Travel Tech Essentialist #115: Boarding Group 1
Thanks to all of you who shared your input for the Generative AI impact survey (results in #1), and congrats to the winners of the inaugural edition of Travel Tech Titans (#4). To all boarding optimization fans, make sure to watch the video in #9 :-)
This newsletter is sponsored by Equeco
Equeco is the leading Performance Marketing Solution for the Hospitality industry with over US $50M ad spend under management.
500 hotels and some of the largest OTAs worldwide leverage Equeco to manage their online ads campaigns and improve performance across Paid Search, Social, and Display.
Claim your free diagnostic and proof-of concept today and meet the team at PhocusWright Europe.
0. The most clicked link in the previous newsletter
The most clicked link in Travel Tech Essentialist #114 was this post by Scott Belsky on the personalization wave and how AI will allow for better matches, not only better searches.
1. Survey Results - Impact of Generative AI on the travel industry
Thanks to those of you who participated in the survey on the impact of Generative AI on the travel industry. The results revealed interesting insights into the players, sector sub-categories, and organizational functions poised for significant impacts. See the results report here. Some highlights:
Airbnb was selected by 59% of respondents as the travel player that will most benefit from this technology in the next two years. Google (54%) and Microsoft (37%) were also popular choices.
On the travel players that have the most to lose, the three most selected choices were Tripadvisor (44%), Expedia (44%) and Booking.com (42%).
Generative AI's impact on improving efficiency and the customer experience in 10 travel subcategories ranked Travel Planning and Tours & Activities highest (on a scale of 1 to 5).
Customer Service, Marketing and Engineering are the three organizational functions that will need to learn and adapt to the new world of generative AI in the next 12 months.
Take a look at the results report
2. The hottest new programming language is English
JoseLuis Vilar, Caravelo cofounder and CTO, shared on LinkedIn interesting thoughts on how the future of programming is evolving towards a much more accessible interface - Natural Language Processing, or more specifically, prompt engineering. He states: “No longer are the days of getting lost in the syntax labyrinth of traditional programming languages. The age of communicating with computers and machines using the language we all speak and understand, English, is upon us… this shift will democratize programming, make it less intimidating and more accessible to individuals from all walks of life.”
So, if that holds true, the world has just gained 1500 million new potential software developers. The future is bright.
3. Traveling and exploring the entire world in 3D by paper airplane
Nils Bakker, a 3D Technical Artist, used Unreal Engine 5 (a multi-tool development environment for games and other 3D content) with Google’s Photorealistic 3D Tiles (map tiles that contain Google's 3D geodata) and ChatGPT to create a prototype of controlling a paper airplane that can transport us to any place on Earth. Pretty amazing stuff. Go here for a deeper dive into the technical details or see the video below of the paper airplane traveling the world on-demand.
4. Travel Tech Titans winners
The winners of the inaugural edition of Travel Tech Titans were revealed today. Thank you to F-Prime Capital and Eight Roads for having me as one of the judges. We sifted through 200 nominated companies — representing $6.9B in funding, 21 countries, and more than 12,000 employees — to select the 18 winning startups distributed evenly across three categories:
Early Stage winners ($0 - $10 million in funding)
- BTP Automation
- Deal Engine
- Thrust Carbon
Mid Stage winners ($10-$50 million in funding)
- Canary Technologies
- Sensible Weather
Late Stage winners ($50 million + in funding)
- OTA Insight
Go to TravelTechTitans.com for more information
5. Markups (or a lack thereof) can be an early predictor of the outcome of a startup investment, but…
The Head of Data Science at AngelList published an article showing that 18 months after closing, a Series A investment that hasn’t been marked up yet (i.e., raise a subsequent priced round at a valuation increase or exit at a gain) is more likely never to be marked up than to be marked up. Seed investments cross this threshold even faster—at just 12 months.
But as Alex Macdonald notes, the problem with this type of data is that venture isn't a game of averages; it's a game of outliers. Microsoft, Apple, and Roblox are three examples of companies that did not raise follow-on rounds within 18 months. As Alex points out, founders who believe they can beat the statistics are the ones who will.
6. Travel Industry Trends 2023
The Mastercard Economics Institute's fourth-annual travel report, Travel Industry Trends 2023, explores today's traveler, the impact of mainland China's reopening on global tourism, new and consistent travel destinations, the pace of business travel recovery and how travelers are spending. Key takeaways:
Global leisure travel is up roughly 31% in March 2023 compared to the same period in 2019, representing a 25% year-over-year-to-date change from 2022 to 2023.
Business travel is now growing at the same rate than leisure travel, up 33% from the same month in 2019 by the end of March 2023, a 42% year-over-year-to-date change from 2022 to 2023.
Outbound tourism expenditures from mainland China are getting closer to pre-pandemic levels. By March 2023, Chinese spending on experiences abroad surged from virtually zero last year to now just below where it was in 2019.
Travelers’ spending on experiences (restaurants, amusement parks, nightclubs, bars…) is up 65%, while spending on "things" (stores, apparel, cosmetics, jewelry, etc...) is up 12%, compared to 2019 as of March 2023.
Hotspot predictions for summer by region of origin
7. AI eclipsing Crypto
Google searches for “AI” are more than twice what it was for “Crypto” at its highest point.
8. What happens to profitable companies when VC funding runs out?
Oz Har Adir, founder & CEO of Vio.com, wrote a post to answer this question. The short answer is… not much. The longer and more nuanced answer includes:
No party, no after-party hangover
Recruitment is much easier
The same challenges as always: execution, strategy, customer needs answered, new markets expansion, culture, and morale
To those who are looking into joining a startup today, Oz also proposes three questions to ask and what the possible answers might mean.
9. Boarding Group 1
So, you’re boarding group 1. All good, right? This is one of my all-time favorite skits 😂
10. Fundraising, M&A, Partnerships
Kindred, a home-swapping network, raised $15 million.
Thynk, an enterprise software solution for hotels, raised $13 million.
Travel insurance startup Faye raised $10 million just a year after launching its product in the US, bringing the company’s total funding to $18 million.
Swiss startup Viatu which specializes in multi-day sustainable adventures closed a $1 million round.
Expedia Group closed an API partnership with Wheel the World.
Hyatt acquired Mr & Mrs Smith hotels for further expansion into the luxury market. Read +.
Wizz Air partnered with Caravelo to launch Europe’s first flight subscription service. Read +.
Travel Investor Network
Travel Investor Network is a private platform for investors (VCs, Corporates, Family Offices, Angels) and innovators in travel, hospitality, and mobility.
→ If you are a startup looking to raise a round (from pre-seed to Series D), maybe I can help (for free). Please start by completing this form.
→ If you are an investor interested in joining the Travel Investor Network, please complete this form.
The Travel Tech Essentialist talent network has companies across the travel tech landscape that are currently hiring.
→If you’re a candidate looking for new opportunities, apply here to join at no cost to you and get introduced to hiring companies.
→If you’re a company looking to hire, request access to meet world-class candidates open to new opportunities. I send out a new drop every two weeks.
If you like Travel Tech Essentialist, please consider sharing it with your friends or colleagues and hitting the heart button up top (it helps more readers discover it):
If you’re not yet subscribed, you can do so here:
Thanks for trusting me with your inbox,