Travel Tech Essentialist #15: Reinvention

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 #15 of the Travel Tech Essentialist newsletter sent to my newsletter subscribers on November 30th 2019. If you are interested in receiving future issues in your inbox, you can sign up here. Thank you!

A Harvard Business Review article suggests that the greatest challenge to companies today is not keeping up with their competitors, but with customers.

Think for a moment about people as tiny enterprises. They’ve redesigned their core processes in the area of procurement (online shopping), talent acquisition (marketplaces), collaboration (social networking), market research (peer reviews), finance (mobile payments) and travel (room and ride sharing). Have you reinvented your core processes to the same degree? — HBR

Travel suppliers, intermediaries and startups of all sizes are rising up to the challenge.

1. The Connected Trip is the next objective for the world’s leading OTAs

The Connected Trip is beginning to draw real investment and attention from Booking, Expedia and other OTAs, as they attempt to increase their position of travel aggregators and gain a greater share of travelers’ wallets.

2. OTAs and Google — Blaming Google will not lead to disruptive innovation

Online Travel Agencies’ complaints about Google are sounding very similar to the complaints that travel suppliers (hotels and airlines) have expressed towards OTAs in the past. My recent post on this topic.

3. eDreams announces encouraging results from its eDreams Prime subscription program

The largest online flight retailer in Europe has grown its subscription program to 450.000 members, generating 26% of bookings in Italy and 22% in France. eDreams Prime members are buying 2.6x more and are up to 4.4x more profitable than non-Prime members. Hopefully this will soon translate into higher rates of growth and profitability than what the company has had in the last few years. More data in their Investor Day presentation.

4. wins People’s Choice award at Phocuswright for its Virtual Global Supercarrier concept

By combining all modes of transportation — flights, trains, buses, ride-hailing services or city micro-mobility — into a single platform global travel network, looks to solve the job of getting customers from any point A to any point B in the world. And hopefully get these customers to bypass Google and go direct to to search and book their travel. Read more.

5. Uber’s data scientists are simulating air mobility systems ahead of Uber Air’s launch in 2023

Uber has said it will roll out the service in Dallas, Los Angeles, and Melbourne, but it seems like other cities such as London, Paris, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, San Francisco, New York and a few others might be in the plans as well. This article looks at how Uber data scientists are approaching 3 questions ahead of the launch: 1) Which cities need airborne mobility? 2) Where should skyports be located? 3) What should the vehicles look like?

6. On The Beach results hit by Thomas Cook

On the Beach full year 2019 results that ended September 30th posted a 26% drop in profit before tax. The collapse of Thomas Cook in September resulted in a £7.1 million revenue loss for OTB due to refunds, costs associated with helping customers organize alternative travel arrangements and lost margin on canceled bookings. In spite of these difficulties, OTB CEO sees the collapse of Thomas Cook as an “unprecedented opportunity in the medium term to gain share”. Read more.

7. Selina Hotels compete with WeWork in Latin America

Co-working has been a core element of Selina’s ecosystem for digital nomads. Selina says that 40 of its 48 properties in Latin America contain co-working spaces. It competes with WeWork and other companies to attract not just digital nomads, but local companies and entrepreneurs who find value in networking with a mix of travelers. Selina tries to create a sense of community organically by hosting events for travelers and locals.

8. Oyo’s latest filing discloses widening losses

Oyo’s losses have been accelerating, according to the filings related to Oyo’s $1.5 billion in series F funding led by SoftBank Group. For the three months through June 2019, Oyo’s net loss before tax was $181 million, which was 54% of its $332 million net loss for the full year through March 30. Operations in China account for approximately 40% of its losses worldwide. Oyo expects to make a profit in its India and China operations starting around 2022.

9. Funding 💰

  • Australia-based Jayride has raised $3.5 million to further develop its global airport transfer marketplace.
  • Paris-based reportedly set the record for the largest seed round in the history of travel technology with $14 million in funding to develop its mobile app that rewards members in cash or travel credit for renting out their homes while away on a trip.

10. Promising startups

  • Congrats to Setoo (a startup I have featured in this newsletter) for being the runner-up of the Award For Travel Innovation at Phocuswright Conference 2019. Setoo’s fully automated SaaS platform enables e-businesses to build precise and tailor-made protection products that deliver exceptional customer experience and generate new revenue streams.
  • Exosonic is building a quiet, Mach 1.8 60-seater supersonic passenger aircraft that can fly supersonically overland and overwater with a muted sonic boom. It will sell this aircraft to airlines so they can cut long-haul flight times in half at prices comparable to today’s business class tickets. Exosonic was the winner of the Award For Innovation at The Phocuswright Conference 2019.

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