Why are tourism start-ups bankable? (and why it’s going to last)

The demonstration does not have to be done anymore, tourism start-ups are bankable!

Airbnb, Tripadvisor, Expedia, Kayak, Blablacar, Booking are just some of the names which illustrate the success of the start-up sector.

⅓ of advertisements in the subway are about Travel Tech. In 2015, there were 1 billion international tourists, which represents 9% of the worldwide GDP, and 1 job out of 11.

The figures of the Travel Tech start-ups confirm this.

  • their deals and their amounts are increasing since 5 years:
  • and all around the world:

Travel Tech is part of the sectors which achieves the best “Exits”, which explains why these start-ups constitute the 3rd contributor to Google’s earnings.

Yes, Travel Tech is sexy! But why?

Because all we talk about, is travelling!

Travelling: A need as old as the World.

Man being a curious creature, it’s in its nature de seek new horizons.

Since the first major migration movements, motivated by the survival of populations, leaving Africa for Eurasia; the thirst of Viking’s conquests for new lands; no matter the era, Man has always had the need to travel.

Travelling is a necessity and a growing need for our stressed societies, seeking for productivity, Man needs renewal. Also, the facility of the means of transportation and of communications participate in this growth.

Travelling is a vector for personal development. Leaving, escaping, allows one to learn, to reflect on our lives and existence, to acquire a new outlook on ourselves and others: this is the notion of alterity.

Travelling is first and foremost consuming

I his search for alterity, the traveller wants to live elsewhere a tangible experience and awaken his senses.

This desire characterizes itself by the purchase of a means of transportation, of housing or of other activities, followed by the use of these services; to live a tourist’s experience goes through consuming a combination of services which have a fee.

Drinking a coffee in Paris, driving a convertible through California, or drinking a Ti Punch on the beaches in Martinique: these acts of tourist consumption satisfy the need for alterity and allow the person who is experiencing them, to break free from their routine.

But to grasp the 21st century tourist phenomenon, is to understand that it is part of a new consumer need. The tourist doesn’t want to consume “foolishly”, he wants to give a meaning to his consumption.

Consuming differently : the quest for “eco tourisme”

Today, the mythical figure of the “traveller” goes against the more pejorative “tourist”.

Having emerged with the consumerism diktats, the tourist is contrarily to the traveller, one who stays in specially set up spaces and refuses to let go of his habits. He is the target for all types of scams, paying the strong price for low quality services. He is the arrogant consumer who doesn’t respect the traditions of the local community and pollutes; he is the “idiot of the trip[1].”

On the other hand, the traveller represents an ideal, he goes on adventures, letting himself be surprised by the unknown, goes beyond his habits and his usual horizons. He is on the search for others and for newness.

Confronted with this caricatural image, many tourists nowadays don’t consider themselves as such anymore, and are attracted by a communication’s message which talks to them more as travellers.

All in all, like in consumerism, we can observe the desire to consume differently, more reasonably, more… “Eco-friendly”.

[1] Jean-Didier Urbain in L’Idiot du voyage : Histoires de touristes — Poche

Because the start-up solutions are relevant

Solutions which answer to the search for alterity

Authenticity imposes itself as the key word for a tourist experience; to not be the victim of a set up, a denaturation of reality, but to be able to discover the “real” country, the “real” culture.

Faced with this desire, tourism start-ups offer many products which valorize this dimension. For example, Continents Insolites , Voyageurs du monde or Marco Vasco give their clients the possibility to their clients to live a privileged moment during a tea ceremony, or a traditional celebration.Meetrip offers certified guides for tailor made visits with a wide choice of local experiences.

But to have a neutral and unique judgement concerning the authenticity of an experience isn’t really practicable. By definition, it belongs to the one who is living it, and only he can judge its quality. It is difficult to offer a single tourist experience, which will please all tourists. This is why it is important to offer personalized experiences.

Because of this difficulty to live a truly authentic experience, meeting locals without an external third party, represents a great solution to guarantee a direct contact with the destination.

Front door to a region and its culture, the “local” crystallizes authenticity. He plays the role of a guarantee of authenticity, and facilitates the tourist’s access to the reality of local life, by allowing him into his daily life.

Tourist products adapted to the search for authenticity

For start-ups, the challenge is to create trustworthy products and services which can offer a slice of dream to their clients. It’s their promise, their “value proposition”.

They also do an interesting semantic work. Even though it’s about buying a holiday service, it’s the experience which is at the core of the start-up’s solution. The idea of the consumerism product isn’t at the center: they offer first and foremost an adventure, a discovery of others…Consumerism is placed under the sign of emotion.

Whilst looking to give a meaning to our consumption, we are guided in our choice by problematics which are important to us. Ecology, health, cultural diversity, are some of the motivations which will make us choose one experience over another. Ordering your meat directly from a local farmer, renting a Tesla berline or opting for carpooling: the consumer integrates nowadays a societal dimension in his buying habits.

Start-ups allow you to do so.

These platforms facilitate the immersive experience, all whilst offering a strong confrontation with alterity.

Digital encourages the access to alterity

Mobiquity :spontaneous, diversified and personalized

In this unknown universe liberated of all classic tourist intermediaries, the tourist turns towards digital resources. To know to popularity of a restaurant thanks to local’s recommendations, the history of the neighborhood we’re discovering, the events going on in a cultural location: the mobile offers independence to the modern traveller.

One of the terms used is “SoLoMo” : A Social, Local and Mobile experience.

The mobile reflex is even simpler thanks to start-ups who are specialized in offering solutions to avoid roaming (telecom overcharge when abroad): Travel Wifi offers a wifi router for tourists to stay connected during their whole trip.

Even though he wants to assert his personal choices and independence, the tourist is nonetheless seeking for quickly accessible quality services. He wants tailor made offers, to live a spontaneous experience.

This comfort which is offered thanks to mobile tech, is accentuated with the existence of tourist concierges.

Digital conciergerie: a decisive step for today’s tourism.

We are living a disintermediation of the first tourisme job: concierging.

From a logistics point of view: cleaning, checking in/out, sheet changing; Bnbsitter can work with rental agencies like Paris Adress, Antilles Exception, Mister bnb, who provide a high quality service.

Or on the job of receptionist : offering tailor made services and experiences.

This type of service has become at the same time very simple, and of high value. With a message through text or by an app, the tourist can ask exactly what he is looking for, in his search for alterity.

He is then in direct connexion with the operator who will be giving him answers. This can be a robot, with the boom of artificial intelligence (helloscout, assist) or a real human being.

The latter is more realistic to answer to the real personalized needs of the tourist. Giving him tailor made tips based on his profile, thanks to a high knowledge of the destination. A hybrid system is for me the most adequate for this type of concierge experience.

It’s the case for hijames : to accompany the tourist before and during his trip. Through a simple chat conversation, or by going further, by allowing him to meet up with locals, who can help him organize and prepare his trip.

This model is based on the one of a travel companion, who can give you tips as he knows the travel destination, and he knows you.


These tourism start-ups are performant because the need to travel is ancient and growing in our current societies. The solutions which are offered by start-ups are relevant to the mutation of needs: to travel differently, to travel authentically.

Collaborative tourism is the perfect example of this mutation, with the search for an authentique trip, without a third party in between you and the locals.

Digital means facilitate this link with no intermediaries, and especially conciergerie by chat, which creates a direct link in between the tourist and the local, to prepare and live a unique travel experience.