Travel Tech Essentialist #65: Accelerating into the Fall

Heads up: in the next few days, I will send a one-off special announcement to share with you a couple of products that I’m launching that I hope you will like.

I was asked this week by a startup if there was a fast way to sign up all their employees to the newsletter, so I put together this form to make it easier. If you want your colleagues to receive this newsletter every two weeks, please use the form to easily and automatically sign them up. Thanks for your support in helping this newsletter reach a wider audience.


This newsletter has been sponsored by xCheck and FLYR

Connecting xCheck to FLYR will enable our customers to launch more solutions, quicker and better than ever.” – Tim Underwood, Founder and CEO of  xCheck

Connecting Airline Marketing to RM


1. Game design (not gamification) to build great products

Rahul Vohra is the founder and CEO of Superhuman, a startup whose mission is to make the fastest email experience in the world. He uses game design to make email feel less like work and more like play. As a result, Superhuman customers get through their inbox twice as fast as before, reply to their important emails sooner, and many see inbox zero for the first time in years. Rahul shares his theory of game design for building satisfying products in any industry to retain and delight users. He distills elements of psychology, storytelling, mathematics, and interaction design into seven principles that will give users an experience that’s rewarding, fun, and productive. Read more.

2. Travel insights by Google

As a way to support the travel industry during and post Covid, Google has now made public a few travel and destination insights tools that used to be only available to their largest clients. Using drop-downs (origin country, destination country, trip type, demand category, date range) to drill down on what’s relevant for you. Some of the tools available include:

  • Destination insights - explore how tourism demand is changing. You’ll see how travel demand has changed for your selected location(s) over time, which places are top destinations with the highest travel interest, which places experienced the highest growth in demand over the selected time range, which travelers are interested in your selected location and how inbound and outbound flight and accommodation demand compares in your selected countries.

  • Hotel insights - learn where interest for your hotel and your region is highest right now, where new guests are coming from, and explore booking trends.

3. Stepping on the marketing accelerator pedal

Expedia Group, Booking Holdings and Airbnb all saw significant revenue increases in Q2 2021, although still below Q2 2019 levels. What was above 2019 levels in Q2 2021 was marketing as % of revenue for Booking and Expedia.

4. SoftBank commits $3 billion more to investing in Latin American tech companies

SoftBank announced the launch of its Latin America Fund II with an initial $3 billion commitment. The new fund builds upon SoftBank’s $5 billion Latin America Fund, which was first announced in March 2019. That fund has generated a net IRR of 85% — with SoftBank having invested $3.5 billion in 48 companies (15 of which are unicorns) with a fair value of $6.9 billion as of June 30. Read more.

Latin America’s mega-fundraising rounds and new unicorns reflect a tech expansion catalyzed by the pandemic but at a pace beyond any projections. The Latin America Digital Transformation 2021 report tells a story of massive acceleration and significant room to grow, detailing the surprising changes the pandemic has brought to consumer preferences, workplace dynamics, business models and the geopolitical influence on the fast-changing tech sector. The report includes 200 slides of data-rich analysis, primary research, private company data and case studies.

5. The 10 commandments of salary negotiation

Niya Dragova, co-founder of Candor, has helped hundreds of people negotiate their compensation at all of the top tech companies and she has great insights into the process. She wrote a very useful post highlighting 10 basic rules to a successful salary negotiation, addressing many myths (such as needing a competing offer) along the way. Read more.

6. Communication tests

Tim Ferris interviewed General Stanley McChrystal, retired US Army 4-Star General, founder of the McChrystal Group and senior fellow at Yale University’s Institute for Global Affairs. One of the topics discussed was communication as a basic key to an effective team. But be successful at effective communication, your organization must pass four tests:

  • The physical ability to pass the information (can or can't)

  • The willingness to pass it (will or won't)

  • The quality of the message (accurate, complete, timely, relevant)

  • The receipt of the information (able or unable to digest and understand the message)

7. Airline passenger volume recovery projection

Bain & Company projected G20 countries’ total airline passenger volume in July 2022, as percentage of July 2019. Highest in their projections are China (100%), Indonesia (87%) and the US (83%). On the other end are Japan (55%) and India (56%). Europe is projected at 73%. Read more.

