Navigating a $300 Billion Industry: How Maguire’s TripAdmit & TipDirect are Changing Travel

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(John Maguire and Andy Kelly)

Travel is what many of us go to work for, and most of us can’t remember what traveling was like before the ease of booking our flights and hotels online. The great news is that TripAdmit Ltd is making adventuring easier and better with TipDirect. The dynamic and transformative technology solution is for activity providers and guides alike. Initially conceived as booking software for the disjointed and non-digital tour and activities sector, TipDirect is now a multifaceted engagement platform that continues to evolve and empower activity providers with the tools they need to grow exponentially and get a larger piece of a $300 Billion industry.

​​The tours and activities sector is a significant component of the travel industry, often overlooked despite being the third largest sector after airlines and hotels. It accounts for approximately 10% of the entire travel industry, surpassing the combined value of car rentals, packaged vacations, and cruises.

While hotels and airlines transitioned to online bookings 25 years ago, John Maguire, founder and CEO of TripAdmit Ltd., shares, “The tours and activities sector remained largely offline, with approximately 80% of bookings made offline, and it lacked industry standardization. This sector encompasses a wide range of activities, leading to fragmentation both in the sector itself and in its technological infrastructure. One positive of the COVID-19 pandemic is it accelerated the digitization of this sector as travelers shifted towards planning and booking activities online, and it forced the industry to adopt digital solutions to meet evolving consumer preferences.”

“We’re not reinventing the wheel; we’re coming up with a better wheel”

TripAdmit provides innovative solutions, including digital tipping software, booking software, and AI-assisted review generation. Their TipDirect platform enables activity providers and guides to facilitate digital tipping and collect reviews from guests conveniently through mobile devices. Additionally, TripAdmit offers upselling opportunities for other tours and integration with social media through their Social Connect functionality.

“We’ve focused on building end-to-end solutions for the tours and activities sector. This initially included booking software and channel management solutions for activity providers in the space to sell through their own websites or connect out to the OTAs and, most recently, digital tipping for the guides. Our AI review assistant ‘assists’ guests with writing a quick and comprehensive review, which we launched in the last twelve months and it is now, along with digital tipping, the primary focus of the company,” notes Maguire.

He adds, “We are a customer engagement solution for activity providers. And to help them, we provide a solution for their guides with digital tipping. Guides are hard to come by, good ones, even more so, by having a cashless solution for tipping, we are helping activity providers find and retain the best guides in the industry.”

The genesis of TripAdmit

Maguire “got hooked” early in his career while working at Ticketmaster. “I was brought in to look after the website 25 or so years ago. There were days when we sold nothing online. And I remember the first day that we sold ten tickets online, and we couldn’t believe it. We sold ten tickets online for an 80,000-seater concert,” he laughs. “But I also remember the first day we sold 100, and I remember the first day we sold 100,000 tickets online. And that happened over the course of five years. Yeah, it just went and took off from there.”

“And then, at the same time you had Google starting to appear, Facebook turned up, then Google Ads, Facebook ads, and then social media took over and sales and marketing changed forever.”

Since then, Maguire has spent approximately a quarter of a century in the travel and entertainment industry, including four-plus years at Aer Lingus. As a department ambassador and in senior management roles, he has led cross-functional initiatives, including website redesign, digital marketing strategy implementation across multiple markets, brand identity, as well as aligned eCommerce development and strategy and championed multi-channel approaches, preparing him well for building TripAdmit Ltd and applying his expertise. He admits he has always had an avid interest in the technology side of the business.

“My foundation in e-commerce, whether it was Ticketmaster or Aer Lingus at the airlines, it all comes down to driving qualified traffic, getting conversions, average order values, and making sure that usability is at the center of everything we do at TripAdmit.” Maguire laughs, “And yeah, my favorite pastime is doing QA on a new feature. That’s how I destress. I know it drives the rest of the team nuts because the CEO is sitting there doing QA, but I do it for enjoyment.”

He notes, “I love figuring out solutions for complex and non-complex problems. And hence, where we’ve ended up with the digital tipping and AI review assistant product, and now we have a much wider team at this stage.”

A key part of that team is Andy Kelly, Co-founder and CTO of TripAdmit. “He is a full stack developer, so he is the brains behind the technology side of TripAdmit, and I’m the commercial side of it,” Maguire shares.

Ask and you will receive, with Andy Kelly, that is

Maguire shares the story of their collaboration. “Andy and I worked together just prior to starting Tripadmit, and we just clicked. I had a TripAdmit version working around inside my brain and mentioned it to him. And I remember three days later he came back with version one built on his mobile phone. He showed it to me and went, ‘Is this what you were talking about? And it’s like, yes it is!’”

Kelly’s full-stack development background pairs well with Maguire’s. “He has worked a lot of his career in the translation sector, ensuring that code is compatible with the needs of multilingual and multi-territory offerings. He eats and sleeps APIs and artificial intelligence. Obviously, with the advances in AI in the last twelve months, he’s over the moon with that side of it. He’s worked for Microsoft and Sagen. Tripadmit is also not his first startup; he has a number of them under his belt, both good and bad, and that helps us.”

The traction, the future outlook, and the industry impact of TipDirect

The response to TipDirect is very encouraging. “Nobody thinks of tours and activities when they think of tipping because it’s not something you do every day. And the size of the industry itself is gigantic. With first mover advantage on our side and a massive head start on any potential challengers, we are firmly going after this sector to take ownership of it. The clients we have already signed-up are some of the largest in the sector like City Sightseeing. They are the largest hop-on/hop-off bus tour company operating in 100 cities across 35 countries and on 6 continents. We are getting inbound enquiries every day and are firmly laying the foundations to cement our dominant position.

Looking ahead, TripAdmit is poised to continue its upward trajectory, fueled by a steadfast commitment to innovation and a relentless drive for excellence. As the travel industry undergoes rapid transformation, TripAdmit is shaping the future of travel technology.

With Maguire and Kelly at the helm, TripAdmit is going to make a lasting impact. They are revolutionizing the way tours and activities are booked, experienced, tipped and remembered. “Of all the products I’ve worked on in my entire career, this is the one I’m the most proud of, the technology behind the digital tipping and the AI review tools is truly amazing, the UX and simplicity of the user interface is magnificent, ultimately it is a great idea wrapped up in an amazing product design.

Go to TripAdmit Ltd and TipDirect to find out more.

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