Meet Andrea D’Amico, CEO of WeRoad, at FutureTravel Summit 2024

We are thrilled to announce that Andrea D’Amico, CEO of WeRoad, will be joining us as a speaker at the FutureTravel Summit 2024!

Andrea D’Amico brings over 20 years of experience in the online travel industry, where he has managed large teams across various stages and geographies. He joined WeRoad in April 2022 as CEO, following a successful career at Booking.com, where he served as Vice President and Managing Director for the EMEA region.

Founded in 2017, WeRoad is known for its innovative approach to group adventure travel. As a community of travellers passionate about exploration and cultural immersion, WeRoad designs tours tailored to the interests and lifestyles of its customers, providing them with unforgettable experiences and fostering meaningful connections.

Join us at the FutureTravel Summit to gain valuable insights from Andrea D’Amico and other industry leaders. Connect with over 450 travel executives, startups, investors, and corporates who are shaping the future of travel. Secure your ticket today!

No Booze, No Problem: Sober Tourism on the Rise

People often think of drinking alcohol when it comes to having fun, going to parties, and enjoying good food. This cultural habit has been a big part of business and markets around the world for many years.

In recent years, a global trend has emerged that challenges this long-standing tradition. Like a New Year’s resolution, Dry January consists of not drinking for the entire month of January. The campaign was launched in 2013 by Alcohol Change UK, a British organization focused on reducing harm caused by alcohol. In a nutshell, it aims to reduce alcohol consumption to start the year healthier.

Connecting this specific trend to a broader movement, we see the rise of sober tourism and “dry-tripping.” More and more people are abandoning alcohol to prioritize a healthier lifestyle, well-being, or simply as a personal choice. Also during their travels.

Sober tourism: Unfolding the trend

Sober tourism is an emerging trend that offers alcohol-free tourism experiences, catering to an audience seeking a healthy and conscious lifestyle. This niche is growing in popularity, especially among those who wish to avoid drinking alcohol for reasons of health, well-being, or personal choices.

There is an increasing number of adults worldwide becoming ‘sober curious’. These are not people in recovery or who have an addiction problem, but simply those re-examining their relationship with alcohol.

John Holmes, professor of alcohol policy at the University of Sheffield, in an interview for SCMP.

A major driver of the sober tourism and “dry-tripping” trend is the noticeable decline in alcohol consumption among younger generations. Gen-Z drinks on average 20% less than Millennials, who also consume less than the previous generation, primarily due to increased awareness of the dangers and effects of alcohol and the rise of health consciousness as a lifestyle. An overwhelming 86% of Gen-Z consumers believe that their mental health is as significant as their physical health when considering drinking alcohol. This shift in attitudes towards alcohol is reshaping market demands and driving the growth of alcohol-free experiences.

Does less alcohol consumption put businesses in danger?

Only about 38% of young adults are regular drinkers, according to analytics company Gallup.

Source: Euronews

Alcohol consumption was already reducing among age groups, especially younger generations; and this impacts businesses too. What is perceived is a significant change in values between those already established and those that are under construction and solidification, making “Dry January” more than a specific trend and transforming it into a global and perennial movement. It’s not just in January; it’s all year round.

Our opportunity here is to understand: how can travel businesses adapt to this new audience and develop products and services that fit into their lives.

With the increasing popularity of sober tourism, various platforms and agencies are now curating events, retreats, and tour packages that emphasize a healthy and mindful lifestyle. These experiences are designed to foster well-being, social connections, and personal growth, offering a diverse range of options from alcohol-free gatherings to wellness-focused retreats.

Additionally, several travel companies and airlines are enhancing their services to include excellent mocktail options, ensuring that travelers who prefer an alcohol-free lifestyle can still enjoy a sophisticated and inclusive experience. This shift in service offerings is helping to redefine what fun and relaxation mean in the context of travel and tourism.

Innovative companies are leading this movement by offering unique and welcoming experiences for travelers who prefer an alcohol-free lifestyle. Traditional companies are also beginning to understand their role. These initiatives not only meet growing demand but also help redefine what fun and relaxation mean in the context of travel and tourism.

Renewal of perspectives for excellent service to a new audience

Is there someone already following this movement, making this trend a practice in their business, observing the public, and coming on board with new ideas and inspiration? Yes! And they emphasize activities and experiences that promote physical and mental health in some way, and we highlight two interesting approaches:

  • Community and social connection: Many of these initiatives create spaces and events that encourage genuine connection and community building. We already know that nurturing communities with common interests is effective. Is it possible to implement something similar in your business?
  • Personalization and flexibility: Personalizing a service, product, or experience tends to win over the public. People want to feel special and seen. Offering customization and ongoing support to meet customers’ specific needs is one way to achieve this.

