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Travel Tech Essentialist #5: Everything Under the Sun

From fast food popup hotels to bespoke properties set in soulful neighborhoods ripe for exploration.

Travel Tech Essentialist

July 20 · Issue #5 · 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.

From fast food popup hotels to bespoke properties set in soulful neighborhoods ripe for exploration. From a handful of rooms to almost 1 million. From leisure to corporate. From gridlock traffic to the sky. From puppies to unicorns. Quite a range of products and services in this issue, but they all share a careful intention to make a functional and emotional connection with their target clients.

1. Fuel 2019 Leisure Travel Trends report
Some of the insights revealed on this report:
  • 87% of all travelers visit the hotel’s website prior to making a booking. This highlights a big upside for hotels to capture more direct bookings.
  • 44% of travellers begin their hotel research on Google, 18% on OTAs and 10% on the hotel’s own website.
  • Travellers look at multiple websites when choosing a hotel. 24% used, 22% Expedia, 20%, 10% Airbnb.
2. It’s getting hard to keep up with Oyo
The fast-growing Indian budget hotel startup was founded in 2013 by 19 year old Ritesh Agarwal. 6 years, $1bn in funding, and 850.000 rooms later, Oyo announced that it has overtaken IHG as the world’s 3rd largest chain. Oyo also just announced that it’s entering the coworking business with the launch of Oyo Workspaces and the $30 million acquisition of Innov8, a 4 year old coworking startup. Oyo could be preparing for an IPO in the next 2-3 years at a possible valuation of up to $18 billion.
3. Business travel steps into New Distribution Capability
Two well funded corporate travel startups announced direct airline connections using NDC technology. Barcelona-based travel TravelPerk and Californian TripActions are now offering direct booking with Lufthansa and United respectively, giving travelers access to cheaper tickets, personalized package deals, seat selection, etc…
4. Indian online travel agency Yatra sold for $338 Million
The acquisition by Atlanta-based software and e-commerce firm Ebix is expected to close in Q4 2019. The combined Ebix-Yatra company will have more than 11,000 employees worldwide and travel business across the Middle East and Asia Pacific, with plans to expand to North America, Latin America and Europe.
5. Calling all travel startups: pilot your technology at IAG scale
August 2 is the deadline to apply to the Hangar 51 accelerator program. Selected startups participate over a 10 week program (from Sept 30 to Dec 6 2019) in Madrid or Barcelona working alongside with Iberia, Vueling and other IAG brands to run joint proofs of concept.
6. Yo quiero Taco Bell hotel?
Actually, a lot of people did. The Pop-Up Taco Bell hotel sold out its 70 rooms in 2 minutes. The resort located in Palm Springs, California, has been called “The Bell: A Taco Bell Hotel and Resort”. It will open on August 9th and will close 5 days later. Here’s a sneak peek of what’s to come.
7. Customer empathy and other less-obvious travel trends
Tedd Evers, founder and CEO of TripTuner, sat with Google and executives to chat about how each stage of the traditional travel booking process might change in the next 5 years. Here’s his recap of the session.
8. Fundraising
  • Sonder is claiming unicorn status after closing a Series D round of $210M, reaching $400M in total funding. Sonder manages short-term rentals with hotel-like amenities. It has 8,500 spaces in 26 cities in 6 countries. By the end of 2019, it projects $400M in revenue (vs $100M in 2018).
  • Startup lifestyle and high tech hotel brand Life House has announced a $100 million funding round. Life House launched in 2017 and proposes a curated collection of locally rooted hotels. It currently operates two hotels in Miami and aims to have 10 hotels opened by the end of 2019.
  • Cloud-based corporate travel booking startup TravelPerk raised an extra $60M, an extension to the $44 million Series C closed last year. More than 2000 companies use TravelPerk to book trips. Since the start of 2019, active users and bookings have grown by 150% and 300% respectively.
9. Three promising startups
  • Avian is an Israeli online platform that connects travel agencies and airlines to track sales targets and incentive plans in order to optimize profit margins and sales. It just closed $2M in pre-seed funding.
  • Houston-based Spruce brings hotel-inspired services to apartment residents, including housekeeping, pet care, daily chores, laundry and dry cleaning. It closed $3M in funding this week.
  • Singapore-based Travelstop is an AI-powered business travel and expense management platform for corporates in Asia. This week it raised $3M in pre-Series A funding by Accel Partners. Founded in 2016 by ex-Yahoo execs who sold their previous startup to HomeAway.
10. Uber expands upward with Uber Copter
On July 9th, Uber launched its Uber Copter service offering rides from New York City to JFK airport. A helicopter ride from Balthazar restaurant to the airport costs $216.

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