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Travel Tech Essentialist #12: Partnerships

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“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” ~ African Proverb
 

Travel Tech Essentialist

October 26 · Issue #12 · View online
A short newsletter every two weeks with my pick of the top 10 Travel Tech stories and innovations shaping the world's largest and fastest growing industry.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” ~ African Proverb

1. OTAs need to reinvent themselves due to higher costs and new rivals
Online travel agencies are the original digital disruptors, bringing comparison shopping and price transparency to travelers who quickly embraced this new self-sufficient channel. OTAs’ biggest threat could now come from Google, the tech powerhouse that helped them become successful in the first place. Pressure from travel providers also adds to their challenges. This Oliver Wyman article lays out the options that OTA have in order to grow and better compete.
2. Airbnb listings making a debut in Google vacation rental search
Airbnb listings have started appearing in Google vacation rentals in several European cities, including Paris, Amsterdam, and Madrid.  Airbnb had been one of the few major vacation rental players to be absent from Google’s vacation rental pages, which launched in early 2019. Skift.
3. Airbnb is increasing its marketing spending
It is well known that Booking and Expedia spend around $5 billion each in marketing. The narrative is that Airbnb has a higher share of direct traffic and lesser reliance on high cost paid marketing. It might still be true, but some new data  shows that Airbnb’s marketing in Q1 2019 rose by 58% year-on-year to $367 million. Not an inconsequential amount. Skift.
4. Travellers expect a frictionless experience
Meeting these high standards is quite a challenge though. This article goes over various Facebook tools designed to help the travel industry move towards a zero‐friction future. It highlights successes by Jetblue, SNCF, KLM and MSC Cruises in getting customers discover new destinations, streamlining their booking experience, transforming customer service and using VR to test-drive experiences pre-booking.
5. Words of wisdom for travel startup founders seeking funding
Since its launch in 2016, JetBlue Technology Ventures has invested in 24 startups. In this post, JTV Managing Director Raj Singh writes about his insights and tips for early-stage travel founders seeking funding. In summary: do your homework, connect the dots, find the right timing, build relationships and understand the operator and the investor mindset.
6. Some airlines are starting to pay attention to economy class flyers
On Nov. 5th, Delta launches a significant upgrade to coach meal service on long haul flights: free welcome cocktails, hot towels, printed menus, place mats, a choice of appetizers, desert service and bigger portions. JetBlue has a new ad campaign bashing cheap airline service. JetBlue launched with a strategy of giving coach passengers better legroom, free in-flight television and better snacks. It now offers free high-speed Wi-Fi ahead of competitors. WSJ.
7. Booking.com enhances its flights offering across Europe
Booking.com has had a flight tab for a few years which linked to sister brand Kayak. In a partnership with eTraveli (a flight-specialist OTA based in Sweden), the new pilot provides a Booking.com branded flights service for customers across eight European countries using Booking.com sites and mobile apps. It’s not yet visible to 100% of the traffic. PhocusWire.
8. More product integrations
🔌 Despegar.com and Ctrip. The largest OTA in Latin America will integrate its direct accommodation inventory with the largest OTA in Asia’s platform, making it available across Ctrip’s brands.
🔌 Kayak and Wanderu. Boston-based Wanderu, which allows travelers to compare bus and train tickets across North America and Europe, will now incorporate Kayak-powered flights into its search engine. On Kayak, individual bus and train options will not appear alongside flight results.
9. Funding
💰Sabre buys Radixx for $110M. Radixx is an airline retailing vendor specializing in services for low-cost carriers. Its revenues for 2019 are forecasted at $20 million.
💰Booking Holdings invests $11.2 million in New Zealand-based corporate travel tech provider Serko resulting in a 4.7% stake. Serko is used by 6000 companies in Australia and New Zealand.
💰Blueground raises $50 Million for stays of 1 month or longer, bringing the total equity funding to $78 million. The NY-based startup has more than 2,800 apartments in residential buildings in 9 cities and aims to grow to 50,000 apartments worldwide by 2023.
10. Promising startups
⭐ Tokyo-based Bespoke provides AI powered chatbots and real-time customer engagement and measurement platform for the travel & hospitality industry. 
Routier is an Israeli startup that provides hotels with during-stay seamless engagement, operational, and marketing solutions on three levels (brand, property, and guest) so that they can improve brand reputation, optimize staff and property performance, and increase guest satisfaction.
⭐ Bulgarian startup Dronamics is developing a new type of cargo airplane able to transport 350 KG over 2,500 KM at half the cost. It flies autonomously, can be monitored and managed remotely via satellite, and costs less than a sports car.
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Mauricio
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