Travel Tech Essentialist #79: 10x Better
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This newsletter is sponsored by
Selfbook has been selected as Forbes Travel Guide’s Brand Official Digital Wallet Provider for 2022. Forbes Travel Guide’s Brand Officials are selected for representing the highest level of excellence in their respective product and service categories for hospitality. Selfbook was selected as Official Digital Wallet Provider thanks to its prowess in empowering hotels to support digital wallets and alternative payment methods such as Apple Pay and Google Pay.
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1. Unbundling Airbnb: go to Airbnb, pick a niche and execute it 10x better.”
As Mark Andreessen stated, there are only two ways to make money in business: one is to bundle; the other is to unbundle. Peter Fabor wrote an interesting post on the unbundling Airbnb opportunity. Simply picking a niche on Airbnb and creating a marketplace does not work because nobody is going to book a trip on some brand-less platform instead of Airbnb unless that platform is doing something 10x better. Successful unbundling requires building unique inventory and perfecting the user experience. Some examples:
Upscale villas for remote workers: Wander
Tiny houses for a digital detox: Unplugged
City apartments for business travelers: Sonder
Villas for creators: Launch House, Creator Cabins
Airstreams in national parks: Autocamp
Take a look at his post to go more in detail into the unbundling opportunities.
2. Hotel subscription program - Discontinued
In September 2020, I published in this newsletter the launch of CitizenM’s corporate subscription program for remote workers. For €550 / month, companies got a daily workspace in any citizenM hotel + 3 nights / month + 3 hours of meeting room use. I visited the program’s page today and saw that the program was no longer available. A shout-out to CitizenM for testing new concepts. The world’s most innovative companies are also the ones with the highest number of failed experiments. It comes with the territory.
3. CitizenM to become the first hospitality company to build in the metaverse
And speaking about testing new concepts, CitizenM announced plans to build a hotel in the metaverse. CitizenM will begin by acquiring a "LAND site" in the gaming world The Sandbox and will then build a virtual hotel where avatars can "work, sleep and play". The financing will come through the sale of 2000 NFTs attached to rewards such as discounts or free drinks redeemable at all of its real-world hotels. All NFTs will be sold at the same price but buyers will randomly be assigned to one of three levels. The higher the level, the better the rewards, and their rarity has the potential to increase the value of the NFT. Once the virtual hotel is built, CitizenM plans to collaborate with emerging artists to create digital NFT artworks for display on its walls, which guests will be able to purchase. The profits from this initiative will go towards the potential creation of a physical, real-life hotel in a location to be voted by the NFT holders. Cool idea. Best of luck to CitizenM. Read + dezeen.
4. SaaS focused board deck template
David Sacks has been investing and building some of the most iconic companies of the last 20 years (part of the PayPal mafia, Yammer founder, founder at premier SaaS VC Craft Ventures, etc…). He shared a great and detailed board meeting deck template for SaaS companies. If you’re a SaaS company (or a SaaS investor), please take a look.
5. BlitzFail: How not to go off the rails
Fast, an online checkout startup that raised $102 million (led by Stripe) and was once valued at $600 million, announced that it will shut down. Its burn rate was as high as $10 million per month despite generating only $600,000 in revenue in 2021. This is a good time to read a great post by David Sacks (again), which identifies the top reasons why fast-growing startups go off the rails (or “BlitzFail”). The issues have 3 things in common: 1) They are existential and are capable of derailing a startup. 2) They are surprising and can go undetected for awhile, then manifest suddenly. 3) they are common enough to occur across many startups. He outlines the most common pitfalls and warning signs in the hopes that founders avoid them. Read more.
6. First-ever blockchain-backed flight tickets
Blockchain-based travel startup TravelX is partnering with Spanish airline Air Europa to release the world’s first NFT flight ticket series. Owners who purchase NFTickets will get special access to an Air Europa flight to Miami Beach at the end of November, as well as perks and events ahead of Art Basel. When traded, NFTicket transactions are recorded on the blockchain, and when ready to use, the owner can show the NFT and a matching flight ticket will be issued. Read + Phocuswire.
7. Uber Travel
Uber announced that later this year their UK customers will be able to book flights, buses and car rentals. Let’s remember that Uber’s CEO spent 12 years as CEO of Expedia Group. Read + The Hustle.
8. OTA 2021 Revenue / years in operation
A bit of a weird metric, but I divided the 2021 revenues (second column in the table above) by the number of years operating (second column) for 11 publicly traded OTAs and metasearches and this is how they rank:
Group travel booking platform Groups360 raised $35 million in a round led by Zigg Capital. Launched in 2014, it received a $50 million investment from Accor, Hilton, IHG and Marriott International in 2019.
A few months after it announced a $7M seed round, Barcelona-based Amenitiz closed a $30 million Series A led by Eight Roads. The SaaS startup calls itself the “Shopify for hotels” and wants to become the operating system for independent hoteliers in Europe. It currently serves over 4000 properties.
Sweden-based Minut closed a $14 million Series B funding round. The Minut sensor monitors noise, occupancy, motion and temperature in vacation rental properties.
10. M&A and other
Alternative accommodation metasearch HomeToGo acquired E-Domizil for about €40 million. Germany-based e-Domizil was founded in 2000 and had €20 million in 2021 revenue. HomeToGo’s 2021 revenue was €123 million.
Rob Torres re-joins Expedia as SVP of Media Solutions, after spending the last 15+ years at Google overseeing sales, strategy, product development and relationship management for Google’s largest travel advertising partners. He previously spent 7 years as VP of strategic accounts, working closely with key hotel partners.
Travel Tech Essentialist job board
There are currently 159 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:
WeRoad: UK Country Manager (London)
Expedia Group: Growth Marketing Strategy / Business Intelligence (London)
Expedia Group: Vice President, Retail Partnerships (Seattle, WA)
Airbnb: Product Manager, FinTech (San Francisco)
Airbnb: Senior Business Development Manager (Miami)
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,
PS. This episode was written from a scuba diving paradise. Care to guess where? Hover on the image to see the alt text and see if you guessed right :-)