Travel Tech Essentialist #96: Innovation and Joy
Chip Conley wrote that in bad economic times, fear is the most prevalent and contagious emotion in most companies and it has a corrosive effect on creativity and innovation. He alerts that companies that fall into a fear cycle aren’t able to develop the creativity that fuels innovation. In #7, you can read about one of his equations: Innovation = Creativity – Cynicism.
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1. Transportation for humans
The focus when transporting things is on efficiency and mathematical optimization. Transporting people is more complicated though, as psychology and feelings are added to the mix. There are two camps in transportation: the utilitarians and the romantics. One strives to optimize journeys against quantifiable measures while the other nostalgically recounts the joys of travel. In their book Transport for Humans, Rory Sutherland and Pete Dyson aim for a more balanced position. They argue that both views need to be updated to make transport simpler, more inclusive, and more sustainable. Read + Behavioral Scientist.
2. Amazon shuts down its virtual travel experiences platform
Last week Amazon told employees they needed to "double down on frugality" in the face of rising costs and an uncertain economic climate. The company also announced that it is ending Amazon Explore, its virtual one-on-one travel experiences platform launched amid Covid restrictions in late 2020. The division has around 100 employees. Read + The Seattle Times.
3. The optimal free trial length
Free trials are a popular acquisition strategy for SaaS businesses. The vast majority of trials offered range between 7 days and 90 days. A large-scale field experiment with 337,724 users concluded that 7-day trials increased subscriptions by 5.6%, retention by 6.4% (2 years after), and revenue by 7.9%. A shorter, but more intense, use of the product in a short trial leads to higher conversions. Read + Ariyh.
4. “Thanks in Advance” is better than “Best” or “Sincerely”
When you’re writing an email (or a newsletter), you probably don’t give a second thought to the ending. It turns out we should. An analysis of over 350,000 email threads found that email closings significantly impact response rates. Closing with an expression of gratitude (“Thank you,” etc…) correlated with a 36% relative increase in the average response rate. Read +.
5. Travel/mobility startup financing in 2022
There are 966 startups and 2100 investors in the Travel Tech Essentialist Startup & Investor dataset. Ninety-six of these startups have raised $3.1 billion in 2022 (and $9.9 billion in total funding). Here is a bit more info on the 96 startups:
59 cities represented. London (10 startups), San Francisco (9), New York (5), Barcelona (4), Austin (4), Berlin (4), Chicago (4), Tel Aviv (4).
24 countries represented. United States (39 startups), England (11), Spain (7), Germany (6), Israel (4), the Netherlands (4).
9 companies with rounds of more than $100 million this year: Wisk Aero, Traveloka, Kyte, Guesty, Volocopter, TripActions, Pollen, TravelPerk, and Kiwi.com.
The most common rounds were Series A (23), Seed (21), Series B (16), Debt (6)
These 96 startups have raised to date $9.9 billion from 526 investors. Andreessen Horowitz, Certares, JetBlue Ventures, Thayer Ventures are among the most active.
Out of 8 macro categories, the most common were: B2B (36), Transportation (12), Tours & Activities (11).
30 startups were founded in 2019-2021. 2017 is the year with the largest number of startups founded (13).
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7. Innovation = Creativity – Cynicism
Among his many accomplishments, Chip Conley is the founder of Joie de Vivre Hotels (which he grew to become the 2nd largest boutique hotel brand in the US), was Airbnb’s Head of Global Hospitality & Strategy while mentoring Brian Chesky, and is a recipient of hospitality’s highest honor, the Pioneer Award. His book Emotional Equations (published in 2013), offers ways to better understand our emotions so they can help us rather than hurt us. One of his equations relates to business, and I find it particularly relevant in the current environment.
Here is an excerpt: Fear is the most prevalent and contagious emotion in most companies, especially in bad economic times. Fear is a demotivator, and it has a corrosive effect on creativity and innovation. If we were to transfer this equation [Joy = Love – Fear] into the corporate world, it might be: Innovation = Creativity – Cynicism. Innovation is joy. Creativity is love. And cynicism, which breeds conformity, comes from fear. Companies that fall into a fear cycle aren’t able to develop the creativity that fuels an innovative organization primed to adapt to our evolving world. These dinosaur companies, stuck in fear, will become extinct in the twenty-first century. So, joy, love, and fear are just as relevant to your work life as to your love life.
8. In-flight announcement mystery
In September, there were many reports of mysterious voices on American Airlines’ in-flight announcement systems, sometimes lasting the entire duration of the flight, and nobody knows who’s responsible or how they did it. Read +.
Actor/producer Emerson Collins was the first to post a video on Twitter from his Denver flight. Click on the image below and listen for a good laugh 😂:
9. Giving great travel startups investor visibility
On October 1st I launched Travel Investor Network (TIN), an invitation-only platform for investors to discover great startups in the travel, hospitality, and mobility spaces. A high-caliber group of investors (VCs, Corporates, Angels) are already on board.
If you are a startup looking to raise a round (from pre-seed to Series D), please complete this form to get started.
If you are an investor interested in joining the Travel Investor Network, please complete this form (should take less than 2 minutes).
10. M&A and fundraising
Kantox will be acquired by Paribas. Founded in 2011, and with a very strong position in the travel sector, Kantox has emerged as a leading currency management automation software, enabling businesses to automate their end-to-end FX workflow. Congrats to the Kantox team. Read +.
TripActions raised $304 million Series G at a $9.2bn valuation. The money will be used to fuel the corporate travel company’s global expansion. TripActions partnered with Stripe for its European launch last year and opened offices in Portugal, Germany, France and the UK.
Thank you and have a great rest of the week,
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