Travel Tech Essentialist #73: The Future is Now
I don't know the future. I didn't come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it's going to begin. - Neo, 'The Matrix'
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1. Hotel distribution channel ranking in 21 markets
Each year, SiteMinder publishes its annual lists of the distribution channels bringing the highest booking revenue to hotels over the past 12 months across 21 of the world’s most established travel destinations. Some of the key insights in this year’s rankings:
A boom of direct traffic. In 20 of the 21 markets analyzed, direct bookings either maintained or increased their position on our lists, climbing up the rankings on 10. In 12 markets (including Spain, France, Italy, Germany and the UK), direct bookings are now ranked as the second-top producer of booking revenue for local hotels, up from five markets in 2020 and just two in 2019.
The increasing popularity of Airbnb as a distribution channel for hotels. Airbnb rose up to the top 12 ranking in 12 markets, and debuted in three: Indonesia, the Middle East and Spain.
Booking.com is the top channel in 17 of the 21 markets. And in the remaining four, it’s 2nd.
Expedia is in the top 5 channels in all 21 markets, top 3 in 17 markets, and 1st in two markets: USA and Canada.
2. The bus opportunity
Dynamic scheduling, sophisticated pricing, reserved seating and frequent traveler programs are beginning to give the bus sector a new look. Despite being a popular and cost-effective way to get around, buses are still the least digitized of all transportation modes (90% offline!). You can think of many brands where you can reserve flights or hotels, but what about buses? There is a significant opportunity to digitize a highly fragmented industry. This is attracting entrepreneurs and investors. Flixbus offers intercity bus service in Europe and the United States and raised $650 million at a $3B valuation last year. Busbud, an OTA specializing in global intercity bus tickets has raised $40 million. redBus, an online bus-ticketing platform with presence in India, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Colombia and Peru was acquired for $140 million by a joint venture between Naspers of South Africa and Tencent of China back in 2013. Pinbus.com, already the largest bus ticketing B2C marketplace in Colombia, is another interesting startup in this space with interesting product and geographic expansion plans. Read more.
3. The travel future of 2022
Wunderman Thompson published The Future 100, an optimistic and futuristic outlook of the 100 trends to watch out for in 2022. These trends are divided in 10 categories, one of them being Travel & Hospitality. Among the 10 travel trends that are discussed in detail are:
New age nautics
Top 3 destinations: Valletta (Malta), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Xishuangbanna (China)
4. The world’s first digital nomad village, one year on
In Madeira’s cove of Ponta do Sol, a nomad village was first set up in February 2021. The village is designed to be a one-stop shop to help aspiring nomads settle — at least for a few months — on the island. Since it opened, 4,670 nomads have arrived on Madeira and Porto Santo, the neighboring island. The project was developed in partnership with the local government and Startup Madeira, a local entity supporting entrepreneurs. Interesting article on what locals and nomads think one year later.
5. Calculating customer-based corporate valuation
This report focuses on the customer as the basic unit of analysis. The idea of customer lifetime value has been around for decades, but it does not tie it all the way to shareholder value. Daniel McCarthy and Peter Fader developed a new framework they call “customer-based corporate valuation”, which links customer economics to corporate value. This allows investors to build a model based on the drivers of customer value from the bottom up. This Morgan Stanley report discusses the framework for valuation, explains the elements of the CBCV model and reviews how companies can create value.
6. The future of work is not corporate
In the future, it’s likely that the average person will not work for a company. Instead, people will earn income in non-traditional ways by taking actions such as playing games, learning new skills, creating art, or curating content. This new future of work is enabled by the networks that form around crypto protocols. The traditional way to make money was “work-to-earn,” but the future of income is “x-to-earn” — play to earn, learn to earn, create to learn, and work to earn. This shift will require new decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) that can coordinate all this new activity outside the context of corporate systems. And the earning opportunities available in DAOs will be a function of the different types of contributions DAOs need. This a16z article offers a framework for understanding the options that will be available in the future of work.
7. Entrepreneurs, incumbents and investors talk about what’s next in travel
LocalGlobe (pre-seed and seed VC) and sister fund Latitude (series B onward) are organizing an online travel showcase in which we’ll hear directly from entrepreneurs building the future of travel, as well the world’s largest online travel companies. Discussions will focus on what comes over the next 5-10 years in travel. It will take place on Zoom on Tuesday Feb 1st, 5-7pm CET / 11am-1pm ET. You can sign up here. The agenda:
Rebuilding the rails for hotels online - Ben Stevenson (Impala)
Lessons learned from 5 decades in online travel, and what comes next in B2B travel - Joel Cutler (General Catalyst) & Avi Mair (Travelperk)
Reengineering air travel online - Stephen Grabowski (Gordian Software)
The incumbents' view: what next for the travel majors? - Jessica Patel (Expedia Group) & David Vismans (Booking)
The value of curation in travel - Doron Meyassed (The Plum Guide)
What's exciting in consumer travel today? - Caroline Hudack (Impala, Airbnb), Doron Meyassed (The Plum Guide)
8. The thin line between authentic and disingenuous
Ironically, the more that brands push to sound “authentic”, the more these efforts can come across as fake. YUM! Brands CMO Ken Muench oversees global marketing for KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell. He has a particular pet peeve about brand purpose:
“What I rally against is training marketers to use ‘purpose’ as a way of defining and marketing your brand. It often leads to very fake communication that belittles any real effort companies are trying to achieve.” With so many brands sounding off on the same issues, most purpose-driven marketing is not only not resonating; it’s coming off as disingenuous. Read + Marketoonist.
9. Joby’s air taxi just flew faster than any eVTOL yet
A full-size prototype of the Joby S4 completed what is believed to be the fastest flight of any eVTOL aircraft to date, hitting a true airspeed of 330 km/h in a test flight, beating the previously top speed of 322 km/h. With FAA certification on the horizon, Joby plans to have an electric flying-taxi network by 2024. Read + Robb Report.
10. Fundraising and deals
The Wanderlust Group, a technology provider for outdoor experience platforms, closed a $30 million Series C round led by Thursday Ventures. TWG is the parent brand to Dockwa, which connects boaters and marinas, and Marinas.com, a searchable marina directory. It is also preparing to launch Campouts, a platform for campers and campsites.
Blockchain-enabled travel startup Pinktada closed a $2 million round in December, led by True Global Ventures and the New York Angels. Pinktada uses NFTs to bring flexibility to travelers and value to hotels.
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…
FindHotel: Product Manager - Offers, $65K-$90K, (Amsterdam, Remote)
FindHotel: Lead Product Manager, Mobile, $75K-$120K, (Amsterdam, Remote)
FLYR Labs: Product Manager Marketing Technology, (Los Angeles, Remote)
Gordian Software: Airline Partnership Lead, (Bellevue WA, Remote)
Browse more open roles (or add your own open roles) at Travel Tech Essentialist Job Board
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Have a great rest of the week,