Meet the city that has robots as guides

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We are ready to head straight to our weekly curation of the top news on travel innovation, trends and startups. Here we go:

  • Budapest tourism to be fueled by AI. AI is increasingly shaping the travel and tourism space, and now the city of Budapest is getting involved. Budapest Brand has partnered with The Trip Boutique to give travellers a more personalised stay in the city, offering tailored itineraries that match visitors interests, styles and tastes – all available free of charge. By embedding The Trip Boutique’s solution into its website, Budapest is opening itself up to a new era of travel and tourism and setting the trend for other cities to follow suit.
  • HolidayHero raises €500k to build travel loyalty. When looking for a place to stay, travellers are really spoiled for choice. With household names like Airbnb and giving travellers an array of lodging options at the click of a button, hosts and hoteliers need to find new ways to secure loyalty and increase repeat businesses. Helping them do just that is HolidayHero, a Dutch startup on a mission to empower stay-providers around the world to exceed guest expectations with its booking app that enables hyper-personalization. The startup has now raised a fresh €500k to expand.
  • Tourism is an industry, travelling is a lifestyle. Let me tell you something: travel really is something unique. As they say – it’s one of the few things that we spend money on and yet become richer. Truth is the way we recount our travel experiences has changed exponentially. While travel was traditionally about discovery and exploration – it’s now a commercialised experience and with commercialization comes competition. The problem with this commercialization is that it can come hand-in-hand with exploitation, right? It’s up to the travel industry to remember the inherent beauty of travel, and create sustainable, educational ways for consumers to enjoy it. This article really called our attention by shedding interesting reflections on the topic. And hey, this concept of innovation and sustainability will take centre stage at the upcoming FutureTravel Summit, so make sure you join us there for this pertinent conversation about the dichotomy between travel and tourism. We are ready!
  • Bob W strengthens market reach. Tech-driven hospitality startup Bob W is ramping up its European reach with another strategic acquisition. The Helsinki-based company has just snapped up Nordic competitor KOTI Hotel, expanding its offering of modern alternatives for short-stays. The startup aims to cater to the needs of the modern traveller who want both the quality of a hotel and the authenticity of a short-term rental, and it’s been defining itself as the key player in the market through strategic acquisitions in the Nordics.
  • Fueling local economies tourism revenue, RootRez raises $1.8 million. Founded in 2015, RootRez provides destination tourism organisations with a fully customizable white-label booking engine to help drive local economic demand. Now serving cities across North America, the startup has picked up fresh funding and aims to expand further in the region. Its e-commerce solution layers localised promotions and packages for travellers combined with hotelier business alignment, helping both boost revenue and data insights.
  • Reality hits Captain Kirk. Last October, William Shatner went to space with Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. Different from what I’d expect from a space trip, the actor, known for portraying Captain Kirk in Star Trek, has shared that he experienced profound sadness in seeing the earth whilst amongst the stars. The experience has left a lasting impact on him – and apart from making us sit back and reflect on the reality of destruction on earth, it’s probably not the best marketing for the space travel we are all meant to be super excited for. Here is some of what he had to say: “My trip to space was supposed to be a celebration; instead, it felt like a funeral. It was among the strongest feelings of grief I have ever encountered. The contrast between the vicious coldness of space and the warm nurturing of Earth below filled me with overwhelming sadness. I love the mystery of the universe, all of that has thrilled me for years… but when I looked in the opposite direction, into space, there was no mystery, no majestic awe to behold… all I saw was death.”
  • Airports facing a new threat. We talk a lot about bringing more tech to the travel industry and the many opportunities that the digital have for the market. But we often don’t talk about security issues. In times of war, spaces and places become a target – like has just been the case of the security of US airports. Cybersecurity is a big topic right now, with new tech to keep us safe and prevent hackers urgently needed, and with the capability to constantly evolve. The world is at a tense place right now, and airports are becoming a target – which will have colossal consequences on economic, political and societal levels.
  • I guess the rumours were just… rumours? As travel agency TripActions was a hot topic of gossip recently, with talk of an upcoming IPO, the firm has just revealed that it has raised over $300 million and hit a valuation of $9.2 billion. So – it looks like the rumours were exactly that, just rumours, and all the cryptic tweets were just hype building. We love a bit of hype and they are certainly one of today’s big change makers so you can expect us (and everyone else really) to keep a close eye on what’s to come.
  • Booked It Group snaps up more travel business. Booking management and marketing firm has been making moves into the travel industry, and now it has made another acquisition. The company is consolidating its place in the sector through making strategic deals, this latest one taking over More Life VIP gives the brand influence in luxury travel and comes 6 months after they bought Party Hard Travel, which delivered 10,000 bookings in less than three months last summer. The More Life VIP acquisition will see Booked it Group expand into the travel industry by using the luxury brand’s media side and associations with influencers. Previous campaigns have included campaigns with hotspots like Ushuaïa Ibiza Beach Hotel, Nobu Marbella and Calista Luxury Resort in Turkey.
  • Travel, fun and experiences: the Travello trifecta. The Australian startup that specialises in youth travel experiences, Travello, has just raised €6.5 million in its Series B funding rounds, enabling it to take advantage of the resurgence of demand for travel experiences. While many youth-travel-orientated brands didn’t make it through the pandemic, Travello is finding itself enjoying impressive growth and able to capture a large proportion of the market share. Young travellers are after adventure, the discovery of new experiences, and to have it all digitally accessible – and this is exactly what Travello are offering.