Sangria, tapas and… a laptop

  • A new European destination for digital nomads. Sangria, tapas and… a laptop. Spain has become the latest country to offer a digital nomad visa and will allow remote workers to live and work in the country for up to five years. Digital nomads have become a trend in the travel industry (especially among millennials) having the freedom to work anywhere in the world. By the way, our team is currently working on a report focused on digital nomads and how different players from the travel industry can consider this niche audience in their business strategies. Stay tuned!
  • Higher prices, just in time for the holidays. Well, this shouldn’t come as a surprise , but The Walt Disney World is changing its pricing structure, since the parks have been using dynamic pricing for the past four years, fluctuating prices based on demand. They will now increase prices for the first time since the pandemic began, raising their prices by around 15%. ICYMI: We talked about dynamic pricing in one of our reports earlier this year, where we explored how trends were emerging in the attraction industry. You can check the full report here.
  • It’s that time of year again. Earlier this week Phocuswire announced its Hot 25 travel startups for the new year. As usual, it’s a mix of companies that are disrupting traditional travel and building innovative products and services in the travel space. We were excited to see some new names on their list such as NeoKe, who won the FutureTravel Pitch Competition just 2 weeks ago. If you’re looking for a way to expand your horizons, this list is a good start for the upcoming year.
  • Ready to fund travel business operations. Known for their booking and payments platform for the multi-day travel industry, US-based WeTravel now wants to support any eligible travel business by providing instant funding options to support their operations. For now, the one-time loan is only available for North American companies. With access to funding, travel businesses can pursue new opportunities, expand market reach, invest in critical business infrastructure, or grow their operations – and this is exactly what WeTravel wants to boost through their WeTravel Growth Capital initiative.
  • Fresh revenue for the lodging industry. The New York-based travel startup Hoken has raised $9 million to launch and run its fresh-off-the-press event-focused lodging marketplace. The startup’s vision is to provide a “highly curated and flexible hotel exchange and marketplace for the world’s most popular events.” Their initial kick-off will include events such as New Year’s Eve in Times Square, Sundance Film Festival, SXSW, Coachella and Art Basel.
  • Better customer experiences, thanks to new tech. Northumberland Zoo wants to revolutionise how they generate income — while also educating visitors. To make the customer experience better and gather important data, the zoo owners partnered with n-gage.io, who provided a platform that helps to transform audience experiences by providing a highly customizable, data insight-driven SaaS platform with an integrated mobile-web application. The zoo has a strong focus on making the right impressions on visitors and influencing their behaviour – and their latest project is no exception.
  • Simplifying travel refunds and changes. Around 10% of all passengers carried by airlines each year have their tickets either refunded or changed. To tackle this headache time consuming issue, Miami-based Deal Engine handles operations such as refunds and changing flights for airlines, online travel agencies and travel management companies. The startup has raised $5.3 million in seed funding to accelerate their engineering, product, sales and global expansion. Now the team can focus on “simplifying complex manual processes and saving millions of human hours each year” – exactly what AI is all about, right?
  • Can we do more with fewer staff? Just like everyone else in the industry, hoteliers are constantly looking for systems that allow them to get more done with less staff. Think Simplicity’s partnership with Cloudbeds will provide joint customers with streamlined, end-to-end solutions for property management and cloud communications. By integrating with Cloudbeds’ PMS solution, Think Simplicity will be able to offer its products and services to independent brand hotels.