Sober tourism is gaining momentum as a significant trend in the tourism sector, reflecting a shift in consumer preferences towards a healthier and more conscious lifestyle. Companies that can adapt their offerings to meet this demand will be well-positioned to attract a growing and diverse audience, especially in Europe where awareness of health and wellness is on the rise.

Pitch Competition applications for this year’s FutureTravel Summit are now open!

We are excited to announce that applications for this year’s Pitch Competition are now open. The fourth edition of the FutureTravel Summit will happen in Barcelona on November 28th.

This exclusive event will gather around 450 travel innovators, startups, investors, and executives from around the world. With the vibrant city of Barcelona as the backdrop, renowned for its deep-rooted travel and tourism culture, the FutureTravel Summit offers a premier venue for travel professionals to meet in person, share insights, discuss business strategies, and identify global trends shaping the travel industry.

The Pitch Competition

This competition will provide an invaluable opportunity for early-stage travel startups eager to make a mark in the travel industry to present their innovative solutions and ideas in front of a prestigious panel of venture capital investors, industry leaders, and influential figures in the travel sector.

We are looking for 10 early-stage startups:

  • Focused on travel and/or hospitality
  • Pre-seed or seed stage
  • Not older than 3 years

Sounds like you? To participate in the pitch competition, please submit your application here. Don’t miss this opportunity to take your travel startup to the next level. You have until July 31st to submit your application.

What’s in it for you?

Besides gaining invaluable exposure and feedback from industry experts. The winning startup team of the FutureTravel Pitch Competition will receive a prize package with a value of around €330K that includes the following:

  • Up to $350,000 Google Cloud credits, including 1 year of free Google Workspace for new signups in the Startup Program, fast-tracked support from a dedicated Startup Success Manager at Google, technical support, and co-marketing.
  • €9.9k of credits for an explainer video maker account of simpleshow
  • €2k worth Exhibition Booth at the EU-Startups Summit 2025, including 3 event tickets
  • €2.2k in 1 year Guru Plan for SEMrush, which gives you access to their SEO and online visibility management SaaS platform

The winner will also be proudly mentioned in the FutureTravel Newsletter, and prominently featured by EU-Startups and other publications.

The Jury

The selected teams will receive valuable feedback from a jury of well-known venture capital investors, including:

Participating in this competition offers startups a unique opportunity to gain insights from leading figures in the venture capital community, which can be instrumental in refining their business strategies and achieving growth!

Startup Helps Earn Free Vacations

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Let’s catch up on this week’s top innovations, trends, and startup highlights:

  • Flight + Hotel packages… plus tours. Lastminute.com has partnered with TUI Musement to offer tours and activities as add-ons to flight-plus-hotel packages in over 100 countries. While this partnership boosts TUI Musement’s distribution, for Lastminute.com it means offering more dynamic holiday packages for its customers.
  • Turning rewards into free vacation. Singapore-based loyalty platform Heymax.ai just raised $2.6 million in seed funding. The platform helps users to make the most of their credit card and merchant rewards, aiming to give people a free vacation each year. Currently counting on 50,000 users, they’ve already redeemed over 10,000 flights – and counting.
  • DIY ski holiday packages. Bristol-based Heidi has raised €6.6 million to grow its platform and expand its services. Founded in 2018, this online ski travel company offers over 6,000 accommodations in 400+ ski resorts, making it easy to book group holidays, lift passes, and ski hire. With this investment, Heidi aims to bring more flexible and comprehensive booking options to travelers hitting the slopes.
  • Cutting out the middlemen. Directo, a Spanish startup making direct hotel bookings easier, raised $1 million in pre-seed funding. Launched in February 2023, the startup offers a Chrome extension that flags direct booking options on sites like Booking.com and Airbnb. It cuts out the middlemen and can help travelers save money and boosts direct sales for hosts – a potential shake up for the sector…
  • Dynamic solutions for airline pricing. FlyNava Technologies has secured $2.5 million in pre-series A funding from Ideaspring Capital. FlyNava uses AI to provide real-time, dynamic pricing to airlines, helping them optimize fares and increase efficiency and profits. This funding will help the startup to expand into new markets, develop new products, and enhance their tech infrastructure, aiming to offer tailored solutions to improve airline operations.

