8 UK TravelTech Startups We'll be Watching in 2019
Businesses across all industries are experiencing the pressure of changing customer expectations and behaviours. None more so than for those within the travel industry right now, as the way we travel for both business and leisure continues to change rapidly.
It has been exciting to observe the role startups are playing in how the industry is shifting and changing - and the UK boasts some of the most promising - thanks to a great startup scene alongside specialist incubator programmes, such as London + Partners' Travel Tech Lab and Hotel Jumpstart from Expedia and Hotels.com.
Looking beyond the evolution of online travel agencies and what the 'next SkyScanner' will be - here are eight businesses we're really excited about.
We think they have the potential to kickstart lasting change for the industry and for the way that we travel. Some of the big industry players agree with us, having got in early with to invest and build strategic partnerships.
Stasher (formerly CityStasher) is connecting travellers with local businesses who can store their luggage on-demand and securely from just £6 per item for up to 24 hours. Founded by a trio of super-smart Oxford grads, the idea was born when one of the friends joked he might start charging the others to leave their bags in his Kings Cross flat. With investment from Big Yellow Storage and Trivago investors, Howzat Partners - these guys are tipped to make big waves.
Their initial offering to the market was refreshingly low-tech but gained them thousands of users in over 75 countries across the world. They are moving towards becoming an 'AirBnb for luggage,' building strong relationships with host SMEs all over the world. This network alone is extremely valuable and gives huge scope to expand their offering in a number of different ways.
Vchain Technology is changing the way we experience airport travel (and beyond we're sure). Their technology removes the need to rely on one-off checks for physical documents, and instead have a seamless passenger security process from check-in to boarding.
Vchain's solution is an exciting and highly-relevant application for blockchain technology. And they are positioning themselves as leaders in AI and biometrics too - both play a key part in truly seamless authentication. British Airways owner, AIG, think so too - they took a stake in the company back in 2017.
Young travellers looking to explore the world on a budget have been going mad for Jack's Flight Club - a clever internet crawler that feeds into an email newsletter which offers instant access to the best airline deals as they come up. These deals are often 'mistake fares' and so removed within hours. But if buyers are quick they can fly for unbelievable prices.
Jack's Flight Club got going when Jack Sheldon took to Reddit to share his advice, and it proved so popular it crashed the inbox of his subscription service and swelled its membership to 45,000 savvy bargain hunters. Starting with a passionate and engaged community offers a way to build an audience that REALLY love what you do. An audience not just of loyal customers, but brand advocates.
Live2Leave is a travel app that allows users to record their favourite hotels, restaurants and activities and see recommendations from a trusted community of friends and local experts.
Launched in May 2017, the app is home to a highly-engaged and community of travellers aged between 20 and 35. They have already shared on the app +10,700 recommendations covering more than 2,600 cities in all of the world’s countries.
Live2Leave is a Techstars London 2017 company (11 startups got in, out of 1,300 applications), and one of the 5 startups (out of 240 applications) part of the Hotel Jumpstart 2018 innovation programme, powered by Expedia & Hotels.com
Firef.ly is an intelligent, personalised travel journal and guide that you build on your mobile as you travel. They're helping travelers to get the most out of each trip they make - even helping them to build memories that last.
Firef.ly have hit on something people really love. With almost no marketing spend they acquired an audience of thousands and users across 75 different countries.
DayBreakHotels offers the option to book hotel rooms, apartments and luxury services by day rather than by night. All at a fraction of the standard price. Through DayBreakHotels’ website, you can book a room for six to eight hours. They also offer services like meeting rooms, spa treatments and gym access, building personalised packages for both business and leisure travellers.
A genuine example of successful Blue Ocean Strategy - DayBreakHotels is creating a new space all of its own in the market. Their mission is to overcome the idea of hotels and motels by the hour by completely revolutionising their use. It's offering hospitality brands a channel to building and testing offerings with new target audiences - an exciting thought in this industry which is notorious for standing still and resisting innovation.
TalkTalkBnb puts people wanting to travel the world in touch with people wanting to improve skills in a foreign language of their choice. Currently completely free to use - for travellers, it’s a way to enjoy free accommodation around the world, by simply connecting with their host and chatting in their native language.
We're increasingly seeing travellers interested in local experiences rather than package tours and hotel experiences. TalkTalkbnb is offering travellers a way to access a truly local experience alongside a way to exchange value. You can see their options for growth will be huge if they go into professional skill-sharing as well. Amazing to think about how Couchsurfing could have grown if they had built in ways for travellers to give something back.
B2B start-up, Triptech, are building a direct marketing engine to improve the relevance, security and scale of direct marketing in the travel sector. The technology aims to help travel companies acquire applicable, down-the-funnel users by providing accurate, real-time prices and safe URLs.
Their ambition is to make direct marketing relevant, effective, and 10x more powerful - and they're well on their way to achieving this by the sounds of things. Looking ahead, they have their eye on the huge opportunity that lies within the Asian market.