What’s new in travel: Funding, Acquisitions & Partnerships

  • Travel app Hopper flying high with fresh $96 million raise. It seems the travel bug is still around, and as people are still itching to get away, investments in the companies making it happen are still taking off. Now, travel app Hopper, which has been showing the benefits of agility and timely-executed pivots since its 2007 launch, has raised $96 million, reaching a total raise of $740 million to date. With more than 80 million downloads and sales of flights, hotels, homes and rental cars on the platform set to exceed $4.5 billion this year, it’s one of the largest travel apps. And, if that wasn’t enough, Alexander Gevers Deynoot from the firm, joined our Summit last week.
  • Busbud and Betterez merge for smoother bus travel. Canadian travel companies Busbud and Betterez have just announced their joining forces – a bus collision that makes for good news. Busbud connects travellers and bus operators, offering more than 3 million routes worldwide whilst Betterez’s reservation system and ticket management platform is used by more than 50 bus operators in a dozen countries around the world. The idea is to enhance digitisation of ground transport, making bus travel more accessible and unlocking more route coverage on a global level. At the same time, Busbud has shared that Amadeus just invested some capital – it’s undisclosed but it’ll be interesting to see what new developments are to come.
  • Hotels out and serviced apartments in? It’s been one of the big trends in hospitality this year – it seems that more and more travellers are looking for homely experiences whilst travelling, opting for vacation rentals and apartments that also give the luxury of staying in a 5* hotel. Reflecting this trend, Munich-based limehome has just raised €45 million as it reports over the past year, occupancy rates across the portfolio, which spans 100 locations, have been sitting at 90% with high profitability.
  • TripActions snaps up Spanish player. TripActions is certainly taking action when it comes to establishing themselves on the global stage. Now, Reed & Mackay, part of the TripActions Group, has acquired Spanish corporate travel company Atlanta Events & Corporate Travel Consultants. This marks the 4th deal of its kind in 18 months for TripActions as the firm takes on the European continent.
  • Hospitality staffing needs a rethink, and the Qwick solution is looking popular. As the staffing crisis within hospitality has been laid clear, one startup thinks it has the solution, and investors are in agreement. Qwick, a staffing-as-a-service platform has just secured $40 million to scale. Its platform connects service-industry professionals directly with food and beverage shifts in real-time, provides them with the flexibility to work on their own schedules and enables them to get paid as quickly as 30 minutes after their shift – a gamechanger for the industry that could solve many of the underlying problems.
  • Wave goodbye to travel fragmentation. Hyper-personalization is the trend-de-jour in the travel world. Travellers want, and expect, to be able to customise their trip to meet their exact wants, desires and dreams. Not asking for much, right? Well South Korean startup Globaleur doesn’t think so. The traveltech company has just raised $2.5 million and set up an office in Singapore. It leverages AI solutions to solve the issue of the fragmented travel industry by connecting the end-to-end travel experience, offering a seamless travel experience to their end users while personalizing offers & itineraries. What makes it special is that it addresses travel through 3 steps – pre-flight, in-flight, and in-destination.
  • Share cars, don’t rent them, says Invygo. Car subscription startup Invygo has just raised $10 million to expand its platform that allows customers to choose, drive and swap cars at the tap of a button. Based between Dubai and Riyadh, the app operates by partnersing with third party car disruptors and rental companies, from which users can rent cars for a monthly subscription fee. It offers an interesting proposition for those who are staying for longer trips and need new ways to get around. Think of those opting for vacation rentals rather than hotels – now they might have a way to have a car as well…
  • Barcelona’s Lodgify takes home €30 million. While the appetite for vacation rentals rumbles on, those with homes to rent out have both more travellers to target and more competition in the market. Becoming successful in this space, and standing out from the crowd, relies on being heard and seen in the digital sphere, and with the digitalisation of management tools, hosts and vacation rental businesses can grow by tapping into an international market. Helping them to do this is Lodgify – and it’s had a big year of growth, now raising a fresh €30 million.

You missed the FutureTravel Summit? Here’s a recap

That’s it. Our first in-person FutureTravel Summit has wrapped up. And what an amazing event it was. We enjoyed inspiring keynotes, great conversations at the panels, and an exciting pitch competition featuring startups from across the world. Bringing different voices and perspectives from across the travel industry, the networking sessions were full of energy and lots of important connections made. 

