Travel Tech Essentialist #89: Non-Consensus
Not everything that makes sense works, and not everything that works makes sense
The human mind does not run on logic any more than a horse runs on petrol
When you demand logic, you pay a hidden price: you destroy magic
― Rory Sutherland
This week’s newsletter is sponsored by Pinktada. And they are extending all Travel Tech Essentialist subscribers a 30% discount on all hotel bookings!
Pinktada is the next generation in hotel room booking, providing swappable, sellable reservations for luxury resorts. An immersive hotel experience allows guests to see exactly what they are paying for, from ocean views at a Hawaiian resort to pool-side cabanas in the Dominican Republic. Pinktada is offering Travel Tech Essentialist readers a 30% discount on all bookings made by August 15th, 2022, and $50 in PinkCash upon booking confirmation. Use promo code TTE2022 at Pinktada.com!
1. Building momentum
Since I launched this newsletter 3 years ago, I have been approached by great professionals and companies looking for each other. I've been able to matchmake some manual introductions, but the Travel Tech Essentialist Talent Collective is the best way I could think of scaling the impact of connecting companies and talent. And it’s working. The first drop of candidates was sent 10 days ago, and many of them have been already approached by hiring companies to fill in full-time, part-time and freelance positions. I will be sending the second drop in the next couple of days, so please make sure that you get on the list today.
The TTE Talent Collective adds value to:
Travel industry professionals actively or passively looking for new opportunities → Sign up.
Travel startups that have had to lay off employees and want to help them find a job → Share this link with them.
Travel companies that are actively looking for full-time, part-time and freelance professionals with deep experience in some of the leading travel companies → Sign up to meet candidates.
🙏 I need your help in getting the word out to bring more candidates and more hiring companies into the platform. And if you have any ideas on how I can further grow both sides of the marketplace, I’m all ears!
2. Just being right is not enough
In order to create something legendary, you have to have an insight that is non-consensus and right. Andy Rachleff, co-founder of Benchmark Capital (and the person who coined the concept of “product-market fit”), suggests a 2x2 matrix. On one dimension, you can be right or wrong. On the other dimension, you can be consensus or non-consensus. If you are wrong, you will fail. But it turns out that just being right is not enough. The one square you want to be in is the square that is non-consensus and right. Your startup might be a good idea, but if it’s too obvious, there will be plenty of competitors. With lots of competition, prices erode, sales cycles lengthen, and exit options become less attractive. The path to greatness is to be non-consensus and right. Read +.
3. Hopper’s road less traveled
Hopper and its founder Fred Lalonde know about making bold bets that go against the consensus, and they have been proven right more times than not. In this interview with a16z, Lalonde referred to some of the ways that Hopper has taken the road less traveled (no pun intended). Read + Future
4. How it all started
A good example of being right and non-consensus is Airbnb. This email from 2007 is how it all started.
5. The upside of being irrational in travel
Rory Sutherland is an Ogilvy advertising legend. He specializes in examining consumer behavior to find ‘unseen opportunities’ — often small contextual changes, which have enormous effects on decision-making. Rory’s take is that people are irrational beings who often don’t make decisions based on facts and figures. At a recent Travelport event, he shared unique perspectives on what travel could gain by exploring the irrational side of customer behavior and doing things differently.
Better to pretend that you’re in the entertainment industry and not in the travel/transportation industry.
Stop obsessing about journey times. Engineers measure time in seconds, but humans measure it in boredom, pain, or enjoyment.
How to make people pay more for a longer journey.
Why the Uber map is a psychological moonshot.
How to dissuade those travelers who insist on forming a boarding queue too early.
Travel websites are all designed for the business traveler, and that opens a big opportunity for a better interface for leisure travelers.
6. Above the Fold - the most important part of your page
Your "above the fold" (ATF) section is the part of your site that's immediately visible before scrolling. When visitors land there, they decide to either stay or leave. In seconds, they attempt to assess what you do and whether you're a fit for them. If the message is weak (your product's purpose is unclear, generic, uninteresting, or irrelevant), visitors will bolt.
This playbook by Julian Shapiro will help you to improve the key text in your ATF (headers, subheaders, and call-to-action buttons) with the objectives of:
Identifying how users get value from your product
Adding a hook to get them to keep reading
Proactively addressing major objections
Speaking directly to your customer personas
Supporting your header's claim with a subheader explaining how your product works and what makes the header's bold claim believable
Designing your ATF to support your message: value-added images, minimal and focused navbars, and relevant Call To Action buttons.
Airbnb as an example:
-What’s the bad alternative? Sterile hotels in which you don't experience the real culture
-How is your product better than that bad alternative? Stay in local's home.
-Now turn the last step into an action statement: Experience new cities like a local
-Objections: Only available for long term?
-New header: Experience new cities like a local in rentals. No minimum stays.
- Subheader: An online rental marketplace with thousands of short-term rentals in your area.
-CTA: Find a rental
7. “We’re looking for volunteers”
Airlines have oversold flights since the 1950s. This WSJ article goes over the science behind the different auction strategies that airlines use to get people to give up their tickets, and what passengers can do to exploit it. In one episode, Delta was looking for eight volunteers and offered $10,000 per passenger in cash: "if you have Apple Pay, you'll even have the money right now”.
8. JPMorgan is building a giant travel agency
For the past 18 months, the biggest bank in the US ($4 trillion in assets) has been assembling the pieces to launch a full-service travel business. JP Morgan Chase bought a booking system (cxLoyalty) in December 2020, a restaurant discovery service (The Infatuation) in September 2021, a luxury travel agency with more than 1000 agents (Frosch International Travel) in February 2022 and is building its own airport lounges. A new website will launch in the coming months. JPMorgan believes it can differentiate itself partly because of its detailed insight into what its customers spend. Its data will power both travel agents and AI that can target customers with offers and ideas. JPMorgan executives believe the bank could capture $15 billion in bookings in 2025, making it the 3rd biggest travel agent in the US. That is still smaller than the parent companies of booking.com and Expedia, which each manage more than $70 billion. Read + WSJ
9. The power 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. A shout out to some travel startup whose value proposition is all about communities:
Thermal is building the marketplace for passion-driven travel, and they are starting with the surfing community.
Xeni allows brands and individuals to sell their own travel online under their own brand. No code required.
Your Friends Are Boring is creating a community of young professionals in San Francisco and organizes group trips with complete strangers who become really close friends by the end.
Travel Tech Essentialist job board (this is a different product from the Talent Collective)
There are currently 111 exciting jobs posted in the Travel Essentialist job board. Just a few of the amazing jobs seen on the board:
Booking.com, Senior Product Marketing Manager, FinTech (Amsterdam)
Airbnb, Growth Marketing Lead, SEM (San Francisco)
eDreams Odigeo, Strategic Partnership Manager (Barcelona)
Exoticca, Revenue Manager (Barcelona)
Laya Technologies, Growth Marketing Manager (Remote)
Kantox, Sales - Currency Management Specialist, Travel (Barcelona)
P.S. 📣 Join Travel Tech Essentialist Talent Collective (a reverse job board, where companies apply to candidates)
→ For candidates looking for new opportunities: if you want to stand out and get hiring companies to come knocking at your door, sign up to the TTE Talent Collective.
→ For companies looking for the best and deepest talent in the travel industry: join now to start getting bi-monthly drops of world-class hand-curated candidates who are open to new opportunities.
Thanks for reading and have a great week,