76% of UK holidaymakers booked their holiday online last year. Further proof that, as a nation, we are pretty net-savvy (or know a good deal when we see one). All this online travel activity translates into hard cash, not just for the existing players like Expedia and, um, Explorer Travel Insurance, but for new start ups too.
According to CB Insights, 200 travel tech businesses attracted over £2.5 billion of funding in 2016. Some of that funding may, of course, never see the light of day as the investment either turns sour or consumers just don’t get the value of what is being offered.
US Forbes Magazine recently published an article on seven travel tech start ups which they predict will ‘take Europe by storm’. We’ve selected our top three which we thought just might catch on.
(OK. Truth to tell we didn’t really understand what the other four were talking about but these three we got!)
We understood what VizEat was on about. Its a new ‘social eating platform that connects travelers and local hosts who provide authentic and immersive food experiences in their homes: dinners, cooking classes, food tours and so on’.
The company pitches itself as ‘offering a unique way for travelers to engage with locals from all around the world and to discover new cultures around food’.
This we get.
And clearly so do others, including Apple, which selected VizEat as one of its top three apps of 2016. Set up in 2014, the founders have raised $5.5m to date and their platform now has more than 25,000 hosts across 130 countries.
Zizoo’s proposition seemed pretty clear too. It sells itself as ‘the leading global boat rental platform and community, providing a global digital booking platform and website connecting charter companies to travelers worldwide’.
Naturally, its founders believe they are ‘disrupting the boat rental industry’ . (Does this mean they are rocking the boat? Sorry, we couldn’t resist that one). The Austrian start-up has secured $2.75m in funding to date and its platform already boasts 11,000 customer-reviewed boats in over 30 countries.
Finally, we were intrigued by Gopili, which began life in 2009 as KelBillet and which is marketing itself as ‘a site for buying and selling unused train tickets’. Naturally, and thanks partly to a €2.2million investment it has ‘morphed into a multi-modal travel search engine, presenting data on domestic and international travel (including rail, bus, car-shares and planes)’.
Clearly, selling on old bus tickets is good business. Last year the business processed more than €70m worth and its platform now boasts 100 million users in UK, Spain, Germany, Italy and Russia.
What struck us about these start ups was their apparent simplicity; putting travelers in touch with other people who can then offer them meals at home, boats or unused train tickets. Or are we missing something here?