The main goal of this year’s FutureTravel Summit was to bring together the players who are driving the travel sector forward, concerned about the future of the industry and willing to go the extra mile to stay on top of the latest innovations in the sector. The idea was to mix, make people listen to each other, talk to each other. Panels with participants from different sectors, a diverse audience and an energizing networking break. 

The “petit comitè” atmosphere of this year’s event did not keep people from actively engaging with the speakers and panelists of the event – more like the opposite. The intimate atmosphere made it possible for the audience to take an active part in the sessions that were happening on stage, and we really loved having such an engaged audience and Q&A sessions. At the same time, the networking breaks were full of life, people were very eager to get to know each other and there was such a buzz of energy.

Highlighting future industry leaders

Aside from highlighting innovations and trends pushing the travel industry forward, we also got to feature the up and coming innovators and thinkers of the sector. One of the highlights of the event was our Pitch Competition, where 10 finalists shared about their businesses in front of the audience and the jury. We received 200 applications this year and the competition was fierce!

This year’s winner was NeoKe, who took home a prize package worth €56k which includes a spot in the Scaleway Growth Program valued at €36k, $10k in Freshworks credits for their product suite, and €9,9k in credits for an explainer video maker premium account of Simpleshow

Built in Germany, NeoKe is on a mission to solve the problem of manual ID verification processes at airports, hotels, and car rentals by transitioning to digital IDs. It’s a digital world and NeoKe wants to bring this into travel, bringing the sector up to standard and removing friction for travelers. Founded in 2022, the startup connects booking platforms and travel services directly to the digital ID of a traveler for easier trip planning and booking. 

Thank you to our sponsors

The FutureTravel Summit was only possible with the support of our amazing sponsors: 

Hyatt Regency Barcelona Tower: The space that hosted this year’s event, Hyatt Regency Barcelona Tower is part of Hyatt Hotels Corporation, a leading American multinational hospitality company that has been managing and franchising luxury and business hotels, resorts, and vacation properties since 1957. As of today, Hyatt’s portfolio includes more than 1,150 hotel and all-inclusive properties in 70 countries across six continents. The hotel, designed by the prestigious British architect Richard Rogers, has a futuristic silhouette, and offers different possibilities from small to large meetings, as well as for pleasure, making it ideal for guests who wants to enjoy a luxurious treatment with personalized services that anticipates their every need.

TravelPerk: Born in Barcelona, TravelPerk is the next-generation business travel platform pioneering the future of business travel and empowering people to get together in real life. The all-in-one platform gives travellers the freedom they want whilst providing companies with the control they need – saving time, money, and hassle for everyone. TravelPerk is a traveltech unicorn and has the world’s largest travel inventory alongside powerful management features, 24/7 customer support, state-of-the-art technology and consumer-grade design, all of which are enabling companies worldwide to get the most out of their travel.

LUGGit: How often did you wonder what to do with your luggage before check-in or after check-out? LUGGit solves this for you by providing a luggage pickup, storage and delivery service. Through the mobile app or the website, you can request a Keeper (driver) to collect your luggage where you are, store it for as long as you need and deliver it back to the place and time of your choice. LUGGit has been operating in 5 European cities (Lisbon, Porto, Vienna, Prague and Barcelona), and in 2020, it was considered the 2nd Most Innovative Solution in the World by the World Tourism Organization.

Passero: Offering a visual, collaborative itinerary planner for millennial and Gen Z travellers who obsessively chase new experiences, Passero is one of the industry’s new gamechangers. Using Passero,ou can organize all your ideas in one place, make decisions faster using our custom-designed surveys, and create a shareable itinerary within minutes. Passero is launching a new community-driven marketplace where travellers can exchange ideas and stories with other like-minded travellers and receive personalized offers from relevant providers while they actively plan. Passero makes planning fun for travellers and conversion marketing affordable for travel service providers.

We are looking forward to keeping the conversation going online, and to see you at next year’s FutureTravel Summit!

Check out this amazing gallery we’ve put together of the event – if you were there maybe you can spot yourself?

