Travel Luxury, Subscriptions & Innovation

In case you missed the amazing group of people we got together to join the jury of this year’s FutureTravel Pitch Competition, here they are! We’ll be joined by: Christoph Schuh, Michele Luperini, Meryem Aydin and Isabelle Gallo. They are expert investors with extensive experience and expertise in the travel & hospitality sector – let’s say it’s a perfect fit to evaluate this year’s finalists. We can’t wait for this year’s FutureTravel Summit! PS: How cool would it be to see the same gender ratio amongst our applicants? 🙂

Here is our weekly curation of the top news on travel innovation, trends and startups:

  • Investment rolls in for startups personalising booking experiences. With this summer seeing travellers get back into the rhythm of organising trips and getaways, travellers want more freedom and simplicity in the process. Helping players in the travel industry do just that with a Travel-as-a-Service cloud-based booking platform, Spotnana has now crossed the $100 million funding mark after its latest fundraising round. The New York-based startup is now focusing on modernising infrastructure and developing the platform.
  • Travel subscriptions are the new black. Travel records have been broken in many aspects this summer – one of the less exciting being the prices that travellers have paid to jet off and enjoy some well-earned downtime. It means that travel firms have had to rethink how to make travel affordable and competitive, to encourage people to continue to book trips. The shining star? The rise of the subscription model. Similarly to the buy now pay later boom in commerce, travel is no-longer seen as needing to be a one-off payment. According to the startup OTA Ultimate Travel Club, membership of their subscription holiday tool has doubled each month. Not bad, uh…
  • Renewed faith in hospitality innovation. The hospitality sector has undergone dramatic change in the past couple of years. Perhaps slower than other sectors to jump on the digital transformation bandwagon, the sector is now more than making up for it with digital innovation raising eyebrows and disrupting the market across the world. Reflecting this, Mews, the next-generation hospitality cloud for hotels, hostels, apartments and more, has formally launched Mews Ventures. Following successful acquisitions by Mews, this launch is aiming to bring together the brightest minds in hospitality and tech to identify new ways to bring excellent guest experiences and empower further development in the sector.
  • Luxury guest experiences now delivered by an app, not a friendly face. Dubai-based Qstay has just raised $6.5 million after an impressive year of growth. The startup offers guests a tech-driven luxury experience via a mobile app that includes access to pools, gyms and spas as well as hotel-like amenities in its properties. It’s a new approach to luxury travel that uses technology to give travellers the stay of a lifetime and one that can be fully personalised. The startup now has about 200 vacation rentals in the UAE and Europe, with another 200 already signed. Then, with the app, guests can access nearby top beach resorts and the like.
  • Aviation workers want to fly away from the sector. Anyone who has tried to catch a flight this summer can confirm it – airlines and airports have a lot of work to do. Not only has this summer been disruptive for travellers, but also for the staff trying their best to manage and control a downwardly spiralling situation. Now, it’s been reported that almost half of all airport and airline workers (41.4%) are considering quitting the industry – pay and stress are the two key reasons why. Ouch.
  • Air bye and bye! Co-founder of Airbnb Joe Gebbia to step asideGrowing one of the most disruptive and influential travel tech companies is impressive work. Now, one of the brains behind Airbnb – one of the world’s most iconic travel firms which erupted into the market back in 2008 – has decided to step aside to pursue new projects and enjoy more family time. Joe Gebbia headed up the company’s product development team. While we are sure some well-earned rest is in the pipeline for Joe (maybe even a stay in an Airbnb or two), he has said he is ‘bursting with more ideas to bring to the world’ and we can’t wait to see what that entails!
  • Hyperlocal and hyper-digital – trends here to stay. KKday, the mobile-first ecommerce travel platform based in Taipei, has secured additional funding to bring its Series C round to $95 million. It’s a reflection of the impressive bounce back made by travel firms willing to immerse themselves in digital innovation and bring hyperlocal experiences to travellers with a tech-first approach. The startup spent the past year building strong foundations and preparing new digital approaches, getting ready for the travel boom that has been seen this summer right across the world. Now, with travel growing steadily in Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea and beyond, the company has rebounded since the pandemic thanks to its forward thinking approach – expanding also into new verticals and rolling out rezio (KKday’s all-in-one SaaS solution to manage bookings and inventory for merchants on multiple channels).