Travelabs Insights: August 2018
The most important news and insights from travel tech scene worldwide
Future of travel industry at the Travel Tech Conference Russia

On October 4 Moscow becomes a host city for professional conference Travel Tech Conference Russia, dedicated to the latest trends of information technology in the travel segment. We invite travel market professionals, startups, travel suppliers, investors and everyone who's interested in online travel sector. The questions under discussion are new technology trends, online travel agencies issues, online technology trends in hotel and in airline segments.

Travel Tech Conference Russia is the main Russian platform for sharing experiences between colleagues from multiple countries. Speakers from the United States, Germany, UK, the Netherlands and other countries will share their vision and experience with the audience.

For example, Ricard Harris, the founder and director of Intent Media from New York, will talk about artificial intelligence possibilities that can assist with the data analysis in hospitality industry. Marcin Wesolowski, director of operations at Bidroom (Amsterdam), will share his experience of running a startup competing with monopoly. Saritta Hines, the founder of TrustaBit startup from San Diego, will tell about the blockchain technology for airline companies.

Among the speakers from Russia are leading experts in their field, such as Felix Shpilman, SEO specialist of; Egor Yakovlev, the development director of izi.TRAVEL; Alexandr Kim, CEO at Sputnik8, and others.

The most relevant technologies and ideas will be presented at startup pitches. The founders of the most innovative companies in travel business will tell about their projects at startup competition and will battle for the opportunity to win tickets to Phocuswright Europe 2019.

All conference sessions are simultaneously translated to English and Russian.

The conference will be held on the 4th of October in Soglasie HALL in Moscow. The conference is organized by Travelabs (Czech Republic) and HQ Agency (Russia). The conference partners are the leading companies of their field: Intent Media, Amadeus, Phocuswright,, Travel Startups, Jacobs Media, ITTS, MITT.

In addition to the Travel Tech Conference Russia, we bring you the most important news on the following topics:

  • Hoteliers and hospitality: the challenge of hoteliers take in-room guests' experiences to their big picture.
  • Airlines: the industry's demands for speed up the travel process and improve customer experience.
  • Tours and activities: the need for a mobile strategy and the big fundings in Asia.
  • More about business & startups: the need for better solutions on payment, data analysis and shopping experiences.
  • China and India: News about two large particular markets in the travel industry.
  • Singapore Airline AppChallenge on the 4th edition, seeking the most innovative business solutions to tackle company pain points. Application open until September 30th

Hoteliers and hospitality

Hoteliers are facing the challenge to take in-room guests' experience as part of their big picture, big players are calibrating expenses on direct market and Airbnb is moving towards property management.
In the quarter ending June 30, the two largest travel-marketing spenders, Booking Holdings and Expedia Group, which each devoted $1.26 billion to direct marketing, recalibrated their marketing spend to decline as a percentage of revenue.

With more third-party hotel distribution companies targeting Chinese outbound, hotels need to look at their content. Intermediaries expect static descriptions to be up-to-date, for rates to be dynamic, for rich media to work on Chinese platforms.

Is Amazon entering in the travel space a threat to hotels?

Smart ledger firm Fetch.AI has linked up with hospitality m-commerce specialist wi-Q Technologies to offer AI-powered predictions and personalized offers.

Airbnb plans to unveil Airbnb Friendly Buildings Program and new tools for landlords to allow property managers have more control over how their residents homeshare.

Hoteliers have always focused on the guest experience, but never before has a guest's experience outside the hotel room mattered as much as their in-room experience.


As the number of passengers and flights increase, airlines are facing demand for speed up travel process, improve customer service and inflight experience. Mobile booking and payment tech are on highlight.

Domodedovo Airport in Moscow was the first airport in Russia to introduce SITA-enabled passenger flow management, including smart validation at automated gates with SITA's iValidate technology.

British adults expressed preference for AI applications that would speed up the travel process, avoid queues and minimise problems at check-in. Young passengers, meanwhile, were more receptive to VR applications, welcoming chance to explore their destination in VR.

Routehappy has announced a partnership with Fareportal to introduce Universal Product Attribute (UPA) rich-content. Customers will be able to target seat images across airline sub-fleets, cabins and specific seat locations.

eDreams ODIGEO is increasing sales of dynamic packages and flight ancillaries, as well as seeing a higher rate of mobile bookings.

Etihad Airways has announced a partnership with payments technology startup Modo aiming a loyalty redemption solution for the airline industry.

The top buzzwords featured at the Global Aviation Festival in London include personalization, blockchain, innovation, distribution and machine learning.

easyJet has selected Amadeus' SkySYM by Optym to optimize flight schedulesand improve its on-time performance.

IATA Aviation Human Resources Report reveals that customer service jobs in aviation will be high in demand over the coming years but airlines are finding it hard to find the right candidates.

The social robot Nely will be deployed at Istanbul New Airport to assist travelers. This robot is equipped with AI, facial recognition, emotional analysis, voice capabilities, bar code reader and ability to greet passengers. See the demonstration on video!

A round-up of the smartest airports in Asia, promising to make travel experience more efficient and comfortable using robotics, augmented reality and biometric check-in.

