Expedia brands Hotels.com and Expedia Affiliate Network (EAN) have launched an accelerator programme in London to mentor European travel tech start-ups.
Hotel Jumpstart is designed to support start-ups working in the travel technology space by providing them with the workspace, tools and expert mentorship needed to take their business to the next level.
It will be based at the Traveltech Lab, which is already home to other travel technology start ups which was created by London & Partners, the Mayor of London’s official promotional agency, and The Trampery, specialists in innovative spaces to drive creativity and entrepreneurship.
Johan Svanstrom, president of both Hotels.com and EAN brands, said: “We operate at the forefront of the travel tech industry and pride ourselves on our ‘test and learn’ approach as a means to constantly innovate.
“Transferring this approach to empower start-ups is central to our pioneering ethos and we hope to learn as much from their journey as they learn from us. The initiative is open to any early to mid-stage travel technology companies in Europe. We would like to support entrepreneurs working on disruptive technology concepts applicable to online travel, with a focus around lodging.”
Following an initial selection process, five promising candidates will be selected to take part in the six-month programme that will see them access EAN’s full suite of accommodation via their APIs and apply these tools to their own businesses.
Experts from Hotels.com and EAN will lead the five finalists through advisory workshops covering topics from product development and machine learning to strategy, sales and marketing. The finalists’ package includes a shared workspace at the Traveltech Lab for the duration of the programme, access to the lab’s bespoke business support curriculum, and relationship-building networking programme with more than 400 top-tier tech founders and professionals.
Charles Armstrong , founder and CEO of The Trampery, said: “Hotel Jumpstart will combine the creative spirit and ingenuity of start-up innovators with the scale and expertise of Expedia, one of the world’s leading travel brands. It’s a stellar opportunity for start-ups to accelerate their business growth at speed, learning directly from those who have made their names in the same industry.”
Andrew Cooke, acting CEO at London & Partners, added: “London is Europe’s largest tech hub and one of the world’s most visited tourist destinations, making it the leading global centre for travel technology companies. Since the launch of the Traveltech Lab, a number of companies have significantly grown their businesses through support from the Lab’s network of industry leaders and I am looking forward to seeing how our start-ups and experts from Expedia can learn from each other and innovate in partnership.”
At the end of the programme, the five finalists will be invited to present their business models to a panel of specialist judges at a gala ceremony, attended by senior Expedia executives and employees, invited guests and selected media. Judges will select a winner who will receive US$10,000 worth of Hotels.com travel vouchers to go towards their business travel expenses.