Changing anything at a major travel brand takes time and lots of it. Some travelers don’t have that or don’t realize that booking technology, for example, isn’t optimized to solve the problems they run into when planning travel.
This week’s five startups empower travelers to use booking technology in ways major brands haven’t adopted but that make sense to the 21st century traveler. Comparing hotels side by side in one browser tab, trading hotel reservations directly with other travelers to avoid cancellation fees or renting cars from locals after leaving an airport. Sure, helping travelers make booking decisions faster is always ideal for brands. But with some of these models travelers will also feel more confident with their choices, whether they know for certain that the room block they chose is the best deal in a city or that the hotel they chose from three top choices is definitely the closest to that early morning meeting.
>>RoomBlocker lets event planners post details about their event and guests and get quotes for room blocks from hotels. Event planners can then send invites to their guests to join a room block.
SkiftTake: Anyone planning an event understands how the hotel selection has to be on point or else that’s one reason for guests to put off buying tickets or coming to the event. It’s also hard to find available room blocks in busy markets and RoomBlocker basically does that work for you.
>>SmartDepart lets travelers compare hotels side by side including room rate and amenities. Travelers choose their destination and can then drag and drop hotel names into columns for easy comparison.
SkiftTake: This is great for desktop and probably not ideal for mobile. SmartDepart cuts down on multiple browser tabs and can probably help travelers make booking decisions faster and feel confident about them.
>>TradeOnRoom lets traveler sell or trade their hotel booking with other travelers if their travel plans change.
SkiftTake: This could help hotels in markets that typically see high rates of last minute cancellations. Major chains like Hilton are testing new cancel fees because of how pervasive guest cancellations have become. If a solution like TradeOnRoom could somehow get integrated into a hotel’s app it could be a win-win for everyone.
>>InstaCar is a mobile app letting travelers rent cars from car owners in their destinations.
SkiftTake: Part of InstaCar’s model, and that of other peer-to-peer car rental startups, is taking the airport queue for renting cars out of the equation. A big rental car brand like Avis Budget understands this as the company this week said it’ll soon launch self-service rentals. This is what business travelers and any travelers trying to leave the airport as soon as possible want. Still, can a new entrant like InstaCar compete with the likes of legacy players and Uber on top of them?
>>Climb lets business travelers connect their LinkedIn accounts to their flight reservations so they can meet and network with other business travelers on their flight.
SkiftTake: You see it happen on every flight–curious travelers making small talk with others around them. Wondering who they share an aisle with, where people are going and what their backgrounds are. Most business travelers likely have their own work to do or want to decompress before they land and tackle their meetings. But it’s still interesting to know who else is on your flight even if you don’t want to spark a conversation with them in-flight. Carriers have to get on board with this, though, if Climb has any hope of business travelers noticing it.
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