8. Cities, offices and business travel

Many claimed that the pandemic and remote work would mean that big offices in big cites were on the way out. That’s still a valid argument, but Google just announced the purchase of a New York office building for $2.1 billion (one of the priciest office building sales in US history), a clear signal that big technology companies still have an appetite for office space, even as these firms embrace remote work. “We know that our employees, in order to really be happy and productive, need to collaborate. Because of that need to collaborate, we’ve been investing more and more in office space” said Google’s director of public policy and government affairs. Well, these same arguments can also apply to business travel, so let’s hope that the reports of the death of business travel have been greatly exaggerated :-).

9. Fundraising rounds

  • Insurance technology startup Cover Genius secured a Series C investment of $72 million to help expand into new markets in Europe. It has now raised $95 million in total funding. Founded in 2014, Cover Genius enables travel partners such as Booking Holdings, Skyscanner, Despegar, and Etraveli to customize, add on and embed insurance offerings.

  • Spotahome, the Barcelona-based mid and long term rental platform, closed a €25 million (news in Spanish) round, with a total of €80 million raised since its founding in 2014. Investors include Kleiner Perkins, Seaya Ventures and 14W. The proptech company reached profitability in Q3 2021 and expects to close the year with €150 million in bookings.

  • Latin American highly digital hotel chain Ayenda closed a $10 million Series B round led by 500 Global. Ayenda was founded in 2018 in Colombia as a tech platform to help boost revenues of small hotels.

  • Los Angeles-based hospitality technology startup Jurny raised $9.5 million, bringing its total raised to date to $12.5 million. Founded in June 2020, Jurny provides SaaS and hardware solutions for independent hotels and vacation and short-term rental properties.

  • Meetings management platform Troop raised $8 million in Series A. Troop uses data analysis and an algorithm to consider such factors as attendee origination points, flights, travel time, safety risks, costs and carbon footprint to help users find the optimal location and time for meetings and events. The Madrid-based startup was founded in 2017.

  • Argentina-based travel search engine Turismocity raised $6 million and made its second acquisition in less than a year, acquiring Brazil-based Quanto Custa Viajar. In December 2020 it acquired Dallas-based FareCompare enabling it to expand beyond its initial focus on Latin America to the US and Europe. 

  • Bangladesh OTA Go Zayaan raised $2.6 million in a seed round led by Wavemaker Partners and Airbnb executives.

  • European Altacasa raised €2 million in pre-seed funding. The proptech company was founded in 2021 with the goal of making it easier to own second homes, by allowing customers to buy a part in a limited company that owns the entire property.

  • SmartRyde, a Japanese pre-booked airport transfers platform connecting travelers to local transportation operators and OTAs announced a a $1.6 million Series A.

  • Singapore-based Vouch raised a $1.1 million seed round led by Forge Ventures. Vouch provides artificial intelligence and chatbot-based solutions for hotels to streamline operations and enhance the guest experience. 

10. Announcements

  • Oyo filed the paperwork for an IPO, in which it is seeking to raise about $1.16 billion. Oyo is seeking a valuation of over $12 billion in the IPO.

  • Alex Cruz (former chairman and CEO of British Airways) joined Caravelo as investor and board member. Read more.

  • Grapevine won the 2021 business travel innovation award at Business Travel Show Europe. Grapevine, launched in early 2020, partners with TMCs to improve ancillary attachment rates and capture in-destination spend.


Travel Tech Essentialist job board

Jared Alster, cofounder of Dune7 is right in pointing out that travel companies are hot.

The Travel Essentialist job board can be a great resource whether you’re hiring or looking to be hired. Here are just a few of the amazing jobs seen on the board…

Browse many more open roles (or add your own open roles) at Travel Tech Essentialist Job Board


If you’re finding this newsletter valuable, consider sharing it with colleagues and friends, or subscribing if you haven’t already.

See you soon

Mauricio