Travel Tech Essentialist #82: Making Lemonade
The Leadership Team and I met on a Sunday afternoon in March 2020 and simply deleted the document with our yearly goals. We stood up by the whiteboard and wrote down 3 new priorities: 1) Survive. 2) Emerge strong . 3) Turn lemons into lemonade — Avi Meir, TravelPerk Founder
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1. A quickstart guide to positioning
A shift in positioning can completely transform how we perceive a product and can mean the difference between success and failure. April Dunford wrote “Obviously Awesome” a reference book on positioning for tech companies. On this post, she writes a practical and to the point guide to nailing your product positioning. She defines positioning as how your product is a leader at delivering something that a well-defined set of customers cares a lot about and explains the 5 distinct components that make up positioning and how the magic happens in the relationship between these components.
Competitive Alternatives - If you didn’t exist, what would customers use?
Key Unique Attributes - What features/capabilities do you have that alternatives do not?
Value - What value do the attributes enable for customers?
Customers that care - Who cares a lot about that value?
Market you win - What context makes the value obvious to your target segments?
She also highlights some of the common positioning traps and how to avoid them. Read +.
2. Managing your mental health while running a startup
According to a study by the University of California San Francisco, 1/3 of entrepreneurs suffer from depression, about twice the rate as the study’s control group. Okta co-founder Frederic Kerrest writes on managing your mental health while running a startup and gives tips to stay mentally, emotionally, and physically fit. Mental health among entrepreneurs is generally an under-discussed topic which might well be the most important for long-term success. This is particularly relevant to keep in mind in times of turmoil. Read +.
3. An ingenious way to travel and explore the world
This man built a rail cart and rides it along abandoned railway tracks in California and Mexico. If you’re inspired and want to build your own rail cart, here you have some instructions. Just be careful to ride it on abandoned tracks!
4. Revenge travel Q1 2022 revenues
A few travel companies have announced Q1 2022 revenues and year on year growth rates:
Marriott: $4.2 billion Q1 revenue, +81% year over year growth
Booking.com: $2.7 billion, +136%
Expedia: $2.2 billion, +81%
Airbnb: $1.5 billion, +70%
Accor: €701 million, +85%
Tripadvisor: $262 million, +113%
Vacasa: $247 million, +91%
Inspirato: $82 million, +67%
Sonder: $80.5 million, +155%
5. Tips for times of crisis, from TravelPerk founder and CEO Avi Meir
Avi Meir wrote a thoughtful Twitter thread (unrolled for easier reading) with actionable advice to entrepreneurs on what they can do to survive, emerge stronger and turn lemons into lemonade during times of crisis. “Many founders and investors freaking out right now. As the CEO of a VC-backed business travel startup that just went through 2 years of crisis and thrived, doing atm 10x revenue vs. pre-covid ($100m ARR) w/ much stronger company, here are some tips to thriving in crisis”.
Recessions and bear markets have proven to be breeding grounds for innovation. In addition to TravelPerk, other startups who either launched and/or accelerated their growth during a downturn include Airbnb, TripActions, Hopper, GetYourGuide, Vacasa, SilverRail, Adara and Joby Aviation.
6. Peacetime CEO/Wartime CEO
Peacetime and wartime require radically different management styles, but peacetime CEO techniques get a lot more attention and praise. Right about now is a good time to revisit Ben Horowitz’ (a16z cofounder) Peacetime CEO/Wartime CEO post from 2011. Some of the differences he highlights:
7. A new travel insurance player built to help things go right, rather than wait for things to go wrong
Israeli travel insurance startup Faye announced a $8 million seed round. Faye is looking to set a new standard to the normally confusing and legalese-filled world of insurance by offering a person-first approach, real time assistance, quick claims resolutions and reimbursement. Customers have come to expect a friendly, positive and intuitive experience in their interactions with most consumer products and services, but this has seldom been the case in insurance. Faye looks to overdeliver in an industry oftentimes synonymous with doing the opposite. Faye was co-founded by Elad Schaffer and Daniel Green, and the team includes professionals with prior experience in Lemonade, Allianz and Guesty. Best of luck to them.
In the past couple of years, insurtech startups have raised significant rounds to disrupt the insurance industry, among which are Cover Genius (USA, $72 million raised in Sept 2021), SafetyWing (Norway $35 million in April 2022) Sensible Weather (USA, $12M raised in May 2022), battleface (USA, $12M raised in Dec 2020), Koala (France, $2.2M in Jul 2020), Coverfox (India, $3.9M in Apr 2020). Larger companies have also upped their game to address the insurance opportunity. Outdoorsy launched a new insurtech division in Feb 2021 and raised $120M in June 2021 to support its Roamly insurance product; Booking.com created a Fintech division in July 2021 intending to hire up to 400 professionals; OTA Hopper doubled in size during the pandemic with a fintech-first strategy; Airbnb just introduced Aircover (in next story), which includes various traveler protections on each booking.
8. Airbnb 2022 Summer Release
Brian Chesky introduced on Wednesday what he called “the biggest change to Airbnb in a decade” (read +). It consists of:
Airbnb Categories. collections of homes organized by what makes them unique (camping, countryside, arctic, OMG, etc….)
Split Stays. Shows up when searching for stays longer than 1 week and splits the trip between different homes (one in Joshua Tree, another in Zion, for example)
Aircover for guests. Travel protection included free for all stays, covering booking protection guarantee, check-in guarantee, get what you booked guarantee and 24 hour safety line.
Not to be flippant, but I thought this tweet was pretty funny…
European ground transport specialist Bookaway Group completed a $35 million Series C round. Bookaway wants to make it as easy for travellers to search, shop, book and pay for ground transport as it is for flights and hotels.
Bounce, a SF-based startup that connects users that need short-term luggage storage, with businesses (hotels, dry cleaners and other local businesses) in 1000 cities around the world raised $14 million in a Series A round led by a16z to expand across key markets in Europe.
Weather coverage startup Sensible Weather raised $12 million to insure travelers against unwanted weather (for when the snow is too watery, or the wind doesn’t show up to your windsurfing trip, or the sun is missing in your caribbean escapade).
10. Partnerships and announcements
OTA Despegar announced to buy Brazilian OTA ViajaNet for $15 million. Read+.
Secret City Trails, a platform for self-guided and city discovery experiences, was acquired by the Netherlands-based, CityGoose. Read +.
Travel Tech Essentialist job board
There are currently 246 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:
Caravelo: Presales Manager (Barcelona)
Kiwi.com: Sales Manager (Barcelona)
Amadeus: Senior Account Manager Online Travel Agency (Remote)
The Hotels Network: Market Manager Spain (Barcelona)
TravelPerk: Senior Business Intelligence Developer (London)
Browse more open roles (or add your own open roles) at Travel Tech Essentialist Job Board
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