Travel Tech Essentialist #68: A Travel Revolution

Finding Language/Market Fit...quarterly results European OTAs...accessible travel...Hopper's journey...great boards...Taylor Gandy...Casai's positioning...fundraising...IPOs and M&As

“For the first time ever, millions of people can now travel anytime, anywhere, for any length, and even live anywhere...This is a travel revolution” — Brian Chesky

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1. Finding Language/Market fit

Quick test: Which one of these headlines converted visitors to signups 10X better (3% vs 30%)?

The correct answer is Option B, and it’s language/market fit at work — when you find the exact right words to explain your product or service to prospective customers, words that resonate with goals and struggles that are already in their brains. Language/market fit might be one the most under-appreciated drivers for early-stage startup growth. To see other examples and understand the practical process to unlock LMF, read on.

2. European OTAs eDreams Odigeo and Lastminute Group post strong results

In my previous newsletter, I wrote about the better-than-expected quarterly results from Expedia, Booking and Airbnb. Let’s now add eDreams Odigeo and Lastminute Group to the mix.

  • Lastminute Group’s total revenues in Q3 2021 were €55 million, up by 60% year-over-year. Adjusted EBITDA came in at €13 million (up 289%).

  • In Q3 2021, eDreams bookings were 22% above pre-Covid Q3 2019 (and accelerating..see graph), while revenue increased 190%. Revenue in Q2+Q3 2021 was 230% higher than in the same period of 2020. Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was at €2.7 million.

3. Accessible travel will benefit us all sooner or later

Airbnb’s 2021 Winter Release included more than 150 upgrades and innovations. One important component of their release is the “Accessibility Review”, a feature that gives disabled people the ability to ensure a host home is accessible to them. The company says its agents have “reviewed and confirmed the accuracy of 100,000 accessibility features in 25,000 homes around the world.” Read more. Alvaro Silberstein and Camilo Navarro have been tackling this problem since 2017, when they founded Wheel The World to enable accessible travel. Their market is large and the problem they are solving is very real. There are 1.2 billion people with disabilities (not including friends and family) and accessibility information is very poor, both online and offline. This amounts to a very large segment of the population whose travel needs have not been properly addressed. And sooner or later, we will all benefit: “People with disabilities are the only minority that is not a minority. All of us will have a disability at some point in our lives because of aging. To some of us, it just arrived earlier than to others” - Alvaro Silberstein. Hopefully Airbnb can support Wheel the World in its mission.

4. Hopper’s journey

In his keynote yesterday at the Plug and Play Travel Summit, Simon Hedges (Corporate Development Director @ Hopper) shared some interesting information on the company. Some learnings:

  • Most downloaded travel app in North America, with 2 million monthly app new downloads and 70 million in total.

  • In 2019/2020 they launched new travel fintech products which now account for more than 50% of Hopper’s total revenue.

  • 56% of Hopper customers purchase at least one Fintech product and on average they buy over 1.64 per order.

  • Consumer travel industry fintech spend: $168 billion

  • In 2021 they launched Hopper Cloud to syndicate Fintech to partners such as Capital One, Kayak, MakeMyTrip, Marriott and others.

Here you have his full deck (thank you Simon for sharing the deck with me and the Travel Tech Essentialist community).

5. Reid Hoffman’s rituals of great boards

After more than 1,000 board meetings at Airbnb, Joby Aviation, Microsoft, LinkedIn, PayPal and others, Reid Hoffman has learned a thing or two about what makes effective boards. Read here his twitter thread (unrolled) on the 8 rituals and rituals that make the best boards and here if you want more context and details.

6. Meet Taylor Gandy

I generally try to bring an optimistic angle to these newsletters, but it is unquestionable that countless of travel companies have suffered over the past year and a lot of professionals have gone through very hard times. Taylor Gandy is one of them. His journey caught my attention. I hope you find it as inspirational (and uplifting) as I did. Read more.

7. Casai tries to become an Airbnb vertical in emerging markets

Backed by $48 million from Andreessen Horowitz (Angela Strange, General Partner specialized in FinTech led the investment), Mexico City startup Casai uses a mix of arbitrage, hardware, and customer obsession to replace Airbnb in emerging markets. Take a look at this short twitter thread (unrolled for ease of reading) to learn how it works.

8. There’s more to crypto than currency

We tend to associate blockchain with money and finance, but its applications are much broader. The Economist published this short article by Chris Dixon (a16z crypto fund partner) and Packy McCormick (Not Boring Co) which gives a good framework on what’s to come.

9. Fundraising rounds

  • Hotel business intelligence specialist OTA Insight raised $80 million to expand its business globally. The investment comes from Spectrum Equity.

  • New-York based Butler Hospitality raised $32 million to continue building a next generation hospitality platform, bringing the total funding to more than $50M.

  • California-based resort marketpolace Vacatia, which provides innovative consumer travel products and business solutions for timeshare resorts, announced a $20 million Series B round, and also obtained a $60 million acquisition and development fund.

  • Tours, activities and experiences mobile booking app FunNow raised $15 million from investors including Taiwan online travel agency KKday to expand to other Asian countries, including Singapore and Thailand.

  • Barcelona-based Amenitiz announced a €6.5 Million seed round to build the operating system of independent hotels. The round was led by Point-Nine; Avi Meier (Founder and CEO of Travelperk) and other entrepreneurs invested as well.

  • Sportihome, the French sports tourism and rentals startup, closed a €2 Million round led by Accurafy 4, with Nathalie Simon (windsurfing champion) also participating in the round.

  • Canada-based rental technology startup Enso Connect raised a seed found of $2 million led by Mantella Venture Partners.

  • UAE-based online travel aggregator CleverTrip raised a $750,000 pre-Seed round from an undisclosed angel investor.

10. IPOs, transactions, results, M&A

  • On November 8th, hotel commerce platform SiteMinder went public in a $627 IPO in Australia, valuing the company at $1.36 billion. The company was founded in 2006, and its technology provides a platform to integrate the internal management systems of individual hotels with booking sites.

  • Booking Holdings will acquire B2B hotel room distributor Getaroom from Court Square Capital Partners for $1.2 billion. The Dallas-based company was founded in 2005 by Rob Diener (also founder of Hotel Reservations Network, which became

  • TravelBank was acquired by US Bancorp. The expense reporting and travel management startup was founded in 2015 and in 2020 partnered with U.S. Bancorp, the umbrella organization that has includes U.S. Bank, to include the InstantCard service into its suite of tools.

Travel Tech Essentialist job board

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Have a great weekend,