Travelabs Insights: October 2018
The most important news and insights from travel tech scene worldwide
Machine Learning, AI Development and more from Travelabs
Fresh, hot and ready for use in travel industry!

As we had observed in the September newsletter, big tech players and travel companies are moving towards tours & activities, which is now the third largest sector by spending in the travel industry.

Google diving into tours & activities with Touring Bird, Airbnb has expanded beyond accommodations including things to do. And since the acquisition of Bokun, TripAdvisor has been facing challenges in balancing the wants of consumers with the ones of tours & activities suppliers.

Surveying 4.000 travelers from the U.S., U.K., France, and Germany, Arival points key trends shaping the future of tours & activities, what travelers want, how they shop and book. Here the key insights provided by the the research 2018 State of In-Destination:

  • Shopping, historical and cultural sites, attractions and sightseeing tours are the top activities taken by the surveyed travelers;
  • Food, wellness, organized tours, sporting activities, and festivals are the main activities booked. Adventure, culinary and thematic tours appeal more to young travelers;
  • Most of the surveyed travelers go online to research in-destination activity options while purchasing the tickets in-person

Tours & activities follow a booking window different from flights and hotels, which are booked well in advance. For tours & activities, books are mostly made on last minute. So companies must observe travelers may look for flexibility, or maybe indecisive, or they don't care to book in advance. Taking these factors into consideration, tours & activities suppliers are recommended to:

  • Presence on desktop and mobile to capture travelers along the planning and booking phases;
  • Incorporate distinctive culinary tours into your offerings. Remember that culinary touches all the elements in any in-destination experience;
  • Reduce your advance booking minimum as much as possible to capture the last-minute booker;
  • Give a reason to travelers book in advance: better price, a special benefit only to the advance purchase.

Along the next lines, we present the most important news in the following topics:
  • Tours & Activities: travel suppliers must prepare themselves for the disruptions on tours and activities segment.
  • Startups and funding: news on funding, the need to know travel funnel and a pioneering initiative for startups on gastronomic tourism.
  • Hospitality industry: hotels need to ensure their products are aligned to mobile platforms, voice tech Expedia Action and TripAdvisor back to Google Hotels.
  • Airlines: accurate and timely information is essential for disrupt in the airlines industry.
  • Events: what is coming up in the travel tech?

But before we start we want to share few words about Travel Tech Conference Russia which happened on October 4 in Moscow.

We believe, event was a success and participants agree with us according to their feedback! You can see all videos, slides, photos and reviews from the event in our recap. We've already launched sign ups for 2019, although we don't know the exact date of the event yet. If you trust us and believe that we do awesome event again, feel free to sign up here. And we're ready to offer sponsor packages for the event at a special rate till the end of the year. Reach out to us via or just reply to this message if you're interested. Hope to see you in Moscow in 2019!

Tours & Activities

OTAs, booking platforms, hotels, airlines and other travel suppliers must prepare themselves for the disruptions on tours & activities segment.

iSeatz debuted its Ancillary Management System to the travel industry to help hotels, airlines and other providers organize their revenue strategies for ancillary services.

With the recent disruptions on tours and activities, every OTA and booking platform is positioning and preparing itself. But who will dominate the market? Chris Torres takes a look at how Airbnb, TripAdvisor, and Google, and how suppliers can make sure they're ready for the digital environment.

Tours and Activities suppliers are getting distracted by the OTAs' magic show and not paying enough attention to what is waiting for them if they take their eyes off the magician's hands. Tours and activities businesses don't need OTAs to thrive or even survive, and OTAs have made clear they want the same hold over tours and activities as they do over hotels.

Although far from perfect, Google is already addressing some of the pain points in vacation package search, testing its vacation rental solution in the UK, Germany and the U.S.

OTAs are putting real money on TV. has spent $39.9 million so far in the United States and TripAdvisor was set to launch two national TV commercials highlighting things to do in New York City and New Orleans.

Startups and funding

Startups need to know the travel funnel! And news about funding and a pioneering initiative for startups on gastronomic tourism sector.

Startups angling to break into travel can't win without knowledge of the so-called travel funnel, whether they're aiming to enter at a specific level or disrupt the funnel altogether.

KeyoCoin uses blockchain technology to gamify the entire travel experiencethrough a travel rewards cryptocurrency. Their primary function is to give travel companies a free rewards platform to help them to market their services

The Brno-based OTA processed $925 million in gross bookings in 2017, while the largest travel multinationals swallow all the marketing and financial oxygen.

Barcelona-based TravelPerk has secured about €38 million in Series C fundingto enable the expansion into new markets and its growth to become one of the leading corporate travel platforms.

The property management Vacasa has secured a $64 million extension of its Series B round of financing. Some of the new capital is likely to go into its months-old program of connecting real estate agents.

UNWTO and Basque Culinary Center have launched a pioneering initiative for the gastronomic tourism sector. Startups, mature or emerging, can apply until March 5th, 2019.

Berlin-based Mapify raises $1 million in seed funding for US expansion, after a major update to its mobile apps in order to prepare the product for scaling.

Booking platform Hopper has raised $100 million in a Series D round to expand its presence globally, further AI enhancements and recruitment.

Hospitality Industry

Hotels need to ensure their products are aligned to mobile platforms, voice tech Expedia Action and TripAdvisor back to Google Hotels.

Asia-Pacific hotel industry is having to define its digital transformation roadmap according to mobile's dominance, while suppliers need to ensure their products and services align with a mobile-first market.

TripAdvisor is back as an advertiser in Google Hotels, and so are its user reviews despite long-standing protests that Google unfairly emphasizes its own travel businesses to the detriment of competitors.

The Chinese hospitality tech giant Shiji has been expanding its global push since a $486 million investment from Alibaba Group in February.

Expedia has made voice commerce in travel a reality with the launch of a new Expedia Action on Google Assistant which allows users to book a hotel using voice.

Reduced advertising spend succeeds in returning Trivago to profitablity. Part of this success ties to Trivago's mobile app, the company reports revenue from mobile websites and app continues to exceed 60%.


Accurate and timely information is essential for disrupt in the airlines industry.

According to IATA's 2018 Global Passenger Survey, effective disruption management requires accurate and timely information, quick information of immediate needs, and ways to make the time spent waiting for the new flight more comfortable.

Kayak has announced a new partnership with which will make flight amenities data available to customers on the flight search, across all the meta searches which fall under Booking Holdings' Kayak unit.

SITA's new Scan&Fly baggage drop systems follows a push for self-service to support the seamless journey at Kuala Lumpur International Airport and at Moscow Domededovo Airport with S7 Airlines.

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) has formed partnership with Plug and Play, startup accelerator and corporate innovation based in Silicon Valley.

Malysia's low-cost carrier AirAsia is working with Google Cloud to integrate machine learning and artificial inteligence into every aspect of their businessand culture.

easyJet has added an extension to its app based on pictures shares on Instagram that lets would-be-travelers find and book destinations.


Israel Travel Tech Starups will host a Travel Tech Conference in H1 2019 including visits to Israeli startups, face-to-face meetings ad other activities. The organizers want to know your suggestions on this 2-minute form. Phocuswright Conference - the biggest and most important conference focused on travel tech and innovations happens in Los Angeles on November 13-15. Don't miss out the opportunity to meet more than 2000 executives from whole travel tech world. If you can't be on the event, you can sign up to watch it online for free!

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