5 Travel Startups to Watch from Phocuswright Europe Travel Innovation Summit

This article is written by Valentin Dombrovsky — head of market relations at Excursiopedia.

Phocuswright Europe is one of the biggest events in online travel industry that gathers thought leaders and leaders of major travel companies on one stage. It is held by research company Phocuswright that is famous for its travel industry insights and events. Travel Innovation Summit, where travel startups share their ideas with the world and have a chance to win the title of European Travel Innovator of the Year, is also important part of the event. Innovators cover all travel industry sectors — from hotel booking to travel insurance and that’s why, I think, that it might be interesting to look at some of the ideas that were presented at Phocuswright Europe Conference in Dublin this May.


European Travel Innovator of the Year Award and People’s Choice Award went to a company with a playful name Triptease (presentation video highlight). This innovator offers simple “price check” widget for hotel websites for them to be able to get more direct bookings. The idea is simple and to understand company value proposition and the importance of the problem it tackles, we need to dig a bit deeper into relations between hotels and online travel agencies (OTAs). It is not a secret that OTAs like Expedia or Booking.com provide majority of bookings for hotels and gather commissions that range between 15 % and 30 %. This type of “competitive partnership” exists in many parts of travel industry, by the way.
Triptease provides hotel websites with a widget that allows visitors to check prices in major OTAs immediately and claims that it will provide increase of 35 % in direct bookings. Therefore, the idea is simple and value proposition is very clear — nice idea that managed to be found in a highly competitive online travel world.

Indigo.gt (presentation video highlight) was the runner up of the event with it’s solution that strives to bring airport transfer bookings online. Company claims to be fixing the last mile of travel for 60 % of passengers who get on the train, taxi or a bus ride upon their arrival into the airport. This solution might be interesting for airlines and OTAs that want to enhance their clients’ online booking experience, so it’s no surprise that the company tries to embrace b2b approach. The company also claims to have largest fleet of taxi companies connected to its platform and that’s very important metric on a very fragmented market.

Other Interesting Ideas

Airhelp (presentation video highlight) — this YCombinator-funded startup seems to be “legal company turned online service” type of solution. And this company doesn’t work with those who had a nice travel experience as it helps airline passengers to get refunds in case of flight delays or cancellations. The first thing to notice that it’s important to make passengers aware about their rights on the first hand. Of course, streamlining the process is the second thing. Airhelp tries to help travelers with both and it won’t be a surprise that this is a type of company that is hated by airlines.

Another company that helps travelers to save money (but this time on hotel bookings) is Triprebel (presentation video highlight) — if Airhelp is hated by airlines, this company should be hated by hotels (but, what’s more important, loved by travelers). It helps to book a hotel room via its OTA partners and then helps to rebook hotel if the price of the hotel drops before the trip or there’s a chance to get a deal that is somehow better. All this with zero hassle, of course.

And the last company that I wanted to note is Everyglobe (presentation video highlight). There’s no lack of online travel planners on the market (as almost every newcomer understands that online travel planning is broken and tries to fix it), but still it’s hard to say that any of them were successful. I still feel that there’s a chance for someone to get into the niche and Everyglobe seems to be the good candidate as it uses travel psychology as well as its understanding of travel patterns (yeah, lots of big data here too) to provide seamless travel experience. I like that company calls itself “digital travel agency” — this name shows its desire to bring the idea of expert travel agent armed by artificial intelligence into life.

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