The mistake that many travel startups make is catering to the consumers rather than the businesses that actually make a travel experience what it is. These startups have their focus in the right place.
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>> HotelUpgrade leverages upgrades to incentivize guests to directly on hotels’ brand websites. Individual hotels will offer custom upgrades including free Internet, parking, loyalty points, or meals to guests based on the number of nights they book.
SkiftTake: Driving direct bookings is one of the major challenges for hotel brands today whose profits have been diluted through online booking sites. ROI from direct bookings outweighs the cost of a perk, but it will be difficult to motivate consumers to change their habits.
>> Essential Mobi rents handheld device that serve as wireless routers and phone chargers to travelers. The small devices connect to a 3G/4G network and distribute a Wi-Fi signal strong enough for up to 9 devices.
SkiftTake: Mobile phones are the number navigation, recommendation and communication tool of travelers today, but they become useless the moment they die and significantly helpful without service. Any device that keeps them charged and connected at an affordable price is worth bringing to market.
>> UMapped is a trip planning tool designed to keep all aspects of a users’ trip in one place. The app can be used by consumers planning a personal trip or a travel agent to engage clients in the trip planning process. Travel professionals can create itineraries and templates, store vendor data and documents, and encourage clients to share their itineraries via social media.
SkiftTake: Although it is unlikely to gain traction among consumers, travel agents are currently underserved with new technology giving an easy-to-use, well-designed platform the opportunity to quickly gain a following.
>> HotelPower is a new hotel deals site launched by parent company and travel agency GTI that claims to offer rates between 25 percent and 70 percent off the standard price. The site runs on a membership basis, which for $50 a year includes credit for meals and spa treatments with each booking.
SkiftTake: It appears that what guests gain in terms of discounts and coupons, they must first concede in order to become members.
>> Humanity.TV is a new travel series that highlights a country through 12 short documentaries, photo essays, experiential videos, and soundscapes. The bi-monthly series was built specifically for iPads. it has released its first issue on Iceland and plans to release the next series on Israel, Albania, and Scotland.
SkiftTake: The Internet has democratized travel content giving anyone with a camera phone or Internet connection the ability to review a hotel, suggest a destination, or tell a local’s story. Taking that independent attitude and turning it into a polished product will gain a following, however small.