Travel Tech Essentialist #77: A Whirlwind of Opportunities
From digitizing bus travel, to reinventing the travel industry using blockchain, to launching the first nomadic hotel concept, and plenty more. I hope you enjoy today’s newsletter. And if you do, please share with your colleagues :-)
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1. The travel industry’s most digitally underserved sector: bus transportation
Globally, there are 34 million bus travelers per day compared to only 6 for air travel. That’s a massive ~6x difference. For Latin America this difference is 18x. Furthermore, the bus ticket-buying process is only 10% digitized versus 85% for air travel, 65% for hotels and 40% for trains. Latin America seems to be the geography with the largest upside. Latin America’s bus passengers per day are typically 13x that of Europe and 24x North America’s. Chile and Colombia alone have more than 2x and 4x the daily bus passengers compared to Europe and North America. Great post by Brian Walsh, Head of WIND Ventures, on why they invested in Busbud. Read more.
2. Top Travel Apps
Of the top 10 most downloaded travel apps in the world, in the US and in Europe, 5 apps appear in all three lists: Google Maps, Uber, Booking, Google Earth and Airbnb.
OTA apps. The fastest growing OTA app in the USA is Hopper. It went from being downloaded 5.3 million times in 2020 to being the most downloaded OTA app in 2021 with 15 million.
Historically, Vrbo was an underperforming OTA app prior to the pandemic. It’s now surging at 1.5 million US monthly downloads in February 2022, its most ever. Engagement is also increasing, with a 43% increase in sessions per MAU over the past six months, more than any other OTA app. Vrbo had 85 million monthly user sessions in the US in Feb 2022, vs around 20 million in both Feb 2019 and Feb 2020.
Hotel apps - USA. Downloads of the top 5 hotel apps decreased 3% YoY in 2021 but user sessions increased 34%. Marriott Bonvoy and World of Hyatt had the highest year-over-year user session growth rates.
Airline apps - USA. Ryanair had the highest Q4 year on year increase in sessions of all airlines, with +591%.
Car rental apps - USA. Turo and Getaround, two peer-to-peer car sharing apps are growing faster than the traditional car rental players.
3. The signs of Founder-Market fit
Most of the discussions around “Founder-Market Fit” focuses on the more tangible concept of industry expertise. James Courier, General Partner at venture firm NFX, highlights the other concrete dimensions that contribute to Founder-Market fit
4. TravelX is born with a mission to reinvent the travel industry
Blockchain-based travel distribution startup TravelX raised $10 million in seed funding. The round was led by Borderless Capital. The Florida-based startup aims to create a more frictionless industry using blockchain technology to tokenize inventory and develop new ways of distribution. The team of travel and blockchain specialists behind TravelX include founder/CEO Juan Pablo Lafosse (founder of Almundo), Chief Business Officer Roula Zaaour (former COO at Hopper) and CCO Francisco Vigo (founder of Avantrip). Some of the ways that TravelX is reinventing the industry:
Tokenized airline and hotel inventory that can be exchanged, transferred or resold.
No GDS fees, credit card fees, payment gateway fees, reduction in after-sale cost (call center).
Immediate reimbursements and changes managed by smart contracts.
Tickets sales up to 36 months in advance.
New, flexible and fully-automated content opens new opportunities for OTAs\
5. A picture is worth 67890 words
It took Malcolm Gladwell 67890 words to explain in his book “The Outliers” that the key to success in any field is simply a matter of practicing a specific task. I love how visual illustrator Alex Maese is able to communicate this powerful concept in one simple picture. You can find more of his mood booster visuals here. A reminder that visuals can create a more emotional connection with consumers and help communicate a company’s product and services in a quicker and more efficient manner.
6. Publicly traded online travel 4Q 2021 results
In the last newsletter I showed 4Q results for 4 OTAs. Here is a more complete list of 4Q 2021 revenues and EBITDA, with 2020 and 2019 comparisons.
7. The world's first nomadic hotel concept
Moliving is a luxury mobile hotel with independent units that can be picked up and parked anywhere. As the world’s self-described first nomadic hotel concept, these luxury units offer a five-star hotel experience. Moliving will launch their first hotel experience in New York’s Hudson Valley in 2023. Rather than competing with the traditional hotel model, this is a compliment to those hotels who have large properties and have room for outdoor units during seasonal peaks. Read +.
8. Travel photographers of the year
Worth taking a look at the Travel Photographer of the Year 2021 Winners. The overall winner was Fortunato Gatto, from Italy. The winning images will be displayed in London’s Granary Square in April and May 2022.
OTA Insight, a global leader in cloud-based hospitality business intelligence, acquired Madrid-based Transparent, a market leading provider of data and business intelligence for the short-term rental industry. The combination creates a comprehensive platform for data and analytics across both hotel and short-term rental industries. Read +.
One month after acquiring Barqo (a peer-to-peer boating marketplace based in Amsterdam), London-based boat rental platform Borrow A Boat acquires accommodation platform Beds on Board, a UK-based P2P platform connecting boat owners with people who want to stay on a boat without using it in open water. Read +
Travelzoo acquired the business unit of Secret Escapes in Spain, thereby increasing its reach from 870,000 to 1.5 Million travelers in Spain. Read +.
Hotel guest app Criton is being acquired by Nonius, a software company that creates hospitality tools covering in-room entertainment, check-in automation, analytics, WiFi and digital signage. Read +.
Germany-based eVTOL aircraft startup Volocopter raised $170 million in a Series E funding round led by WP Investment.
Hotel Tech startup Selfbook raised a $15 million extension of its Series A financing., valuing the company at $300 million. Tiger Global led the round, with new strategic hotelier partners also participating.
Dónde, a travel as a work benefit startup in Salt Lake City, announced a $3.3 million Seed round with Kickstart Fund leading. Dónde aims to help employees and employers by streamlining “travel as a work benefit”.
Santa Barbara-based HearHere, the company behind an audio entertainment and immersive storytelling road-trip app, raised $3.2 million in seed funding led by RV and outdoor retailer Camping World.
Travel management app Trzmo raised $1.2 million from private investors. Launched in January, the app presents flight itineraries and real-time changes, ground transportation details, weather and currency information and duty-free shopping recommendations in one dashboard.
Travel Tech Essentialist job board
There are currently 91 exciting jobs posted in the Travel Essentialist job board. This 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:
Captain Experiences: Back End Developer (Austin, TX)
Captain Experiences: Front End Developer (Austin, TX)
Expedia: Growth Marketing Manager, Paid Media (London)
Selfbook: Senior Customer Success Manager (Remote)
eDreams: Brand Marketing Manager, Prime (Barcelona)
Browse more open roles (or add your own open roles) at Travel Tech Essentialist Job Board
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Take care and see you soon,