Asia’s big bounce back

  • Asia’s big bounce back. Tourism revenue dropped right around the world in 2020 (we needn’t explain why) but Asia-Pacific was hit the hardest, feeling a drop of about 59%. However, the region has bounced back and is now actually looking like it’ll be the first market to recover. The region might have taken longer to open back up, but thanks to soaring numbers of travel this year, tourism’s contribution to GDP is expected to grow at an AAR of 8.5%. This is in addition to a prediction that 65% of new travel-related jobs will open up in Asia-Pacific. Find out more in this report.
  • All-in-one support for local hoteliers. The life of a small business owner in the hospitality sector isn’t an easy one. Aside from competing for space in the market, keeping up with digitalisation and crafting the very best experiences possible, there’s also a need to be at the top of your game with business savvy and market insights. To give local hoteliers a comprehensive all-in-one tool, Barcelona-based SaaS startup Amenitiz has just acquired French firm Ododo as it strengthens its position in the travel tech sector and helps users to build an online presence, take payments, craft experiences, and find educational and training tools. At the same time, the travel innovators will leverage the deal to launch their very own, The Hotel Club – a multilingual training platform on which hoteliers all over the world can find concrete, didactic and practical training, completely free. In addition to the training courses, physical events will be held regularly throughout Europe.
  • Peaceful stays and peace of mind. Guest screening and insurance are big topics when it comes to short-term rentals, and providers are increasingly looking for ways to know more about their guests before they arrive in order to have some peace of mind. It’s great to see a startup actively tackling these issues. Safely has raised $12 million to accelerate growth of its solutions for short-term rentals. Founded in 2013, the US-based startup focuses on providing safe rental experiences and insurance for individual homeowners and professional property managers.
  • News about European startups in your inbox. If you are curious about the latest news, updates and insights from the wider European startup ecosystem, I strongly recommend you to check out the EU-Startups newsletter. It’s a great chance to join more than 60k subscribers in staying up to date with Europe’s startup community, as well as checking out interviews, insights into who and what is shaping the future of innovation in the region and more.
  • Blockchain news giving you the blues? I just did a quick check with Google Trends to see where the general interest in blockchain is these days, on a worldwide level. You can see the result on the image below – seems like it is the lowest it has been in the last 12 months. The world was in a blockchain craze there for a while, so this downturn is interesting to note. With that being said, it seems like tech startup Pinktada found a sweet spot and has just raised $975k to expand their blockchain-based hotel marketplace. The platform lets travellers book a specific room and then swap or sell their reservation if their plans fly off course. The Houston-based startup also lets travellers explore rooms and amenities in 3D prior to booking.
  • Empowering sustainable travel choices. Booking.com just partnered with Norway-based CHOOOSE to make it easier for everyone to make more sustainable choices when traveling. Through the partnership, the climatetech startup aims to “make information about carbon emissions more accessible and ultimately actionable for people worldwide”. They also engaged in partnerships with Amadeus, Trip.com, Heathrow and several airlines. Booking.com is one of the industry’s biggest names and has been actively pushing sustainability, so it’s really great to see how collaborative efforts like this one are pushing forward a new era of travel.
  • The reality of aviation emissions. The truth is catching flights emits carbon. We are not yet at a point where planes are carbon-free and they are a massive pollutant. We have seen great initiatives to offset this, and to make flying as sustainable as possible, but, there’s a growing concern that what we are actually seeing is greenwashing. Shedding light on the matter, and aiming to genuinely empower more sustainable travel is Oncarbon’s Jussi Ahola in this interview with Patricia from EU-Startups.
  • Happy days for Holidu. Munich-based Holidu just raised over €100 million in an oversubscribed funding round for its vacation rentals software and services. As travel bounces back and the popularity of vacation rentals jets to sky-high levels, the Munich-based startup is reaping the benefits. Its rental search engine reached more than 110 million visitors in the last 12 months and is developing a second strand of business – Bookiply. It’ll target hosts and help them to boost their online presence and get them more bookings.
  • Ready for (air)taxi and take off? Taxi’s themselves have been changing over the last couple of years. We don’t even ‘call’ a cab anymore, instead we just book instantly on an app and click a couple of buttons. But, before we know it, everything could be changing again and taxi’s might take to the sky. South Korea-based Plana has raised $8.3 million to develop its hybrid-electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft with plans to launch the first flight in 2024.
  • Jet2 bets on booming travel to continue. UK-based airline Jet2 has just ordered 35 new Airbus A320neo aircraft worth $3.9 billion at list prices, with an option to extend this to 71 aircraft. Clearly, the airline is confident that the demand for package holidays is set to continue and they want to be ready to feed that customer appetite. It’s a big move of confidence while the rest of the world looks to tighten its pockets, and it could be a move that inspires more growth in the industry.

