Travel Tech Essentialist #17: Delight

More, better and faster was the old paradigm of technological progress. At a time when choice is abundant, brands that succeed in creating delightful experiences will be the ones preferred by consumers. And brands that cut corners for short term benefit will gradually lose their most precious asset: consumer trust.

1. How ‘dark patterns’ influence travel bookings

Dark patterns are aesthetic or verbal nudges intended to guide customers toward making a specific decision or clicking on something. We’ve all seen prompts such as “38 people are looking at this flight”. Some researchers decided to look into these claims a bit more closely and discovered that there is a lot of fantasy behind these numbers. Read more.

2. promises to end manipulative sales practices in the EU

Speaking of dark patterns, the days of reading “Only 1 room like this left on our site” might be numbered in the EU. The European Commission stated that had committed to end “manipulative techniques” in the European Union from June 16 2020 onward, such as setting time-limits for making bookings and misrepresentation of discounts. Booking has always excelled in creating booking flows optimized for conversion. I am sure that they will continue to optimize for consumer trust as well. Read more.

3. Leading by design

User Friendly, by Cliff Kuang and Robert Fabricant, is a highly recommended book for anyone interested on how design is changing the way we live, work, and play. The book describes how today’s products are expected to deliver a delightful user experience and adapt to our needs in a polite and socially acceptable manner. Users are demanding that tech products and services not only work flawlessly and get the job done, but that they do so in a charming and thoughtful manner (unlike dark patterns that mislead consumers). Travel brands should be working towards building trust and creating an irresistible emotional connection with users. This book sets a great framework for it.

4. Domio secures massive funding to disrupt the market with curated spaces and delightful experiences

The New York-based hospitality startup announced a Series B round of $100 million (which was actually closed back in August) to expand its business in the US and globally to 25 markets by 2020, up from 12 today. Domio designs and rents out curated apart-hotels and other full-home experiences. It targets essentially the same demographics as Airbnb, but with a more predictable and consistent inventory. Domio’s CEO and cofounder wants “to become the most delightful hospitality brand in the world”.

5. Sun Country Airlines enters the cargo business with a major first customer: Amazon.

Sun Country is the US’ smallest airline operating big jets like Boeing 737s. The way that it’s able to compete in a business of scale is by prioritizing innovation. Read here on how Sun Country has struck an unlikely deal with Amazon to transport packages, for whom it will operate 10 Boeing cargo jets to support Amazon’s domestic air freight operations and its next-day shipping efforts. The airline has also experimented with bus service, working with a startup called Landline to bring passengers from smaller cities to the Minneapolis airport from where it operates.

6. Oyo might be planning to lay off 2,000 employees next month

According to reports, Oyo is planning to layoff 2,000 employees by the end of January to save on manpower costs and make some of its processes “more tech enabled”. Oyo is also facing a variety of other problems with hotel owners worldwide (complaining that they are not being paid), with authorities (a commercial agreement with MakeMyTrip is being investigated by the Competition Commission of India), and with distribution partners (Yahoo Japan ended its partnership due to rising complains from hotel owners). Read more.

7. Smart airports are coming

We’re on the cusp of a new era in the airport passenger experience. Here are 10 predictions on how airports will become highly connected and deliver frictionless and personalized experiences to travelers. I can’t wait to see some of these predictions come to fruition. Read more.

8. Carlyle Group invests in business travel

Private equity firm Carlyle Group and a consortium of investors will buy a stake in American Express Global Business Travel in a deal that values the company at $5 billion. American Express retains a 50% stake in the joint venture and makes a long term commitment to business travel. Read more.

9. Funding 💰

  • Beachy raised $1 million to fund new ancillary booking tools for hotels, bringing the Tennessee-based startup total funding to $5.5 million. The startup improves the waterfront reservation process by helping guests rent beach chairs, pool cabanas or jet skis.

  • The Valencia, Spain-based startup GuruWalk specializing in tip-based guided tours, secured €1 million in seed round funding. Since launching in 2017, GuruWalk has expanded to nearly 100 countries.

10. Players

  • Founded in 2010, London-based Gimmonix is a travel technology provider that helps distributors, suppliers and metasearches increase their revenue and boost efficiency through automated mapping technology, API connectivity and profit optimization tools. It has150+ clients in 30+ countries including Expedia, Rocketmiles and Almundo.

  • Toronto-based Umapped is a collaborative B2B2C itinerary and experience platform that helps travel companies engage with their customers throughout the entire travel lifecycle by giving travelers a social & collaborative trip planning tool.

.🎉 This is the last newsletter of 2019. With so much information out there, I appreciate your interest in receiving this newsletter in your inbox. Feel free to hit reply (or via Twitter) to send me feedback, ideas or suggestions on what would make this newsletter better for you. All the best in 2020!


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