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In January Skift decided the rise of so-called smart cities is one of the megatrends defining travel in 2016.
While we’ve certainly seen progress during the past year or heard of plans to make cities better places to live, most of the world’s cities still have a long way to go in before they’re truly smart and connected.
Cities need to do a better job with speaking to themselves and using the bundles of data they amass. While this week’s five startups aren’t involved in calling the shots at city hall, they still view their positions as vital to helping the urban travel ecosystem evolve and become more efficient and enjoyable for travelers. With the future of the world being mapped out in cities, new models for smart bike rentals, car services, navigation, and city guides will test the strength of travel brands to create technology-enabled experiences that help everyone.
Skedaddle is a mobile app that helps travelers that live in U.S. cities find transportation options for traveling outside of urban areas. Travelers choose their own pick-up, destination and time. They get picked up by a professionally driven luxury vehicle and ride when at least nine others are headed the same way.
>>SkiftTake: City dwellers in much of the world definitely need more humane options for traveling outside of their cities. Skedaddle isn’t the first company to try to solve this pain point (think Zipcar, for example) but its approach towards efficiency in travel is notable.
ByPass helps travelers find the safest routes around cities.
>>SkiftTake: With many travel brand encouraging travelers to venture into neighborhoods that might not be accustomed to tourism — and perhaps not particularly safe in some cases — it appears it’s high time for a tool like ByPass to step up and show travelers the way.
Dropbyke is a mobile app that lets travelers reserve and rent bikes in cities and return them at a location that’s convenient for them.
>>SkiftTake: Unlike popular Citi Bike, travelers aren’t beholden to returning a bike at a certain location. Whether this model will work for the company is the question — with some bikes potentially being left in unsafe or inconvenient areas with low demand.
Quest City is a Facebook Messenger bot that gives travelers city guides and recommendations for what to see and do in cities such as San Francisco and Seattle.
>>SkiftTake: Travelers have numerous mobile app tour guide options, like Detour, to show them around cities. Asking a messenger bot for personalized recommendations seems like a good idea and something that travelers would value. That’s provided the bot is truly personalizing its recommendations and not telling everyone the same thing.
Spacily helps travelers rent out meeting rooms in hotels with no booking fees. It currently has about 200 spaces in and around London.
>>SkiftTake: If cities are platforms, then travelers should view cities as tools that connect them to doing business and finding meeting space. Spacily could also help hotels maximize revenues by letting the outside world, or non-guests, into their properties to use spaces that may otherwise be unused several days throughout the year.
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