Investment Themes

Our thoughts on the future of Travel, in collaboration with easyJet

Investment Themes

Our thoughts on the future of Travel, in collaboration with easyJet

Words Shona Chalmers

October 26th 2020 / 5 min read

The travel industry is facing one of its most challenging times, but we’re expecting the period to lead to some of the most cutting-edge innovation as the desire to travel remains.

From a renewed commitment to sustainable tourism, to tools which will enable the travel sector to save time and cut costs, here are some of the areas we believe will usher in the future of the travel industry.

If you're working on something in any of these spaces below, or have a novel travel idea, apply to join our Venture Studio or Accelerator Program.

What’s in store for Travel in a post-Covid world?

1. Predictive & Operational Efficiencies

Facing great pressure, businesses across the travel sector are seeking ways to minimise inefficiency in their technology, operations and business models. Tools that will allow them to cut costs, save time and cut steps in processes will become increasingly important in the current travel climate. Especially as tourism spending is unlikely to return to pre-crisis levels until 2024.

We are interested in businesses and tools that harness the power of data and predictive technology to streamline processes, prioritise delivery and mitigate issues before they arise.

"An awful lot of our priority is going to make sure we are understanding where the growing demand is coming from [and] how we capture that demand". A Sorenson, Marriott CEO

2. Repurpose Surplus

The ongoing upheaval caused by COVID-19 has led to an extreme surplus of supply and assets in the travel, events and hospitality industries. Empty hotel beds and venues, plane seats and space, unused event equipment and most importantly a largely redundant workforce, all reinforce the pressing need to focus on how we reimagine value from the untapped assets in this space.

A Snapshot:

  • International tourist arrivals are projected to plunge by 60 to 80 percent in 2020 (Source: Mckinsey)

  • Forecasts indicate that it will take four to seven years for tourism demand to return to 2019 levels, which means that overcapacity will be the new normal in the medium term. (Source: Mckinsey)

3. Seamless Travel

Cutting out time-consuming or unnecessary steps in the travel process has been the inspiration behind a lot of innovation. Now, with the pressing need for fewer physical contact points, exacerbated by COVID, we believe there is space to make the travel process yet more seamless and efficient, improving customer experience and further reducing touch-points.

From digital IDs and biometric technology, to pre-check services, ticketing and real time space monitoring, we want to hear from founders who are focused on seamless and safe travel.

A Snapshot:

  • COVID-19 is likely to accelerate the shift to digital as travelers look for flexibility and booking lead times shorten: more than 90 percent of recent trips in China were booked within seven days of the trip itself. (Source: Mckinsey)

  • Biometric Boarding: Beijing Capital International Airport has partnered with Swiss tech company SITA to automate entire passenger journey using biometric technologies. From the airport check-in and bag drop to security clearance and final boarding, passengers can just walk through the designated lanes equipped with facial recognition systems. (Source: Travel Daily News)

  • Contactless Hospitality: Dutch hotel chain citizenM has launched a smart mobile application to offer customers contactless stays at its hotels. The app helps guests to check-in and out digitally. Guests can also control lights, blinds and temperature inside their rooms using a smartphone.(Source: Travel Daily News)

Recently joined our Accelerator

Fetchy Fox is an AI-powered platform on a bold mission to build an inclusive, equitable experience for passengers with reduced mobility, by enabling frictionless ordering of food and retail at airports.

4. Staycations & Slow Travel

Environmentally conscious travellers and those wanting to connect to their local area on a deeper level gave rise to trends in staycationing and slow travel. Today, overseas travel restrictions and an increased desire to stay safe and healthy in controlled travelling environments, have seen these trends boom in recent months. For example, we saw the sales of tents and RVs soar over summer, and biking is booming in major cities offering people freedom without the need to rely on public transport. We want to explore what it means to Staycation and enjoy the journey in the 21st century.

A Snapshot:

  • The RV Industry Association saw a 50% increase in shipments this July, compared to 2019.(Source: WSBT)

  • At Halfords, sales of tent pegs are up by 45%, airbeds by 130%, gas stoves by 300%, cool boxes by 180% and camping chairs by 120.(Source: The Guardian)

  • AirBnb are promoting a ‘change of scene close to home’ campaign with nearby stays to ‘live, work or relax’(Source: Airbnb)

Born in our Venture Studio

Launched in the height of lockdown, Byway focuses on personalised flight-free holidays, with endless inspiration for local hotspots, hidden viewpoints and awe-inspiring detours - and none of the hassle of booking and co-ordinating it all yourself.

5. Nomadic Workforce & Half Holidays

As businesses across the board have been forced to adopt a remote-first way of working, we are witnessing one of the biggest cultural shifts of our generation. Many businesses have vowed never to go back to the traditional 9-5 office-based work week and many others still have promised much greater flexibility long term even when we emerge from pandemic-imposed restrictions.

Workers are figuring out how to make the most of their newfound flexibility with many recognising that this means they are no longer confined to one fixed location. The freedom of the digital nomad lifestyle appeals to many. Others are choosing the ‘Half Tourist’ lifestyle who combine working remotely with a change of scene.

A Snapshot:

  • Mid-term rental platform, Flatio, recorded a 20% growth in bookings year-on-year during the first nine months of 2020, and a 100% revenue increase in key cities. (Source: Sifted)

  • MBO Partners estimated there were 10.9 million digital nomads in the U.S. this year versus 7.3 million in 2019, a 49% increase. (Source: The Economic Times)

Born in our Venture Studio

Jurnee are on a mission to help organisations find new ways to safely connect with their teams as our work becomes increasingly remote.

6. Everything & Everyone Online

Historically, large parts of the travel industry operated offline, advertising and selling in real life. The world of travel has now exclusively moved online. We are looking for founders who are finding ways to bring travel businesses who still operate offline into the digital world. We see lots of examples of this (the lack of digitisation in camping, to high street tour operators, to travel experiences that have remained IRL only).

A Snapshot:

  • In 2019, more than 40 percent of US travellers used mobile devices to book their trips. (Source: Mckinsey)

  • In Europe and the United States, as many as 60 percent of travel bookings are digital. (Source: Mckinsey)

  • The commission rates on hotel aggregator platforms, which range from 10 percent for larger hotel brands to 25 percent for independent hotels, also make it difficult for SMEs to compete in the digital space.(Source: Mckinsey)

Have something to add? Say hi to us on Twitter

There has never been a better time to disrupt and reboot the travel industry. Are you working on something great in the travel space? Please get in touch.

Have an idea to disrupt the future of Travel?

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