Meet the city that has robots as guides

  • 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 Booking.com 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.

Talent crisis and flights canceled. Chaos in travel?

  • Sit back and *don’t* enjoy the flightCall it the surprise of the century, but after getting everyone’s attention earlier this year, with promises of a new ultra low cost transatlantic route, Norse Atlantic has just started cancelling its winter flights. Norse launched in the summer, largely replicating Norwegian’s business model. But now, they’ve had a hard lesson to learn – long haul leisure is largely seasonal and maintaining demand through the winter is tough going. Now the question remains: what’s next for the company?
  • Better balancing of flight demand. Taking off with $6 million, Atlanta-based Volantio is aiming to help airlines optimize their revenue and operations. The startup uses machine learning to track flight demand and encourage travellers to opt for flights that have more space available as opposed to those that are close to selling out. It gives travellers a better flight experience and also helps boost revenues – a win-win for all involved.
  • Workstream raises $60 million to lend a helping hand to the hospitality labour crisis. As hospitality businesses across the world struggle with talent shortages, hiring platform Workstream is expanding into the restaurant, hotel and retail business. The company, which aims to serve the deskless workforce, has just raised an additional $60 million. The platform automated the recruitment and onboarding process, cutting hiring time down and helping businesses better match expectations of prospective employees.
  • Booking.com joins forces to Klook to let travelers book more. As the attractions and travel experiences market becomes even more digitised and competitive, market giant Booking.com has made another strategic partnership – joining forces with Klook in Asia Pacific. As a result, the company is giving travellers access to a wider diversity of tours, attractions and experiences around the world, staying away from popular ‘must-do’ activities to niche and unusual experiences in over 1,100 destinations.
  • Hospitality sector is watching the food industryWe love to keep an eye on the latest trends, and it looks like hospitality actors should really consider food – what they’re offering, where it’s coming from, and that overarching theme of sustainability. Hospitality and food are intrinsically linked, and, due to the climate crisis, increasing global food supply problems, food insecurity and the rise of alt-protein, hospitality actors need to be paying attention.
  • Rumours running wild? Travel unicorn TripActions has found itself front and centre in business gossip last week, with rumours abound that it is heading towards an IPO. The company has remained secretive on the topic, describing current negotiations as simply another funding round, and not an IPO plan with Goldman Sachs. It seems the less we know, the more curiosity grows.
  • Partnering up to power travel growthAmadeus is joining forces with Colombian super app Rappi to grow a shared vision of frictionless travel for a new era of consumers. With its search and automation tools, Amadeus will power Rappi’s Travel service and scale the product further.
  • Towards a future of inclusive travel. We love travel and we wholeheartedly believe it should be enjoyed by and accessible to everyone – regardless of their background, orientation or beliefs. That’s why we are super excited to see that payments platform WeTravel and Queer Destinations have launched a course focused on building an inclusive travel business, addressing LGBTQ+ concerns.

