Last week we had a flurry of coverage from hospitality conferences that highlighted how divided the travel industry remains about the sharing economy, direct bookings, and loyalty to name a few of the biggest topics of conversation.
For this week’s startup roundup, we decided to look at five companies riding on the backs of these debates that have lessons to teach the industry as a whole, even if the startups themselves don’t last in the long-term. These companies have built their businesses on the future of artificial intelligence, short-term rental experiences, co-living, and the hope that more consumers turn to the boutique hotel-type stay.
Hostfully helps short-term rental hosts create digital guidebooks for their guests.
>>SkiftTake: Plenty of Airbnb hosts don’t have interest in holding their guests’ hands and simply aren’t interested in being local guides or don’t have time to help guests. That’s much to the contrary of what Airbnb and other short term rental sites stand for.
But many hosts would still love a feature like this, and it’s important that guidebooks integrate with Airbnb or another site’s platform so that the user experience is more simplified. Hotels could also get in on these guidebooks as virtually every chain wants to be neighborhood experts.
GoHero is a travel concierge platform using artificial intelligence that integrates with various messaging apps to help travelers book and plan travel.
>>SkiftTake: It’s now possible to talk to your travel agent 24 hours a day with new travel agent startups like Lola, for example, that rethink the role and positioning of the travel agent. But it’s only a matter of time before major online travel agencies and traditional travel agents launch similar products to stay relevant.
ReStation hosts travelers on co-living and co-working retreats around the world.
>>SkiftTake: Hotels could take many pages out of the book of co-living. Right now the the focus with most brands is on bringing community back to the common areas of a hotel. All while guests remain segregated in their rooms. We’re not saying that every hotel will eventually create more communal living spaces, but we certainly feel there is more momentum than ever behind this idea.
AwardAce helps travelers look up redemption rates for miles on several global airlines. It also explains which credit card programs transfer to which frequent flyer programs.
>>SkiftTake: The airline industry, with the three legacy U.S. carriers as prime examples, has moved towards measuring loyalty in dollars spent rather than miles flown. That makes better sense to the traveler and makes them feel more rewarded. Though AwardAce’s solution is still useful, travelers live their lives in dollars and appreciate communicating loyalty redemption that way.
Vossy is a booking site and curated collection of boutique hotels around the world. The site is geared towards the Asia-Pacific region where boutique hotels’ popularity continues to rise.
>>SkiftTake: This week hotel pioneer Ian Schrager reminded us what boutique hotels are really all about. They’re not about design, the lobby or their size. They’re about “having a single focus, an attitude, product distinction and creating an elevated experience,” as Schrager put it.
That usually gets lost in the booking experience if travelers don’t book direct with brands. We’re not sure travelers would adopt a site like Vossy just to book a specific kind of hotel, but there are still many learnings booking sites and brands can take away about what the future of boutique hotel bookings should look like.
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