How to make your travel tech startup stand out
Nearly 12,000 new tech companies were registered in the UK in 2018, a 14% increase from the previous year*. Many of these tech startups are working on exciting solutions to address one of the biggest challenges facing the travel industry. Head of Amadeus Innovation Partnership Program for Amadeus, which runs several travel tech startup initiatives, outlines how founders can best pitch their idea to potential partners and investors.
The travel sector is evolving fast. The industry is being disrupted by really exciting technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI), biometrics, and an increased focus on personalized services throughout the travel experience.
However, there is a disconnect between established travel industry companies and the startups developing these exciting tech solutions. With so many considerations at the buyer side – such as safety and privacy – the industry tends to be risk averse, so startups can find themselves involved in slow decision-making processes.
Amadeus runs a long-established collaborative ecosystem to support promising startups – Amadeus Ventures, a strategic startup investment program; Amadeus Explore, which connects startups with Amadeus experts and customers to test, improve and promote their solutions; and Amadeus for Developers, which provides startups with the technology they need to convert their ideas into high potential solutions.
As such, Amadeus meets hundreds of startups each year, working with a select few to help them develop their offering. So how can tech startup founders impress organisations to achieve development support and potential investment?
1) Solve a problem
Technology needs to solve a challenge or improve on an existing solution. Startups need to demonstrate a proof of concept to show that the technology can deliver in the real world, especially under stressful conditions. Is it legal? Is it secure? How will it save the user time and money?
2) Create a long-term business plan
It might seem obvious, but potential buyers, partners or investors will want to see a startup’s business plan. This will need to cover everything from an overview of the problem the technology solves and how, the market demand and size, the startup’s go-to-market and growth strategy, operational factors and overheads, and watertight profit projections. Where will the company be in two, five, ten years’ time?
3) Devise a marketing plan
What’s the unique selling point? What are the key messages and how will these be conveyed? What assets could be created to promote the product, both on- and offline? As a technology startup, there will be even more emphasis on creating a solid digital impression – with an engaging website and social media.
4) Bring a solid origin story
Potential investors, partners and even customers will be interested to hear the startup’s origin story. What was the genesis of the idea? What was the need that the founders spotted that sparked the idea? What are the founders’ stories and what personal challenges have they overcome?
5) Target the right partner
Travel tech startups need to know which partners can help them achieve their business goals. Founders should identify the right target buyers, partners or venture capitalists (VCs) that can provide the time, tech resources and financial backing that will help them get there.
6) Have an answer for everything
Potential investors and partners will have questions about every aspect of the startup product, business and staff. Startup founders must expect the unexpected!
Five travel tech startups to draw inspiration from
In recent years, Amadeus has partnered with some exciting travel tech startups that are disrupting the market and simplifying the way we travel. Here are a few, looking at their unique selling points and the problems they solve.
GeoSure: Travelers want to know that they will be safe wherever they are. The GeoSure app uses a combination of big data, AI, crowd-sourced reporting and geospatial intelligence to inform travelers of the safety of the neighborhoods around their accommodation. The app assesses seven categories – overall safety, women’s safety, health and medical, theft, physical harm, political freedoms and LGBTQ safety – and ranks them from 1 (safest) to 100 (least safe).
GeoSure won Newsweek Travel App of the Year 2019.
Smartvel: Smartvel provides an easy-to-integrate solution for any travel provider interested in offering tours, activities and services at destination: up-to-date events (music, sports, cultural, …), travel guides (monuments, restaurants) and any content that our customers want to promote (tours, hotels, transfers, etc.).
Avuxi: With offices in Barcelona and London, AVUXI ranks the popularity of every place on earth. It creates easy-to-understand location profiling descriptions and map visualizations. For example, heat maps of the most popular areas in a city, so travelers can easily get to know where are the best places to visit before they arrive at their destination. The technology also helps travelers to make better informed booking decisions much faster, by reducing the travelers’ need to do time consuming research about their destination off-site.
MyLitteAdventure: Another great app to help travelers work out where to go and what to do during their trip is MyLittleAdventure. This smart inspiration engine allows users to pick any city in the world, set their preferences and receive personalised recommendations and offers. In an age when travelers value and expect personalised offers, MyLittleAdventure provides a valuable service.
Sherpa: In 2020, 300 million electronic visas (e-visas) and Electronic Travel Authorization (ETAs) will be issued to travelers. Sherpa makes it easier for travelers to understand the visa and customs requirements, and speed up e-visa issuance. It also enables travel providers to offer ancillary services to their customers.
Tech buyers from businesses throughout the travel experience – from booking to transit to fulfilment – can benefit from working with startups; they can bring a different perspective and fresh ideas. There is a huge opportunity here too for startups, so long as they are clear on their business and marketing plan, and can articulate their offering to would-be partners and investors.
*Data from Companies House