Robots at the Airport

  • Robots at the airport. Aeroporto di Roma has adopted a new fully autonomous delivery robot. This means air passengers can scan a QR code to purchase F&B and retail items at the airport and get them delivered right up to the gate in a digital and completely frictionless experience. This is part of their long-term strategy, aimed at maintaining the highest levels of service and enhancing the passenger experience using technology and innovation. My favourite part: Ottonomy, the startup behind the autonomous robot, took part in ADR’s acceleration programme and has been chosen for their cutting-edge innovation.
  • Indonesia takes the funding spotlight. The Indonesia-based OTA Traveloka has secured $300 million funding to support their growth. Seems like the financing round attracted interest from some long-term capital providers, and ended up with an oversubscribed transaction. “As our business continues to accelerate while the industry emerges from the pandemic, this financing allows us an opportunity to further strengthen our balance sheet and enable us to continue to focus on our core business while also building for the future,” said Ferry Unardi, CEO and Co-founder, Traveloka.
  • Growth sprint. After raising $170 million last August and recently adding YieldPlanet to their umbrella, Guesty has now acquired two hospitality software companies: Kigo (Spain) and HiRUM (Australia). The deals are aimed to expand their global reach, increase its resources in research and development and boost product development for customers of all three platforms.
  • SAF Commitments and Investments. JetBlue reinforced their plans to transition to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) with a new agreement with Air Company, which is creating carbon-negative alcohols and fuels from carbon dioxide (CO2). JetBlue committed to buying 25 million gallons of Air Company’s sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) between 2027 and 2032. This comes right after JetBlue Ventures announced their investment into Air Company’s Series A funding round. It’s the kind of push that we like to see moving the industry forward.
  • Acquisitions opening new markets. After successfully closing 2 acquisitions across Europe just this year, Borrow A Boat is now expanding into new territories. The UK-based startup now announced the purchase of KellyBoat and is counting on their local knowledge to boost their tech platform in the United States, one of their fastest-growing markets.
  • Traveltech is taking off. Earlier this week, we announced that FutureTravel and TravelThink are joining forces. Our goal is to provide our readers with better content and industry insights, at the same time that we increase our reach (we’ll now reach over 22k subscribers!). With this new partnership, Dr. Javier González-Soria will also be joining the editorial team of FutureTravel. As you can imagine we are very excited for this milestone and for what’s ahead for our team!

Smart Destinations, Creators and Hotel-verse

  • No funding, no problem. UK-based Pluto has had a pretty out-of-this-world story. After two big crowdfunding campaigns, raising over £1.3 million and a strong community following along the way, the team found new investment drying up. So, they looked for another way to keep their travel app that helps users organise and coordinate travel plans and insurance alive – acquisition. Travel app Orbzii has just picked up the B-Corp startup. It might not have been the plan all along but it shows how sometimes we have to be agile and adapt.
  • How destinations are getting smarter. Truth is: data drives everything these days and is the underlying factor informing business decisions and processes – and now it’s making destinations ‘smarter’. Utah-based Zartico captures data regarding a visitor’s geolocation spending habits and engagement with the experience, then analyses it in combination with data from social media and CRM systems. It then gives destination operators and experience providers actionable insights on their guests to inform smarter choices. The startup has just landed $20 million to bring the tool to new markets like airports and sports venues.
  • All-in-one travel platforms are all the rage. Short-term rental platform Guesty, who raised $170 million not so long ago, has just taken over4 hotel-focused revenue and distribution platform YieldPlanet and unveiled a new Guesty Distribution Hub. A new phenomenon for the industry, it’ll act as a fully holistic hospitality distribution solution giving customers access to hundreds of hotel and short-term rental distribution channels along with integrated financial tools from one dashboard.
  • TakeMe is taking travellers to better restaurant experiences. As Japan’s tourist industry opens up once again to the world, restaurants can count on TakeMe to attract travellers. The Tokyo-based startup provides a restaurant-reservation service for international travellers – helping them find the places to enjoy good food and easily pay for it. It’s now linked millions of tourists with more than 400 restaurants across Japan and is enabling over 10k merchants to accept global payment methods. They’ve just scored $1.8 million to keep growing the dream.
  • Hotelverse is taking on hotel-verse. Spanish startup Hotelverse has just taken off with a fresh €1 million. Founded in 2021, the startup is using digital twin tech to shake up the hotel booking process. So, you can book a room and curate your stay just as you like it. The early-stage innovators are one of the finalists of this year’s Pitch Competition at our upcoming FutureTravel Summit! Got your ticket yet? It’s on November 4th in Barcelona – don’t miss out!
  • Travel in the age of the creator economy. Influencers and creators are shaping most industries – and travel is no different. Banking on the creator boom, startup Trovatrip enables influencers to plan, sell and host group travel experiences within their communities – whether it be a hike in Patagonia, yoga in Bali or yachting in southern Europe. The company has just snapped up $15 million and plans to expand to bring on even more creators. It’s only the beginning for this approach to travel!
  • It’s not deja vu, Flyr Labs has made another move. Hitting the headlines (again), Flyr Labs has just acquired Pace Revenue to extend the capabilities of its Revenue Operating System. Flyr Labs has been providing its ROS to airlines and is now taking on the hotel and accommodation market with this deal – expanding its reach in the travel industry.