Sabre is to work with American Airlines and leading global TMCs to develop new solutions based around NDC standards.

Staying online is becoming part of the inflight experience for today's airline passengers and opportunity for generate loyalty.

Tours and activities

Tours and activities startups need to pay attention to mobile strategy considering the incoming traffic and booking through mobile platforms. And this segment is also heating up in Asia.

Thomas Cook is to extend its "white label" online booking partnership with Expedia across European markets over the next months. The tour operator started selling Expedia's city break and hotel-only product through its UK website in July.

With more than 50% of the world's internet traffic coming through mobile, tours and activities providers should have a mobile strategy in place. Understanding the specific trends behind mobile use in tours and activities can make the difference between having a mobile-friendly site and a mobile-optimised one.

The tours and activities market in Asia has been heating up in 2018. Alibaba has backed Taiwan-based FunNow on $5 million funding series to expand to Okinawa, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Bali, Kuala Lumpur, Osaka and Tokyo.

Klook has secured another $200 million funding and plans to open an office in US in 2018 and add more activities appealing to Asian tourists.

More about business & startups

Startups are opportunity for leveraging travel companies, while the industry needs better solutions for payment, data analysis and consistent shopping experiences, and metasearch companies can be knocked off when big advertisers switch up their algorithms. And more news on raises and funding for travel startups.

Marcin Wesolowski, director of operations at, will talk on Travel Tech Conference Russia about how to compete with monopoly in online travel sector. He says the most important thing for new startups compete with behemoths is a motivated team working toward one goal.

A list of 10 European startups making big waves in the travel industry, including Bidroom, which will be represented on Travel Tech Conference Russia by Marcin Wesolowski.

Is disruption becoming a distraction? The cold hard truth is, not all disruptors are looking to knock you off your perch. Many startups are looking for partners to leverage a market, resolve frictions and deliver beyond your customer expectations.

Travel industry needs a more modern solution for payment to better manage a complex scenario in which the customer makes a reservation and provides their card data to the channel manager who receives the reservation, and then passes to the Payment Management System (PMS).

OTAs are the most popular option for booking flights and accommodation within the youth and student market.

Travel brands are over-reliant on legacy of e-commerce technology, leading to inconsistent shopping experiences across devices and producing unnecessary friction during booking process. The underutilization of customer data results in missed opportunities to present the right inventory to the right customer at the right time.

Is metasearch model in trouble? Most of metasearch business is beyond the control of the metasearch companies themselves because their largest advertisers can switch things up at anytime.

Singapore-based Travelstop has raised $1.65 million for drive product development, build development team, grow sales and marketing. The startup is a AI-powered SaaS platform aimed at simplifying business travel for corporates in Asia.

Social networking app Travello raises $3.7 million for product, engineering, customer care and marketing.

The online marketplace for long-term business apartment rentals across Europe Homelike has raised $14 million and brought on board a new investor, Spark Capital.

Evolve Vacation Rental Network announced a raise of $80 million in capital to solidify its expansion in North America and the Caribbean.

China and India

Extra news about travel market in China and India, two large marketplaces with their own industry landscapes heating up.

Ctrip, Meituan, Qunar, Tongcheng-eLong and Fliggy account for 96,4% of online hotel bookings in China in the second quarter of 2018, according to Trustdata.

Amadeus India is focusing on improving its other business models such as hotel bookings and distribution and has undertaken large investments in ancillary travel services like booking seat, meal and baggage.

MakeMyTrip has invested an undisclosed amount in Bangalore-based Bitla Software, to develop and expand its suite of travel focused technology products.

Goibibo has launched a new WhatsApp integrated solution, allowing its users to sign-in to Goibibibo on mobile via WhatsApp.

Singapore Airline AppChallenge

The Singapore Airline AppChallenge is back for its 4th edition with attractive prizes seeking the most innovative business solutions to tackle the company's pain points. Those are:
  • Improve mobile app engagement;
  • Offloaded passenger compensation process;
  • Enabling the KriShop experience;
  • Tracking inventory usages; and
  • Tracking F&B consumption
Eligibility: ANYONE (from early-stage startup founder, a developer, to a person interested in travel-tech) from ANYWHERE

Perks: the qualified participants will be flown to Singapore to pitch to the judges on 27 Oct 2018 and be there to gain:
  • Mentorship by SIA industry veterans
  • Access to SIA and partners' APIs
  • Potential Proof of Concept collaboration with SIA to develop commercial solutions
  • Networking opportunities
  • Exposure and insights into the exciting global aviation industry
  • ...and of course, attractive prizes (cash, miles, and more)!
Application phase: 15 August - 30 September

With lots of love, yours truly,
Valentin Dombrovsky, Chief Alchemist at Travelabs, Andre Fernandes and Travel Tech Newsletter Team

P.S. If you received this message from a friend or found it via link somewhere, don't forget to subscribe to Travel Startups Newsletter not to miss news and opportunities.
Must-know things for
every travel entrepreneur and investor.
Subscribe to Travelabs Insights and receive the most important news and insights from travel tech sector worldwide
Feel free to contact us
Valentin Dombrovsky
Chief Alchemist