Three travel technology start-ups pitched their ideas to three judges and delegates at the 2017 Travolution Summit as they bid to scale their businesses.
In Dragon’s Den-style pitches, the up-and-coming businesses each had just two minutes to talk the room through their ideas and how they see them developing in the future.
The three judges at this year’s event were Jacobs Media’s chief executive Duncan Horton, Simon Powell, chief executive of Inpiretec and Kosta Kolev, co-founder of Hack Horizon.
Here’s how the start-ups got on…
This year’s winner was automatic travel journal Esplorio, which impressed judges by showing how it pulled photos, videos and maps into a personal travel profile to share on social media without pulling all of the content together.
Already used in more than 120 countries, the firm hopes its app can be used by destinations to use in marketing – with the user’s agreement – and offers a portal to book trips.
It has had investment from British Airways parent International Airlines Group, and claims to have a conversion rate eight times higher than BA’s.
Co-founder and chief marketing officer Essa Saulat, said: “There was no easy way for travellers to record every aspect of their adventures. We let them record and share the best experiences of their lives.
“Facebook is limited to social circles and Instagram is just moments,” he added. “Esplorio can be seen anywhere.”
Former PR man Matthew Barker set up Horizon Guides as a middle-man helping small and medium sized tour operators reduce online advertising costs through bespoke travel guides.
It said the typical cost for a lead by using Google search was around US$200, which he said eats into smaller firms profit margins.
“Travel marketing can be a real challenge,” he told judges and delegates. “Customer acquisition can take months or years. Tour operators have been told they need to do this stuff and end up spending far too much on customer acquisition because they don’t have the scale for it. Which is where we can help.”
Horizon guides employs free-lance content writers and creates bespoke guides for operators in return for a monthly fee. It then aggregates the content to reach more people looking for their nx holiday and claims to reduce the cost of customer acquisition by up to 80%.
Barker said he has generated 10,000 leads for Horizon Guides’ 11 partners in the last 12 months.
“We want to throw a lifeline to an often over-looked sector of the industry,” he said.
“People are bombarded by inspirational content wherever they go,” says Sujester’s managing director Sahil Shah.
So his company has come up with the idea of a self-service bucket list platform where customers can browse destinations and record where they want to go next.
Underlined by smart algorithms, customers’ preferences are mapped out after the answer questions on where they want to go and what they want to do over the coming years.
The idea is that companies can market to people planning holidays further in the future than is typical today.
“It’s a win win,” said Shah. “People get offers from companies for exactly where they want to go instead of being led by marketing. Travel companies get better customer retention and build a long-term relationship with their customer. They can plan their next one before they’re back from the first.”
He said this approach helps travel firms target their marketing spend, knowing that they are showing relevant offers to someone who has expressed an interest in the destination they sell.
“Because you have so much detail direct from the customer, it gives companies a really good opportunity to start that conversation and reach out to that customer,” said Shah.