Ready to Fly to Space this Summer?

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We’re diving straight into the top news of the week, focusing on innovation, trends, and startups that are shaping the travel industry. Let’s begin:

  • Space flights are ready for liftoff. Virgin Galactic announced that commercial flights to the edge of space will start in August for ticket holders. After their research flight next week, Virgin Galactic’s rocket-powered space plane will take passengers on their journeys starting in early August, with monthly flights to follow. It seems like Virgin Galactic is set to fulfill its vision of space tourism and provide passengers with a transformative experience of silence, weightlessness, and, yes, breathtaking views of Earth. Phew.
  • Positioning a European capital for success. Brussels has unveiled its new international brand strategy, “In Brussels, We Dare You to Be Yourself,” to position the city as an attractive and authentic destination. By highlighting Brussels’ cultural, heritage, tourist, economic, culinary, and environmental assets, the initiative aims to enhance the city’s image internationally and attract talent, investment, and visitors. This strategy plays a key role in Europe, showcasing Brussels as a vibrant hub that embraces diversity and offers a unique experience for individuals to thrive.
  • AI interactions for hotels. Portuguese conversational AI company for hotels HiJiffy secured €3.8 million in funding. Despite launching its first round during the pandemic, the company has achieved remarkable milestones and now has plans to fortify its presence in the UK, and France, and expand into the DACH. The funding will fuel their growth, enabling a team expansion to over 50 employees and launching an innovative product (we are curious!). With an impressive footprint in 1,800+ hotels across 50+ countries, HiJiffy leads the digital transformation, revolutionizing guest experiences through cutting-edge digitization and automation. Not bad for three co-founders who embarked on this startup adventure without prior experience in the travel industry.
  • New fund for hospitality startups in Asia. Technekai has established a presence in Singapore and plans to raise $100 million to invest in hospitality tech startups across the Asia Pacific region. Targeting startups in the seed to Series A stage, the fund aims to provide funding ranging from $3-5 million per startup. Technekai focuses on supporting innovative startups in areas such as booking engines, AR/VR experiences, and guest apps, while also enhancing efficiency through hotel CRM, reputation management, and energy management systems. By facilitating the global expansion of local startups and capitalizing on emerging tech trends in APAC, Technekai aims to drive the success of the region’s hospitality industry.
  • Saudi Arabia just got easier. Almosafer and Klook have partnered to launch a digital marketplace for tours and experiences in Saudi Arabia. The B2B platform provides a comprehensive catalog of travel products and experiences, leveraging Klook’s global distribution network to offer booking experiences, connecting Saudi Arabia’s travelers with global platforms – starting with Klook. The platform provides merchants better exposure and access to distribution channels while offering distributors a seamless way to access activities and experiences in Saudi Arabia. The joint venture represents a significant step towards establishing world-class tourism standards and enhancing the domestic tourism offering in Saudi Arabia.
  • India shines in Paris. In a surprising turn of events, India stole the spotlight in Paris this week. First, IndiGo’s jaw-dropping order of 500 planes from Airbus left us all astounded. But the surprises didn’t stop there: Air India followed suit by placing an order for 470 aircraft, a combination of Airbus and Boeing jets. It’s clear that Indian travel companies are making their mark on the global stage, and it’s about time we recognize them as the driving forces they are. These headline-grabbing deals highlight the remarkable growth and influence of Indian travel companies. Let’s keep a close eye on their continued success beyond the excitement of this eventful week?