A Fresh Look for Airline Shopping

  • Taxis taking the skies. United has just made another investment into a possible future mode of mobility – airborne taxis. The American firm just put $15 million into EVE Air Mobility alongside a conditional purchase agreement for 200 four-seat electric aircraft plus 200 options. It comes just one month after a $10 million deposit for Archer Aviation’s similarly sized air taxi. While the tech to make this flying taxi isn’t around just yet, there is certainly a lot of financial commitment flying around, so catching a cab could become very different very soon.
  • The making of a global hero. In a massive transaction deal, worth a total value of €82 million, Wirtualna Polska Holding has acquired Hungarian online travel agency Szallas Group. Founded in 2007, Szallas Group has been paving the way forward in CEE, pioneering booking processes in the region – ranging from accommodation to spa packages, tours and activities and more. After showing how to walk the walk, the firm has been snapped up by the brand behind Poland’s online travel and tourism services and will reach new global heights. Well done!
  • A perfect year? 12 months. 12 acquisitions. Yes, that’s right. It might seem surreal, but it’s been a busy year for Australian-based Intrepid Travel who has just taken over its 12th business this year, Joob, making it 12 in 12 months. Since 2019, the adventure travel firm has grown its range in Australia by 45% and their growth journey has been one for the memory banks.
  • Cruising emission free. From carbon emissions and plastic pollution to workers rights and enviro-social impact, cruise ship operators have had a lot of criticism. Now, one Norwegian innovator is set to change the face of the industry, introducing a emission-free fleet. Northern Xplorer plans to begin operations at the start of the 2025-26 season, capitalising on Norway’s decision to ban fossil fuel-powered ships from its world-heritage fjords. The fleet runs on a fully electric propulsion system, making them emission-free and an exciting move towards sustainable travel.
  • Global alliances made. In 2014, two exciting companies hit the travel market, one targeting Europe and the other spreading its wings in Asia. Both have become leading names in their geographies and now they’re teaming up to take on the world. Tiqets, based in Amsterdam and Klook, based in Hong Kong, have announced that they will now be sharing content across the platforms, so customers can book experiences and activities offered by each platform on either site with instant ticketing and multiple languages and payment options, giving travellers more choice and suppliers more visibility. It’s a powerful alliance of two promising companies.
  • Theme parks stay on trend. Despite doom and gloom expectations, theme parks are still a hot topic and it’s been reported that demand and spending is actually exceeding pre-pandemic levels. It’s largely part of a commitment by theme parks to constant reinvention – to introducing new attractions on the regular, to personalising the experience, and betting on return visits for special features rather than simply relying on once-in-a-lifetime travellers.
  • Airline shopping gets a fresh look.It’s been a while since airlines have been trying to ramp up retail offerings – going beyond simple souvenirs to creating enjoyable, personal shopping experiences. But, it’s something that has always felt a little half-hearted. Things are changing though, and now Flyr Labs has acquired German retailing and offer management company Pribas. It’s a deal that will see Flyr’s AI platform enable partners to personalise retail experiences and maximise revenues.

