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.
Please see below Issue #10 of the Travel Tech Essentialist newsletter. If you are interested in receiving future issues of Travel Tech Essentialist, you can sign up here. Thank you!
Disruption in transportation is not limited to the promise of electric-powered flying taxis. The less glamorous bus is catching the attention of important mobility players as a key component of a fully integrated multimodal travel experience. Other news in this issue reflect the continued investor and consumer interest in the alternative accommodations sector.
1. Volaris wants to get people off the buses
Low cost Volaris is Mexico’s leading domestic airline. A central tenet of its domestic strategy is switching bus passengers to air travel. In 2019, Volaris expects 1.1 million passengers will take Volaris’ flights for the first time. With a bus market in Mexico of more than 3 billion passengers, Volaris intends to take a share of those customers, and gradually bring them online.
2. BlaBlaCar buys bus ticketing platform to expand multimodal service
BlaBlaCar will acquire Busfor, the leading bus ticketing platform in Russia (BlaBlaCar’s top market by number of rides). In 2018 it acquired Ouibus and the renamed BlaBlaBus is now operating in 5 European countries. BlaBlaCar wants to use buses for trips between main cities, and carpooling rides between smaller cities. BlaBlaCar CEO: “By growing a multimodal offer and by accelerating the travel booking transition from offline to online, we can improve long-distance mobility across the region.”
3. Kiwi.com offers in-airport virtual interlining transfer service
As a part of the Kiwi.com’s Hosted Stopover Program, the Budapest airport has introduced self-transfer counters to help passengers holding two separate tickets (combined through Kiwi’s Virtual Interlining) with any assistance related to their connection. More airports are expected to follow. Kiwi.com has also expanded its flight search to include trains and buses. Kiwi.com CEO: “We’re getting closer to our goal of becoming the ultimate booking tool for travel between any point A and any point B.”
4. Electric Aircraft: flightpath of the future of air travel
A comprehensive report by Citigroup on the future of electric aircraft. It forecasts an addressable market value of over $17 billion. But the revenue opportunity isn’t something way out in the future. Electric aircraft for pilot training exists today, general aviation is expected to launch in 2022, air taxis in 2025, and regional aircraft in 2030. There are currently around 170 electrically-propelled aircraft projects under development around the world.
5. JetBlue Technology Ventures is looking to invest in European travel startups
In the last 3 years, Silicon Valley-based JetBlue Technology Ventures has made 24 investments and 8 proof of concepts in the US. It is now looking for promising European startups . JTV Managing Director: “We are really thinking about the entire travel ecosystem. It may not be travel technology at all, but it might have use cases in travel”. JetBlue will launch its transatlantic services to London in 2021.
6. Alternative accommodations are growing twice as fast as hotels in Europe
Alternative accommodations have long been prominent in Europe. Skift forecasts revenues in the European alternative accommodations sector at almost €30 billion by 2020. The sector grew an estimated 8.2% in 2018 (vs 3.5% hotels) and is expected to grow by 5.2% in 2019 (vs. 2.8% hotels) and hold an 11% share of the accommodations sector.
7. Google’s Room Booking Module
Google’s RBM is an extra section that Google has added below the hotel prices shown for specific dates which includes photos and features for all the different room types. Unlike standard Google Hotel Ads results, users that click on the RBM are redirected to the Book on Google process. This analysis by Mirai goes into the reasons why RBM can increase the share of hotel direct bookings.
💰Chengjia raised $300 million in a Series A round. The Chinese company manages 100 properties with 20,000 apartment units and offers hotel-style, short-term rentals, hotels, and related hospitality services.
💰Volocopter, one of the pioneers of electric air taxis, raised $55 million of funding, led by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, a Chinese automaker that owns the Volvo brand. The VoloCity air taxi aspires to launch commercially in Europe by 2023.
💰AvantStay, a specialist in short-term rentals for groups, closed $20M in funding. AvantStay leases properties, boutique hotels and commercial spaces in the US and converts them into short-term rentals.
9. Promising startups
→ Santa Monica-based Landline is a bus company that functions like a regional airline, with the the bus ticket becoming part of the overall ticket price for the flight, much like a connecting leg of a trip. It seeks to redefine the regional transportation model, by providing a convenient and affordable ground transportation option to connect with flights out of hub airports. Starting in November, Landline bus routes will operate in conjunction with Sun Country Airlines, its first airline partner.
→ Kombo, originally called SoBus, is a Paris-based bus ticket booking engine that covers all bus routes in Europe. It is now developing a new version of the booking engine incorporating trains and carpooling.
10. The Death of an Icon: Thomas Cook RIP
The world’s first tour operator that brought travel to the mass market. As a company, it was a social leveler. It brought the experience of travel, that was only available to the very wealthy, to a far greater audience. The Arbuturian.
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