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About Arival 360

Arival 360(opens in a new tab) is one of the biggest conferences of the year for the tourism industry that brings together experts from across the industry(opens in a new tab) (including: marketing, OTAs, sales, media, waivers, booking softwares, sales, communications, business development, distribution, events, design, web developers, and more!) a diverse group of attendees(opens in a new tab), including tour and activity operators of all types and sizes from around the world. Over the course of 5 days, with over 150 sessions and over 100 speakers, it offers informative sessions to gain insight and an opportunity to network within the industry, particularly valuable given the challenging year and as we all look towards the future. And circumstantially, it just so happens that this global event has headed online this year.

Our Interview with Mitch Bach from TripSchool

We spoke with Mitch Bach, co-founder of TripSchool(opens in a new tab) “the leading innovator in online and in-person learning for tour guides and operators” to find out more about their business, what they have planned for their full-day of workshops and presentations at this year’s conference (a must-attend for tour operators and guides!), and his hopes for the future of TripSchool and the tourism industry in general.

Tell us a bit about TripSchool and what you offer?

Mitch: TripSchool offers lifelong learning for tour operators, guides & tour directors. We teach guide training classes for individuals and companies, and offer a range of lifelong learning for everyone to continue to grow their business and their skills, from entrepreneurship classes to storytelling and technology workshops. We’ve always hosted dozens of in-person classes throughout the year, but 2020 has forced us to pivot to a variety of new online programs. But our mission has always remained the same: to offer continuing education programs for guides to continue to grow their skillset, and to help companies solve growth and training challenges by bringing our TripSchool expertise into their world.

What types of tour businesses do you work with?

Mitch: We work with a lot of brand new tour businesses, putting together all the learning you need into a step-by-step program, complete with live and recorded sessions to keep you motivated. We designed it to be the program we wish we’d had when we started our tour businesses close to two decades ago! But for existing tour companies, we offer a “tune-up”, which one of our clients describes as “therapy for your tour businesses”. We’re not a marketing firm, we’re guest and product experience people. So we take a holistic experience-centric look at your business, and make sure you’re developing the best tours you can, explaining your story to the world, and creating a customer journey that keeps guests addicted to you!

What are your thoughts on Arival 360 adapting to the current situation by moving online, and what other positive adaptations have you seen within the industry?

Mitch: Listen, online events are a curse and a blessing. Nobody loves starting into our computer screens as much as we all have to these days. But we all love what a live event does so well: produce those spontaneous interactions that will change the way you think about or run your business (plus who doesn’t like a good cocktail party!). Arival is using this opportunity intelligently: the cost is a mere fraction of what it would’ve been, it’s twice as long, and there’s an entire day is devoted to nothing but networking. So you’ll gain more networking time, way more educational sessions, and they’ve partnered with great people like Atlas Obscura(opens in a new tab) and Withlocals(opens in a new tab) to provide fun events like a weird travel trivia evening and a virtual pub crawl.

TripSchool has its own full day at the conference, what motivated you to get involved with Arival 360?

Mitch: TripSchool’s first attendance at Arival was just last year (2019) in Orlando, and we were blown away. We made so many valuable new connections, and heard from so many different kinds of small to very large tour operators, that we were sold instantly on the Arival’s value and importance as the global “campfire” for our industry!

We got involved this year because since we are a training company for both tour guides and tour operators, we wanted to bring some of what we’re passionate about to the event: creativity when it comes to guest experience, tour design, and share some of our passion for exceptional storytelling, creative “wow” moments, and other skills that are so important to a successful tour. And we wanted to create a part of the conference where we could welcome tour guides to learn and participate, too. The guide makes or breaks the tour, and we think their voice is an important part of any industry discussions!

What should attendees expect, and what do they stand to learn from your day at Arival 360?

Mitch: It’s the fullest day of the conference! We’re calling it a Boot Camp(opens in a new tab), because it’s really meant to be participatory. It’s a chance to get practical and bring together an amazing community of experts and fellow tour operators to discuss common struggles, of course, but also get inspired with new ideas for transforming your tours, and expanding your business.

These are tough times for all of us, and so our day is meant to be a jolt of creativity, positivity, and excitement, reminding us of the core of what we all love to do: connect with people, getting them to love the places we show them, and come away transformed and enriched. We have over 35 people on our day alone talking about pivots and ideas they’ve had to refresh and reinvent their businesses. It’s also a day for guides and operators to come together as part of one global discussion, and learn together!

In these unprecedented times tell us about your hopes for TripSchool and the tourism industry moving forward?

Mitch: 2019 was the climax of decades of absolutely unbelievable growth in the worldwide travel industry. I mean, from 2000 to 2019 the world saw an increase of nearly a billion more travelers! That’s crazy growth, but it started to cause major problems. I live in New York City, which was the most visited city on earth, and overtourism was causing problems, just like in Venice or Dubrovnik. Too many people going to the same places. And then Covid-19 struck, and this growth just fell off a cliff.

During this giant global pause, my hope is that we’re all taking a moment and assessing what it was we were doing that was harmful to cities and the environment, and how we can act better moving forward. For example, emerging technologies and marketplaces over the past few years now allow travelers to easily access experiences that take them beyond major sights and destinations, stimulating economic growth in new communities, and transforming where tourists are willing to go.

There are no easy answers, but my goal and hope as the head of a company that trains tour guides and consults with businesses, is to promote awareness of responsible tourism, and how all of us can play a part in changing things for the better. For example, we partnered with a 501(c)(3) non-profit for a program we call The Diversity Project(opens in a new tab), promoting guide education of the lesser-known stories that are often not told about a place; and we’re training guides from new communities around the world, and helping tour operators design more inclusive itineraries that take guests to new neighborhoods.

When and How to Register

Arival 360 starts October 22nd with a kickoff group trivia event hosted by Atlas Obscura! Then the conference starts October 26. November 5th is TripSchool’s Tour Operator & Guide Boot Camp(opens in a new tab), with 35+ small group sessions focused on all aspects of operating a business and being a tour guide! Be sure to use coupon code PTTS36020 for 75% off.

Check out TripSchool(opens in a new tab) to learn more about the resources they offer for tour operators and guides, whether you’re a new business or an existing one!

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