Travel Tech Essentialist #66: Noise to Signal

Travel intelligence datasets...SaaS metrics + benchmarks...top travel apps...corporate travel pivots to fintech...OTA strengthens B2B offering...German startup buys the US' largest bus company...

Curators are the new Google. Human knowledge today is a vast ocean of ephemeral and fragmented info, with the best sources near-impossible to find. We’re now seeing this scale is at odds with a fundamental human need: relevance. The solution is better search and better curation. —Sari Azout


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What is travel's biggest marketing & communications mistake? Assuming that all audiences are the actual end traveller. What about engaging with investors, industry analysts, tech partners, trade suppliers or B2B clients? 

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1. Better search, better curation

A couple of days ago I announced the launch of two products that address needs that many of you have communicated to me over the course of the last two years. The two datasets (Startups & Investors interactive dataset and Research & Insights interactive dataset) seek to bring relevance and inspiration to your questions, whether you want to know who are the most active investors in hotel tech SaaS startups or want to learn more on the latest developments on airline ancillaries. Get more information (launch access has few remaining spots).

2. The SaaS metrics that matter

David Sacks is partner of Craft Ventures and one of the world’s leading experts on SaaS businesses. In this post, he breaks down the SaaS metrics and KPIs that really matter and provides the benchmarks that Craft likes to see in order to lead a new investment. Craft also released their internal tool, SaaSGrid, which they’ve used to analyze KPIs for hundreds of SaaS companies, as a free publicly-available tool to help founders calculate metrics for their own startups. After entering some data in the SaaSGrid, you’ll instantly get a beautiful dashboard with metrics and benchmarks to evaluate the health of your business and easily share with investors. Plus, Craft is making a 24-Hour guarantee: If you send them your metrics already formatted in SaaSGrid, they’ll tell you whether they’re interested in investing within 1 business day. Read more.

3. Most popular travel apps on iPhone

Airbnb and Booking.com are the only two travel apps in the top 10 rankings in the Apple App store in the six countries below. Ryanair ranks in 4 countries, Easyjet and eDreams Odigeo in 3, and Hopper and Expedia in 2.

4. Boom times for private jets

The private jet industry struggles to keep up with high demand. Planemakers unveiled new orders and models at the world's largest business jet show in Las Vegas earlier in October. The main concern of private jet manufacturers and providers in the conference was how to effectively deal with such high demand. NetJets said that demand is higher than it’s ever been, with an average of 500 chartered flights a day compared to less than 400 in 2019, while XO started requiring 72 hours notice to charter a jet for its members, instead of the typical 24.

5. The metaverse travel agency

Most of us travel on earth. A few travel to outer space, while others are looking to explore the internet’s new frontier, the metaverse. This is the case of Metaverse Travel Agency, on a mission to get us to enjoy a world of limitless possibilities, connections, and adventures. And for this, they just released 5669 “Metahelmets”, the next generation of wearable NFTs on the Ethereum Blockchain. Each "is “Metaverse ready”, and comes with 3D files and a variety of unlockable content. It looks like there are already 2700 proud owners of metahelmets who’ve spent around $1.4 million in total. If you’re one of them, reach out to me. I’m Interested in learning more.

6. TripActions turns to fintech and raises a $275 million round at a $7.25 billion valuation

In March 2020, TripActions laid off 300 employees. It was at that point that the company decided to accelerate the timeline for its fintech expense product, TripActions Liquid (launched a month before the pandemic) which allows to manage all employee spend of company money, not only travel spend. This pivot consolidates a shift from a primarily “corporate travel” startup to also a spend management company. The latest F round of $275 million was raised at a $7.25 billion valuation, up from $5 billion earlier this year when it closed a $155 million Series E investment. The company now has 1,500 employees, almost twice as many after its March 2020 layoffs. Read more.

7. Hopper moves into Tours and Activities and strengthens its B2B platform

Hopper acquired PlacePass to lead its travel experiences offering. PlacePass is one of the largest activity aggregators, featuring more than 300,000 experiences in over 800 destinations and developing proprietary technology for travel providers. PlacePass will be available to travel brands via Hopper Cloud, Hopper’s B2B suite of API-enabled solution that allows any travel provider – airlines, hotels, online travel agencies, meta-search companies, travel agencies, etc. – to integrate and distribute Hopper’s fintech products, travel agency content and data science capabilities. It also offers white-label travel portals for non-travel companies. Hopper Cloud was launched in March 2021 and clients include Capital One bank and Amadeus Read more.

8. Flixbus acquires Greyhound

In June 2021, Germany’s FlixMobility raised $650 million at a $3 billion valuation to double down on buses and other transport in the US. This week, it acquired iconic Dallas-based Greyhound for an enterprise value of about $46 million. FlixMobility operates Europe’s largest long-distance bus network, with 62 million people using the service in 2019. Greyhound was founded in 1914 and is the largest provider of long-distance bus transportation in the US, serving 2400 destinations across North America, amounting to some 16 million annual passengers. Read more.

9. Fundraising rounds

  • Zeus Living raised a $55 million round to offer flexible, furnished rentals as it expands beyond corporate housing.

  • Trusted Housesitters closed a Series A round of $10 million. The startup connects travelers with plans to leave their pets behind to other travelers who will look after both the property and the animals.

  • Australian-based tours and activities booking technology startup Rezdy landed $5.6 million.

  • Airalo, which offers digital SIM cards so travelers can stay connected to mobile networks around the world, raised $5.4 million in Series A funding.

  • Short-term rental marketplace CuddlyNest raised $3.5 million in funding. The startup raised $6 million on October 2020.

10. M&A

  • Klarna, the Swedish global retail bank, payments and shopping service acquired Palo-Alto based Inspirock, an online trip planner using artificial intelligence and local expertise to enable Klarna’s 90 million users to explore a destination’s offerings and create personalized itineraries. Read more.

  • Munich-based vacation rentals platform Holidu acquired holiday rental platform Spain-Holiday, which it will merge with Holidu’s subsidiary Bookiply. Read more.

  • Banking giant Capital One acquired Boston travel tech startup Lola.com’s workforce and software. Lola cofounder Paul English (also cofounder of Kayak) and CEO Mike Volpe join Capital One and will oversee the bank’s tech operations in its new Boston office. Lola, meanwhile, has shut down. Read more.


Travel Tech Essentialist job board

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


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Have a great week,

Mauricio