travelers with incredible experiences.
TP: Hotels and airlines are well accustomed to catering to consumers with an online marketplace. And consumers have come to expect just as much. Have you found as much ease in convincing tour operators and consumers to use a service as innovative as ZOZI?
TS: We’re seeing strong demand from tour and activity operators wanting to list their activities in the ZOZI marketplace to reach more customers. Operators know customers increasingly expect easy and immediate access to discover and book activities from anywhere. One of ZOZI’s key differentiators is the ability to provide real-time booking through the ZOZI marketplace for operators who manage their reservations through our ZOZI Advance software. This helps operators deliver a great experience to customers starting from the point of booking.
TP: What trends, if any, are you seeing among the varying demographics such as millennials eager to use a tour guide service?
TS: One major trend is millennials increasingly choosing their travel destinations based on activities and experiences. For example: “I really want to go to a surf camp for my next trip, so I’ll research the best surf camps in the world.” This is very different than having Costa Rica on the top on my travel list and then looking for things to do once I’m in Costa Rica. This shift requires tour operators to focus on having a strong online and mobile presence with a focus on differentiating their experiences from other competitors on a global basis.
TP: What offerings do you see ZOZI adding in the future?
TS: ZOZI’s brand has always been grounded in outdoor activities and lifestyle. These include activities like boating, hiking, and biking, but we’re also expanding meaningfully into other categorieslike cooking classes and brewery tours.
Ultimately, we’re focused on offering compelling experiences that enrich people’s lives, and those can happen anywhere and take many different forms. We want to be the first place people go when they are looking for something fun to do.
TP: How has ZOZI's (Advance) app affected the overall reception of the digital travel industry from a tour guide perspective? Are there any trends in that regard?
TS: Our ZOZI Advance app allows tour and activity operators to run their business from anywhere. Whether it’s viewing customer bookings for the day, accepting payments in-person with a card reader, or coordinating with staff and customers, our mobile app provides operators business critical capabilities from their mobile phones and iPad. The app has been very positively received by operators as it frees them up to do what they love most, offering great experiences for their customers. We continue to invest in our mobile experiences for both operators and consumers.
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