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Travel Tech Essentialist #3: Accelerating the Future

Lots of news on innovation on this issue. It's all about making the customer journey faster, seamles

Travel Tech Essentialist

June 23 · Issue #3 · 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.

Lots of news on innovation on this issue. It’s all about making the customer journey faster, seamless, and leaving them wanting more.

1. Customer centric innovation
BCG looks at the state of innovation in travel and concludes that travel companies that fail to innovate will be reduced to commodity providers of hotel rooms and airplane seats while big technology companies own the customer relationship.
2. AI to the rescue: from car to bar in 10 minutes
Speaking of customer-centric innovation…Royal Caribbean Cruises uses facial recognition technology on computer vision-equipped cameras built into the terminals  to recognize travelers as they board with the goal of getting customers “from car to bar in less than 10 minutes”, vs the 60-90 minutes that it traditionally takes to go through the boarding process.
3. Driverless cars are going to disrupt the airline industry
Traveller behaviors will change as autonomous vehicles become more common and more capable. A study by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University concludes that at least 10% of the flying public will switch to driverless vehicles once they realize the advantages that driverless cars offer over commercial flights.
4. Electric planes and flying taxis are getting closer
Companies from all over the world are immersed in a race to launch the first electric commercial planes and the first on-demand electric vertical takeoff and landing flying taxi services. Fascinating competition and collaboration among giants (Siemens, Rolls Royce, Boeing, Airbus), upstarts (Lilium, Zunum Aero, Wright Electric, Eviation, Liaoning Ruixiang) and operators (JetBlue, Easyjet, Jetsuite) is shaping the future of aviation.
5. French car-sharing unicorn BlaBlaCar launches BlaBlaBus
The BlaBlaBus network competes in the long distance bus market with prices as low as 99 cents a trip. BlaBlaBus will open this year more than 70 routes throughout Europe, covering 400 different destinations in 10 European countries. With a platform that integrates buses and car-pooling, BlaBlaCar becomes a powerful aggregator in the area of mobility.
6. A few Low Cost Carriers are trying out subscription models 
According to McKinsey, the subscription e-commerce market has grown by more than 100% annually over the past 5 years. The travel sector has been slow to adopt the model, but these airlines are testing the model:
  • Mexico’s Volaris launched v.pass in 2018. At $30 / month, subscribers are entitled to a roundtrip flight each month.
  • Australia’s Jetstart. At $34 / year, Club Jetstar gives subscribers access to member only fares and 20% off bags and seat selection. 
  • Hungary’s Wizz Air. At €29.99 / year Wizz Discount Club offers members-only deals, €10 minimum discount on tickets and €5 minimum discount on checked bags.
  • USA’s Frontier Airlines. At $59.99 / year Discount Den offers members-only deals and free flights for kids under 15 (1 kid per adult). 
  • United Airlines. For $599 / year, you can enjoy an Economy Plus seat when travelling on United.
7. Eight short-term rental myths vs reality
Transparent is a Spain-based data intelligence and research company for the alternative accommodation market. Take a look at their data-backed insights that shed some light to some commonly held misconceptions around the short term rental market. 
8. Airbnb eliminates guest fees
In a move to better compete against Booking, Airbnb moved to eliminate most guest fees as of June. Property managers and hotels in Asia Pacific and EMEA will be charged a 14% host-only fee by default. Until now, the default was that Airbnb charged hosts a 3% to 5% fixed fee, and guests paid a fee of up to 20%.
9. Corporate travelers are reluctant to use company booking tools  
A large and growing majority of companies have shifted to online corporate booking tools in recent years, but getting employees to use them remains a challenge. In One Size Does Not Fit All, the Association of Corporate Travel Executives and American Express helps explain some of the reasons why.
10. Three promising startups
  • Nethone is a Poland-based data science company specialised in AI-driven business intelligence and fraud prevention. This case study shows how they helped a large airline in Latin America reduce chargebacks by 80%, reduce manual reviews by 44% and increase revenue by $1.2 million.
  • Miles, based in Silicon Valley, is a frequent traveller loyalty program across all types of transportation, including walking.
  • Skylights is a French startup that provides inflight VR entertainment. It has deployed its VR solution on thousands of flights and in lounges around the world, where passengers can escape and enjoy the movie theater experience with lightweight VR eyewear.
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