Travel Tech Essentialist #72: Default Alive
When I talk to a startup, the first thing I want to know is almost always the same. Assuming their expenses remain constant and their revenue growth is what it has been over the last several months, do they make it to profitability on the money they have left? Or to put it more dramatically, by default do they live or die? — Paul Graham, founder Y Combinator
This newsletter has been sponsored by Selfbook.
By enabling a seamless booking flow, one-click checkout, and effortless mobile reservations, Selfbook gives hotels the freedom to focus their efforts on guest experience rather than on logistics. Selfbook's all-in-one transaction engine integrates directly with hotels’ existing central reservation systems, empowering them with a user experience that stays on-brand throughout the booking flow and boosting conversions. Read more about how Selfbook is providing hospitality’s missing ingredient here.
1. Customer acquisition inflation
According to Austin Rief (CEO of Morning Brew), the answer to the rising costs of growth are: content creation, partnerships and community. The next two stories provide some good insights in community building and content-driven growth.
2. A founder’s guide to community
If you’re a startup founder, you likely think about the importance of communities. In the 2021 CMX Community Industry Report, 86% of companies said that community is critical to their mission. According to First Round, 80% of startups were investing in community, and 28% considered it to be their moat and critical to their success. This article by David Spinks (co-founder of CMX—a community of 30K+ community managers) takes many of the core lessons and frameworks from his work and applies them specifically to the needs of founders and startups who are just getting started with communities, with actionable steps to get started: when to invest in community, how to get started, setting goals, crafting a strategy, hiring, scaling, and much more. You’ll also be able to put the frameworks into practice using A Founder’s Guide to Community Worksheet as you work your way through. Read more.
3. Content-driven growth
Which startups are best at content-driven growth, and what can we learn from them?
What are all the ways that content can drive growth? There’s obviously SEO. There are also viral blog posts, user-generated-content, editorially produced blog posts, data-generated pages, and so on. What other strategies are there, and how do they all fit together? Lenny Rachitsky breaks it down on this post. Read more.
4. 2022 Outlook of our Online Travel Trends
In July of 2021, my good friend (and former eDreams Odigeo colleague) Mario Gavira and myself published our Online Travel Trends report. Six months is a long time, particularly in a sector like online travel and in a time of Covid. I am delighted to have Mario back to revisit our trends and have some fun predicting how they will unfold during 2022. Mario is not only a great travel entrepreneur, visionary and executive, but also a gifted writer. Mario’s post.
5. How early-stage founders should think about a market downturn
Some data points on the current environment: public SaaS multiples down 30% in this latest correction from 27X to 19X; inflation up; markets down; interest rates about to rise.
In the last All -In podcast (my favorite podcast, btw), Jason Calcanis posed the following question: What is your best advice for early-stage founders in the current environment, assuming they have ~18 months of runway? Chamath Palihapitiya (Social Capital CEO, Virgin Galactic Chairman, king of SPACs…) recommended that founders should be following the advice of Paul Graham (Y Combinator founder): focus on being “default alive”. Paul Graham’s essay Default Alive or Default Dead? (written in 2015) is a highly worthwhile read. If you’re interested in what David Sachs (General Partner of Craft Ventures, PayPal mafia, Yammer founder), Jason Calcanis and David Friedberg responded, take a look at this write up of the conversation.
6. What should Airbnb launch in 2022?
In the last newsletter, I wrote the top responses that Brian Chesky received when he asked on Twitter what should Airbnb deliver in 2022. A couple of days later, Brian tweeted the most requested suggestions:
7. A good proxy to measure tourism recovery
Victoriano Izquierdo, Co-Founder and CEO of Graphext (a no-code data science tool great for data visualizations) analyzed the number of monthly reviews on Airbnb listings in Madrid and saw that the level is getting close to 2019. He then added the language for each review, and it seems like the recovery is explained due to the rapid growth of domestic tourists (Spanish reviews in red) which are now at higher level than pre-Covid, while English speakers are still below. Pretty cool way to track activity.
8. Travel startup founders on the complexities of fundraising
9. Barcelona on 🔥
Good recent news from three Barcelona-based startups.
TravelPerk raised $115 million at a valuation of $1.3 billion, led by General Catalyst. Gillian Tans (ex CEO of Booking), and Joel Cutler (early investor in Airbnb, Kayak, ITA Software) are joining the board. How did this business travel startup become a unicorn in the middle of a pandemic?
eBooking reached €55 million in 2021 sales, a 133% Year on Year growth. The hotel platform is led by Toni Raurich, founder of a few other startups and former Booking.com executive. Read more (in Spanish).
Mid and long term rental platform Spotahome closed a €25 million round (covered in October’s Travel Tech Essentialist #65)
10. Funding and other news
Atalaya Capital Management is backing Fly Now Pay Later with a $75 million debt financing package, bringing the total invested in the U.K.-based travel payment service to just over $150 million over seven rounds.
London-based theUp.co raised €8.3 million to expand hospitality ‘super app’. Since its launch in 2017, theUp.co has been upgrading hospitality experiences with an emphasis on devising new ways for customers to order, pay and socialize.
Dharma, a UAE-based startup bringing the passion economy to the travel space, comes out of stealth mode with a $3.5 million round led by Pernod Ricard’s Convivialite Ventures and Mubadala’s Hub71. It also announced the launch of football travel brand for global superstar Eric Cantona. Great team and a very interesting model.
Alternative accommodation marketplace HomeToGo finished 2021 with record booking revenue of €123 million, up 51% vs 2020, and an even sharper increase in the final quarter of 2021 – up 111%. The company also announced the acquisition of the vacation rental business unit of Groupe SeLoger, including its brands amivac.com, vacances.com and vacances.seloger.com, with the objective of growing its presence in France. Read more.
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Have a good weekend,