Travel Tech Essentialist #111: The Future of Now
There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen--Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.
The last time I thought about this quote was at the start of the Covid pandemic, and now ChatGPT has brought it back. The difference is that while Covid could be seen more as a finite event, ChatGPT seems to mark the start of a transformational moment in history that will drastically change many of our assumptions and turn the status quo on its head. For sure, a fascinating and uncertain time to be alive.
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0. The most clicked link in the previous newsletter
I thought it might be interesting to share what the most clicked link was in the previous newsletter just to see where the general interest lies. The most clicked link in Travel Tech Essentialist #110 was the demo of Expedia’s ChatGPT plug-in.
1. Travel in 2070
easyJet 2070: The Future of Travel is a report commissioned by easyJet to forecast innovations in airport journeys, air travel, accommodation, and holiday experiences in 50 years. 3D-printed buffet food, biomimetic seats, heartbeat passports, time-traveling holiday experiences, underwater seafaris and underground hotels are just a few of the predictions you’ll read about in the report.
2. Expedia is moving fast
A couple of weeks ago, Expedia launched a plugin for ChatGPT allowing consumers to use Expedia as they interacted with the language model. Now it’s bringing the capabilities into its own app. Expedia launched its ChatGPT-powered conversational trip-planning experience, which you can now see on the iOS app’s home page. You can ask for recommendations in categories such as destinations, flights or hotels and book directly from some of the recommendations. The products suggested getting automatically saved into your trip section of the app.
3. ChatGPT will permanently disrupt the travel UI
Terrell Jones (founder of Travelocity and founding Chairman of Kayak.com) predicts big changes are coming in the travel booking UI. He is confident that ChatGPT will radically improve sales conversion and customer satisfaction if implemented correctly. And it will also leave many competitors behind: “If your business doesn’t have learning AI systems, your competitors will get a Ph.D. and you’ll stay in kindergarten.” In an exchange on LinkedIn with Christian Watts (Magpie Travel founder), Terrell Jones disclosed that he’s working (stealth) with a startup that is just about ready to launch and disrupt the travel UI...stay tuned. Read +
4. Stated vs Revealed preferences
It’s always great to listen to our customers, but it’s better to look at what they do than just listen to what they say.
Sari Azout from the startupy newsletter revisits the tweet below from the founder of Shopify and raises the differences between stated and revealed preferences. As Sari states: we say we don’t like being tracked, but we prefer personalized ads to ads that aren’t personalized. We say we don’t want an algorithm determining our media diet, but we prefer a For You vs. a Following feed. We say we want to buy sustainable products, but we often buy the cheaper, less sustainable options.
When we state a preference that we believe casts us in a more positive light, the difference between both preferences is deliberately misleading. But sometimes, stated preferences are inaccurate because we often have a very poor understanding of what we really value and how we make decisions. This is particularly true when it comes to pricing. Charm pricing (ending prices with the number nine) or anchor pricing (a high-priced item is displayed alongside a lower-priced item) work despite many people claiming that they are unaffected by these tactics.
5. Without training, everyone uses AI wrong
Ethan Mollick is an entrepreneurship and innovation professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. His focus is on how we can better learn and teach. He has fully embraced AI for his classes, requiring students to use AI tools in a number of ways. In one of his assignments, he required students to use multiple prompts, which forced them to consider how to improve their output. Students went in one of three directions:
Approach 1: Minor variations, letting the AI do the work
Approach 2: Adding restrictions and user knowledge
Approach 3: Co-editing. This approach led to the best essays by far. It also required a lot of careful focus on the AI output, which made it very the most useful for student learning.
His post shows examples of the different approaches and prompts. He draws important learnings that are directly applicable to customer and product development. For example, giving ChatGPT personas (“You are an MBA student who has spent 4 years working in the military in logistics. You are an excellent writer and use clear examples. You do not repeat yourself”) to generate the most relevant output. Read + One Useful Thing.
6. A catchy, true, and useful 1-liner
In a recent podcast, Shaan Puuri shared this one-liner he heard from Emmett Shear (co-founder of Twitch): “Birds Fly, Fish Swim, and Deals Fall Through.”
Shaan notes that it’s a great one-liner because it’s catchy, it’s true, and it’s useful feedback: once you remember that the nature of deals is to fall through, your brain will not get emotionally attached to any one deal, it will find backups & alternatives, and it will help you bounce back when in fact, a deal does fall through.
7. The time for embedded travel insurance
Embedded insurance isn’t new, but awareness of its potential has grown in recent years. It’s all about getting the cover people want at a reasonable price, when they need it most and in a streamlined experience. When embedded is done right, the benefits to companies are high attach rates, increased conversion rates, and higher customer loyalty. Read more on this post by Meitav Harpaz, CEO and co-founder of Pattern Insurance.
8. Expanding our luck surface area
The luckiest expose themselves to more luck than the average human. They have a larger luck surface area. Sahil Bloom offers his favorite simple luck surface area expanding actions:
Send one cold email or DM per day. You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
Spend more time around optimists. Pessimists sound smart; optimists get lucky.
Write and share publicly; build and share publicly.
Build free time and boredom into your schedule. Free time is where your thoughts and ideas mingle.
9. Don’t count off humans just yet 😂
Travelport, a UK-based technology company focused on bookings for travel suppliers worldwide, received a $200 million investment.
Canadian Hotel Tech Operto raised $25 million in a Series-B round, and appointed Sam Shank (former HotelTonight Founder & CEO) to its Board of Directors.
Tel Aviv-based Fetcherr, which uses AI for airfare dynamic pricing, raised $12.5 million, bringing the company’s total raised to $31 million.
Madrid-based corporate meeting technology platform Troop Travel raised an $11 million round.
Israeli startup Reeco raised $10 million for its AI-based hospitality procurement marketplace.
Singapore-based Airline Tech Mystifly, closed an $8 million Pre Series B round
The Indonesian insurtech startup Qoala closed a Series B+ roundof $7.5 million.
Orlando-based corporate meetings and events startup AllFly closed a $2.4 million round.
Paris-based travel B2B2C insurtech Koala closed a €2 million round
Captain Experiences, an Austin-based platform for booking outdoor sports guides, announced a $2 million round.
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