Travel Tech Essentialist #2: The Lines are Blurring



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Travel Tech Essentialist

June 9 · Issue #2 · View online

Every two weeks, ten insights that explore travel’s new frontiers.

Search vs compare vs book. OTA vs supplier direct vs metasearch. Private vs traditional accommodations. Transactions vs experiences. Desktop vs mobile. The lines that used to clearly separate all these components are all blurring.

1. Going the extra mile will be the new normal
In Welcome to a new era for online travel, Jeff Katz (Orbitz founder) writes about how we are moving from the Transaction Era to the Experience Era, addressing customers’ need for a painless and seamless travel experience that simply works. When a thunderstorm cancels a flight, customers will expect automatic re-booking, alternative accommodations and pre-scheduled ground transportation.
2. Google Trips, R.I.P
The app was launched in 2016 and will be shut down on August 6th. Most of the features are being migrated to web-based Google Travel as well as Google Search and Google Maps.
3. Airbnb > Hilton
Airbnb’s annual sales in 2018 surpassed Hilton’s and most hotel brands’, according to a Second Measure report based on data from US travelers excluding business spending. In 2018, 12% of major hotel customers also made a booking with Airbnb, up from 1% in 2013. And while Airbnb has tripled its sales in the past 3 years, hotel chains collective sales grew just 11%. Annual sales at Airbnb increased 12X from 2013 to 2018.
4. Two recent megarounds
  • Mafengwo, which claims to be the largest travel community in China, raised a $250 million Series E led by Tencent Holdings, which brings the company’s total raised to over $500 million.
  • GetYourGuide raised $484 million in a round led by the Softbank Vision Fund, raising total raised to over $650 million. The 10 year old tours and activity also hired Instagram’s former Head of Product as its first Chief Product Officer.
5. Airlines aiming high
  • AirAsia, Asia’s largest low cost carrier, is talking to partners to build an e-commerce platform which they expect will overtake its airline business and earn 20 times more than the $240 million annual revenue selling tickets online.
  • Worldwide by Easyjet is a service launched a couple of years ago that allows passengers to use the Easyjet website to book connections from 11 European airports onto long-haul flights with a dozen member airlines including Norwegian, Emirates and Cathay Pacific.
6. Czech OTA sold to General Atlantic
The US private-equity firm invested an estimated $125 million in the flight specialist OTA and becomes its majority shareholder. Kiwi was launched in 2012 and had previously taken only about $1.7 million in equity investment. Kiwi had $1 billion in gross bookings in 2018. General Atlantic previous investments include Airbnb, Priceline, Despegar, Mafengwo, and Uber.
7. Amadeus invests and partners with startup Volantio
The partnership will give hundreds of airlines access to the Atlanta startup’s platform that helps airlines improve operational performance and optimize capacity by automating passenger reaccommodation in oversell, downgauge, and irregular operation situations. Its previous round was a $2.6 million Series B in 2018 participated by IAG, JetBlue, and Qantas. Current clients (Qantas, Iberia, Alaska, Volaris, IndiGo..) have seen 3-5X ROIs.
8. India’s OYO Hotels & Homes grows beyond Asia
OYO expanded its presence in London by a third over the past month. Founded in 2013 by 25-year-old Ritesh Agarwal, OYO has become the fastest growing and 6th largest hotel chain in the world. It has raised $1.5 billion from Softbank, Airbnb, Sequoia and Lightspeed, and plans to invest £40 million in the UK in 2019 with a goal to reach 1,000 rooms in London by July.
9. Three promising startups
  • Shep helps companies manage their employees’ business travel bookings made on consumer sites without forcing them to use a specific corporate booking platform. Because not all business travel is booked where it should be. Based in Austin, Texas.
  • Assaia is a Swiss startup that uses airport ramp and aerobridge footage to better manage aircraft turnarounds and airport operations. 
  • Hoopo enables GPS-less geolocation solutions for tracking and monitoring of assets within locations of interest such as airports. Founded in Israel by a team of geolocation experts in radio frequency communications.
10. Digital travellers can’t stand still
  • The average hotel purchase lasts 36 days, hits 45 touch points, involves multiple devices and is distributed among search engines, OTAs and suppliers.
  • 31% of hotel searches purchases started on search engines in 2018, up from 23% in 2017. 
  • Travel shopping journeys that started with search led to purchases more quickly than those that started on OTAs. Puzzling…
Source: McKinsey&Company, Verto analytics US clickstream panel data
Source: McKinsey&Company, Verto analytics US clickstream panel data
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