Major Shake-up for Short-term Rentals ⚡︎

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Let’s go directly to our curation of the top news in innovation, trends, and startups for the week:

  • A hiccup for short term rental. Barcelona plans to ban all short-term rentals for tourists by late 2028 to address the housing shortage and rising rental prices. Mayor Jaume Collboni says this decision was made to increase affordable housing and curb illegal rentals. Starting November 2028, no new licenses will be issued and existing ones will be revoked, impacting over 10,000 properties, significantly affecting the travel industry. Ouch.
  • Better listing positions. Belgium-based OTA ranking management platform Otamiser raised $3 million in its initial funding round led by Pitchdrive VC. The funds will support Otamiser’s expansion to 1,000 hotels and 100,000 short-term rentals worldwide. By optimizing OTA rankings and pricing, Otamiser boosts occupancy rates by 11% and profits by 24%. This significantly enhances revenue and competitiveness by ensuring properties maximize their visibility and booking potential on major platforms.
  • Fair fares for all. AI-driven market engine for airlines Fetcherr closed a $90 million Series B funding round. They help airlines like Virgin Atlantic and Azul set perfect prices to boost revenue by optimizing fare structures based on market data. This new cash will also fuel their expansion beyond the travel industry.
  • Exploring market needs and rates. Lighthouse, the company that focuses on helping hotels and short-term rentals analyze market demand and rates, just bought Berlin-based HQ Revenue. Lighthouse, previously known as OTA Insight, has raised over $100M and serves 65,000 hoteliers globally. By bringing in top-notch teams, Lighthouse wants to boost their tech and use data to optimize hotel and rental revenue and performance.
  • Where investments are flowing. Powered by Lufthansa Innovation Hub, TNMT just published their latest “Travel and Mobility Sector Attractiveness Report”. It provides a clear overview of major priorities and investment strategies from 2018 to 2023 across aviation, ground transport, hospitality, and online travel. The research shows interesting insights on where investments went and which startups gained funding.
  • Bedbugs party in Paris. Remember a few months ago when everyone was freaking out about bedbugs in Paris? Well, there’s a startup fighting back, and they just scored €4M to expand their chemical-free bedbug safety tech. Valpas’ cool bed legs keep rooms bedbug-free, making guests super happy. With over 300 hotel partners, they’re taking on a huge industry problem and aiming for a future with no bedbugs and no pesticides in hospitality
  • Transforming railway operations. In their latest podcast episode, EU-Startups chats with Andreas Loy, Co-founder and CEO of KONUX, a German AI scale-up revolutionizing railway operations with predictive maintenance and timetable optimization. KONUX has raised $130M and expanded to ten European countries. This episode has some good insights on improving rail travel reliability and efficiency.

Netflix In-Person Interactive Experiences

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Let’s catch up on the top travel news in innovation, trends, and startups for the week:

  • Shaking up business travel. TravelPerk, the fast-growing travel tech unicorn, just acquired Chicago-based AmTrav, making the U.S. its top revenue region. This move adds 1,000 new SMB clients and doubles their US revenue. Backed by a $135M credit facility from Blackstone and Blue Owl, TravelPerk is set to expand even more in the US and Europe. And just in time, we’re thrilled to announce that this year TravelPerk CEO Avi Meir will be speaking at our FutureTravel Summit! We are super excited to have him joining us on stage!
  • Taking TV shows to real-world hangouts. Netflix is opening “Netflix House” in major US malls, including locations in Dallas and Pennsylvania, creating immersive retail spaces themed around hit shows like “Bridgerton” and “Squid Game.” Visitors can enjoy interactive experiences, themed food and drinks, and unique retail therapy. This strategy capitalizes on Netflix’s massive fanbase, similar to Disney, turning their popular content into physical attractions. With high foot traffic and proximity to major cities, these locations aim to keep fans engaged beyond the screen.
  • Young travelers want to just show up and go. Travel agents are making a comeback as Gen Zers and millennials find them easy and cost-effective. With 76% of agents busier in 2021 than pre-pandemic, younger travelers prefer curated, hassle-free trips. In 2023, 38% of them used travel agents. This global trend boosts the travel industry, driving demand for unique and sustainable travel experiences and increasing overall spending.
  • Growing revenue, still chasing profits. Short-term rental provider Sonder announces a significant reduction in its portfolio, exiting or reducing rents in 105 buildings to optimize costs and improve cash flow. The company has already agreed to exit 80 buildings and aims for a $40M annual cash flow improvement. Additionally, Sonder raised $10M in financing to boost liquidity. Although the efforts towards increasing revenue, profitability it’s still a challenge.
  • Easier booking for hotels. HotelREZ and Apaleo have integrated their systems, enabling seamless data exchange for independent hotels. This connection allows hoteliers to optimize booking costs by managing inventory, rates, and availability in real-time. The partnership enhances efficiency, reduces staff workload, and maximizes market opportunities, benefiting Apaleo customers with access to HotelREZ’s global demand programs and travel agency networks.