More Inclusive Cities

  • Branson bets on diversity, sustainability and customer-centricity. From boats to plans to spaceships, Sir Richard Branson is quite the travel guru. He pioneered taking a customer-centric approach to air travel and created a brand that other providers have since tried to emulate. He entered the cruise sector, and through promoting diversity, has democratised access to the luxury yacht environment. Now he is taking on the space race and is keen to advocate travel that protects the planet we live on. Richard Bransons recently did an interview with Conde Nast and shared what he’s excited about in travel at the moment.
  • Up-design to upgrade and upsell. While this summer has been an incredible season for the travel industry with hotels finding themselves completely booked out. At the same time, travellers want more out of their experience, and having room upgrades and beautiful design really does matter. Travel tech company Oaky has found that its upgrade to hotel rooms has delivered 75% more room upgrade revenue to its customers. It’s also been able to help boost revenue through upselling things like spa treatments and food and drink deals. So let it be clear, travellers want to treat themselves – personalization and aesthetics makes it happen.
  • How cities are becoming more inclusive spaces. The way cities are designed and planned is changing. Reflecting our changing societies and changing needs, cities need to adapt. Now, some of the top travel destinations are also paving the way in new perspectives to urban design, creating spaces that are more inclusive and accessible to visitors of all backgrounds. In Vienna, for example, public spaces have been redesigned from a female perspective – from wider pavements for prams to better lighting in parks and football pitches reimagined to encourage female participation. Barcelona and Paris have also gained a feminist perspective, and the cities are opening up as a result – with more bike lanes and pedestrian zones in development.
  • Getting the squad on tour has been made easier. Organising group travel is a complicated affair. One of the most challenging aspects is making sure payments are made in a way that is fair and accessible to everyone involved, and for when the friendship group is ganging together for a getaway, there’s always one unfortunate soul who has taken the task on board. At the same time, group travel is soaring in popularity amongst the millennial generation of adventure seekers. SquadTrip is aiming to fill the gap. The startup has just launched a platform that will help travel professionals target millennial travellers by offering flexi payment options – including payment instalments, apple pay and promo codes – all in one easy-to-use platform. So it’s never been easier to get the squad together!
  • Hospitality continues to digitalise. The hospitality sector is running fast down the digitalisation track. One big trend is increased digitalisation of ordering and payment systems, giving consumers a mobile-based experience and the restaurant/hotel clearer real-time oversight. Manchester-based wi-Q has developed a platform – called Dash – that hospitality venues can use to manage food and beverage orders in real time, customers can also use it to order and pay via their mobile. It all helps speed up order management, prep and delivery – enhancing the experience for all and meeting new consumer habits and demands. The startup just raised £3 million.
  • Harnessing AI to make booking and planning travel smoother. As travel companies hunt for ways to make travel and tourism simple and easy for travelers, AI-based tech is in demand. Lithuanian-based startup Eddy Travels has been helping consumers find cheap travel deals with its AI travel assistant. It’s just been snapped up by global digital travel marketplace TripAdd as they move to enhance their offering with even more consumer-centricity. Eddy Travels took part in last year’s FutureTravel Summit Pitch Competition – so what does the future hold for this year’s participants?
  • Startup and corporate collabs to enhance traveller experience. One of the biggest trends de jour in the travel industry is, of course, the move towards consumer centricity and personalisation. Startups are the ones leading tech development on this, bringing innovations that allow for hyper-personalization. Today, travel titan American Airlines have announced a new partnership with Spotnana – a Travel-as-a-Service platform – that will allow travellers enhanced booking flexibility and a more seamless and tailored experience.