Hopper jumps into the travel experiences game with PlacePass acquisition

Oct 19, 2021

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Travel app Hopper has acquired PlacePass, one of the largest activities aggregators in the world. Not only will Hopper offer its own travel experiences on the app, but it will also power Marriott Bonvoy’s Tours and Activities platform through Hopper Cloud.

The rollout is currently slated for sometime in 2022, though Hopper has yet to release an official launch date.

This is Hopper’s first foray into the travel experiences business, joining other major brands such as Airbnb and Amazon in offering unique tours, activities and virtual experiences to users.

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“We’re thrilled to join such a dynamic and innovative team and accelerate Hopper’s entry into the tours and activities space,” said Ethan Hawkes, CEO and co-founder of PlacePass, in a press release.

You can find a wide range of bookable experiences on PlacePass — everything from a day cruise to Bimini in the Bahamas from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to a New York City sunset sailing to a New Orleans mafia, murder and madames historical tour.

Screenshot of the PlacePass website with available experiences in the US
(Screenshot courtesy of PlacePass)

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to book experiences through the PlacePass website once experiences are introduced on the Hopper app. You’ll have to go through Hopper to book PlacePass activities.

Remember that PlacePass also runs Marriott Bonvoy’s Tours and Activities platform, which allows you to earn points on your tour and activities bookings. For example, a $199 luxury sunset sailing experience in San Diego will earn 549 Bonvoy points (on top of any other points you earn through using the right credit card).

Little, if anything, will change in how you book experiences through Marriott due to this acquisition, but we could see additional functionality come to the platform.

Hopper Cloud also offers products such as “Cancel For Any Reason” travel coverage. Hopper told TPG that while it will power Marriott Bonvoy’s Tours and Activities platform, the rest of the brand’s fintech offerings will not initially be integrated into the platform.

However, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that we’ll see deeper integration down the road.

“We are currently in a supercycle of travel, with high consumer demand for novel tours and activities,” said Frederic Lalonde, CEO and cofounder of Hopper, in a press release. “It’s a natural extension for Hopper to look holistically at the trip our customers are taking and offer the best experiences to enrich the travel journey.”

Hopper’s growing footprint

Hopper is well on its way to becoming a giant in the travel space. What started as a price prediction tool to help users maximize savings when booking flights has transformed into a consumer-facing OTA and a broader provider of fintech and travel software for other brands.

Screenshot of Hopper app on the iTunes store
(Screenshot courtesy of iTunes)

App users can book flights, hotels and rental cars through Hopper while using tools such as price prediction, price freeze, price drop guarantee and more. And businesses that partner with Hopper Cloud can offer these tools and more to their own customers.

Hopper has also made leaps in the partnership space — linking up with Capital One to power the credit card issuer’s new travel portal, partnering with Lufthansa Group to access New Distribution Capability (which is an IATA program that helps airlines sell flights through travel agents and other third-party booking platforms) and teaming up with Amadeus to bring price freeze and “Cancel For Any Reason” coverage to its customers.

The company is one of the few in the travel industry to grow at this scale during the pandemic. According to a press release from Hopper, it’s just getting started.

As Capital One’s new travel portal is rolled out and the transformation from this new acquisition comes to fruition, it will be interesting to see where Hopper expands next.

Photo by AerialPerspective Images/Getty Images.

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