Welcoming Avi Meir, CEO of TravelPerk, to FutureTravel Summit 2024

We’re excited to announce that Avi Meir, Co-founder and CEO of Barcelona-based unicorn TravelPerk, will be speaking at the FutureTravel Summit 2024!

Since its founding in 2015, TravelPerk has become a leader in the business travel market with its next-gen, all-in-one platform. It gives travelers the freedom they want while providing companies with the oversight and control they need. In January 2022, TravelPerk hit unicorn status after a massive €101 million funding boost.

Avi Meir is a well-respected personality in travel, known for his deep expertise. Before TravelPerk, he founded “Hotel Ninjas,” a web-based management software for hotels, which was acquired by Booking.com just two years later.

Join us at the FutureTravel Summit to hear great insights from Avi Meir and other industry leaders. Connect with over 450 travel executives, startups, investors, and corporates who are shaping the future of travel.

Partnership for Better Travel Insurance

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Here’s your weekly roundup of the latest trends, innovations, and startup news in travel:

  • Tailored digital guides for guests. Barcelona-based Identify Travel has secured €400,000 to enhance its technological solutions for tourism. The company provides digital destination guides and gamified travel experiences that help diversify tourist traffic and improve guest loyalty in accommodations. This investment will enable the startup to expand its innovative services to more regions, including Spain, Portugal, the UK, and Morocco, emphasizing cultural tourism and reducing overcrowding in popular areas.
  • Travel insurance, but with a twist. Europe’s second-largest neobank, bunq has teamed up with insurtech leader Qover to redefine travel insurance across 7 global markets. Through bunq’s app, travelers can get hassle-free activation and a swift claims process, emphasizing ease and transparency. This collaboration between a fintech and an insurtech to introduce travel products highlights an interesting shift – possibly setting new benchmarks for travel insurance solutions and broadening the scope of what’s possible in travel tech.
  • DACH just got a hospitality boost. Recently achieving unicorn status, Mews has just announced the acquisition of HS3 Hotelsoftware, significantly enhancing its presence in Germany. This strategic acquisition brings over 3,500 customers to Mews and supports its expansion in the cloud-based hotel management sector, where it now manages more than 30,000 beds in the DACH region. This acquisition is set to advance hospitality management in Germany, keeping pace with the sector’s increasing focus on automation and technological innovation.
  • European countryside escapes. Munich-based Holidu is expanding its presence in the tourism sector by acquiring Spanish portal Clubrural. This acquisition integrates Clubrural’s 28,000 rural properties across Spain and Portugal into Holidu’s platform, enhancing offerings for both hosts and guests. The addition of Clubrural promises a wider international reach and modernized service capabilities, strengthening Holidu’s position in the European market and supporting growth in rural vacation rentals.
  • Google’s effect on travel dynamics. At Google I/O yesterday, the company announced the latest updates to Gemini AI. If you are wondering about its potential impact on the travel industry, Travel and Tour World provided some insights into how it can revolutionize travel planning, mentioning its personalized recommendations, integrated itinerary management, seamless booking experience, cost optimization features, and 24/7 travel assistance. The updates will bring significant challenges for traditional travel operators by offering streamlined itinerary management and booking – creating new ways to plan and experience travel experiences.

🌱 Fresh Funds, Partnerships & Mobility Startups

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Here’s your weekly roundup of the latest trends, innovations, and startup news in travel:

  • Boosting the things people like to do. Holibob secures new funding to enhance its eCommerce engine for travel experiences. The UK-based company helps destinations and travel brands sell experiences online with its advanced technology. The platform provides hyper-relevant recommendations to travelers, resulting in strong engagement and increased bookings. The company aims to further develop their solutions, making it easier for travelers to find and book the best in-destination experiences.
  • Remixing spaces. Tokyo-based Matsuri Technologies secures $8.65 million in Series D funding to boost its StayX platform and expand tourism infrastructure. The company converts single-use rooms into multi-use spaces. The funds will enhance software, expand facilities, and recruit talent, capitalizing on Japan’s tourism surge. Japan’s tourism industry is experiencing a robust recovery, with inbound visitors reaching 25 million in 2023, nearing pre-pandemic levels. This revival also benefits the private accommodation sector.
  • Departure deals. In a joint-effort, Wizz Air launched an e-commerce store powered by InterLnkd’s intelligent matching engine. This platform matches destinations with relevant fashion, beauty, and essential products for passengers, offering a personalized shopping experience with items from over 20,000 brands, including M&S, Sephora, and Asos. This launch follows InterLnkd’s recent funding round and new partnerships with travel brands like Thomas Cook and LeShuttle.
  • Top mobility startups. Mobility in Europe is transforming with a push for sustainable transport. As travel and transportation sectors converge, startups are at the forefront, leveraging tech to create eco-friendly options. Electric car registrations hit 3.2 million in 2023, a 20% rise from 2022. Trends like shared mobility, autonomous driving, and AI integration are reshaping how we move, so the EU-Startups team is spotlighting 10 European startups leading this change.
  • Do you know an extraordinary business leader who deserves recognition? Our Partners Airwallex, in collaboration with Visa, are looking for extraordinary leaders who demonstrate the Olympic spirit. Why? Nominate them and give them a chance to win tickets to the Olympic Games Paris 2024, courtesy of Visa! The winner will receive a trip to the Olympic Games for themselves and 4 guests, travel and accommodation and more! To nominate someone (or yourself), simply visit the link below and share their story. Nominations close on 21 June at 12:00 so don’t miss out and apply today! We can’t wait to hear about all the inspiring leaders out there!
  • Rewriting hospitality. San Francisco-based Canary Technologies raised $50 million in funding, bringing their total to nearly $100 million. The US-based company provides AI solutions to thousands of hotels including major brands like Marriott and Hilton. Their tech streamlines hotel operations, enhances guest experiences, and reduces fraud. The new funds will help the startup to improve their AI capabilities and expand their team.

City Introduces Robotaxis

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Here is your weekly overview of the top news on innovation, trends and startups:

  • The experts in luggage storage. Dealing with guests’ luggage can be a headache for hotels, but it doesn’t have to be this way. LuggageHero, a leading provider of on-demand luggage storage since 2016, has launched HotelsHero to bring its expertise to the hotel industry. This time-saving, no-cost service helps hotels of all sizes seamlessly store luggage without needing extra space or lockers. Hotels can choose to handle storage themselves or allow guests to store their own luggage. Additionally, hotels can decide whether to offer luggage storage for free or add a handling fee.
  • Guiding travelers on public transport. Marseille-based startup Qommute, which specializes in real-time traveler info, just raised 2.4 million euros to speed up its expansion in Europe. Founded in 2013, Qommute aims to become the top player in Europe by teaming up with major operators. Their tech delivers reliable, instant info, making public transport more appealing. In France, they already support 70 transport networks and seems that they are talking to several European operators.
  • A grand slam of deals. Focusing on selling travel packages by automating production, booking processes, and managing marketing data, the French group Travelsoft, has announced three new acquisitions in a single week: TravelgateXATCORE Technology, and Travel Connection Technology. These acquisitions elevate Travelsoft’s status as a global player in technology solutions for the leisure travel industry, with its technology now processing transactions worth €35 billion annually.
  • Compensating messy flights. London-based travel paytech Swiipr raises €7 million to transform airline disruption payments. Swiipr’s digital platform improves passenger experience and reduces airline costs by up to 60% by replacing outdated compensation methods with instant, secure digital payouts, reducing fraud, processing time, and handling costs. Founded in 2020, Swiipr benefits 26 airlines across 70 countries, addressing a major industry pain point.
  • Robotaxis and roboguides. It seems that San Francisco has added a new ingredient to its tourism mix: robotaxis. Tourists are increasingly citing robotaxi rides as a key reason for visiting the city. Despite their controversial reputation among residents, the influx of tourists eager to experience robotaxis could help secure continued support for the technology’s public trials and drive its expansion to new locations.
  • Starlink-powered flights. Qatar Airways is set introduce free high-speed wi-fi through SpaceX’s Starlink, joining Hawaiian Airlines, AirBaltic, and Air New Zealand in offering this service. The first flights with Starlink are expected by the end of the year. The first 777s will feature Starlink by late 2024, with the entire fleet equipped within two years. A nice perk for their passengers 🙂

Here are a few that caught my attention: