Travel Startups, Key Players and Businesses That Dominate Their Niche

With an abundance of travel experiences that are just a few clicks away, the world indeed has become a small place. The travel industry however is growing at a striking pace with more Online Travel Agents (OTA), tour operators, and travel activity booking sites entering the market every now and then.

According to Statista revenue in the online travel booking segment has amounted to US$238,142M for 2018. And it is expected to show an annual growth rate ( CAGR 2018-2022) of 8%  resulting in a market volume of US 4130,834m in 2022. In coming years travel industry will have the highest percentage of online payments as compared to other industries.

Thanks to the introduction and innovation in wireless technology, the tourism industry now supports countless number of organizations, city planning offices, consultants, tourism and hospitality institutions and other training providers.

With OTAs we can easily book flight tickets, hotels, travel activities and compare prices, offers making travel experience hassle free. Indeed, the graphical data below rightly shows how the growth in online travel sales worldwide.

There is a much wider view of the market trends in travel industry and one can draw more insights from travel agency industry statistics. And access to such information becomes crucial for business growth.

Every day, a new agency or tour operator launches an online business. They all provide various options for booking flights, cars, hotel, cultural attractions, adventures and other exclusive tours to their audience. After this quick analysis of the statistical data the following information provides 23 top travel startups to guide you on how to make a mark in the travel industry.

 

  1. Airbnb

Business Model –Marketplace model

What they do –Virtual marketplace and hospitality service to rent short term lodging.

Year of origin -2009, in San Francisco, California, United States of America

Revenue Model –Peer to peer network

Funding –Airbnb has raised more than $3 billion since its inception. They recently closed on more than $1 billion, with business value worth $31 billion.

 

Airbnb, the epitome of tourism startup ideas, is collaborating with a travel startup called Accomable providing activities for people with physical disabilities. Their website has over 500 listings covering more than 60 countries.

They have previously received grants from the Oxford University’s Saïd Business School and other angel investors. This accessibility investment by Airbnb will certainly make travelling much more feasible for travelers with disabilities.

 

  1. Homeaway

Business Model –Marketplace Model

What they do –A subsidiary for Expedia Inc., Homeaway is an online portal for renting homestays across the globe.

Year of Origin -2005, in Austin, Texas, United States of America

Revenue Model –Peer to peer networks

Funding – June 2017’s quarter ending saw a 31% rise in Homeaway’s revenue. Also, the adjusted earnings before EBITDA (interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) came 3% to $39 million. Confirming this, Expedia’s CEO Dara Khosrpwshahi said that the company is on its goal of obtaining $350 million in EBITDA by the end 2018.

Homeaway has come up with an innovative tourism startup idea. They collaborated with Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment Inc. and A+E Networks for the production of ‘Vacation Rental Potential,’ a non-fiction television series. They aim to show their audience that the dream of owning a vacation home is now very much possible.

The show went live on 09th December at 11:00 AM EST/PST. Because Homeaway focused on growing across the US, they added new domestic vacation destinations that include Oklahoma’s Broken Bow Lake, Iowa’s Spirit Lake and Texas’ Hill Country among many others.

Recently, Trivago also integrated Homeaway rentals into its search platform in early 2018.

 

  1. Kayak

Business Model –Marketplace Model

What they do –Online travel marketplace that searches many other websites to provide their users with flight, hotel and car rental options. Parent company is The Priceline Group

Year of Origin -2004, in Stamford, Connecticut, United States of America

Revenue Model –Meta-search revenue model, display advertising revenue model

 

In July 17’, Kayak launched a new feature where users could search for their desired location by using an emoji. Although this was a very creative idea, it ended up being a controversial topic as many cities ended up having the same representations. According to Kayak, a pizza slice could represent Naples, New Haven, New York or Chicago.

 

  1. Momondo

Business Model –Marketplace model

What they do –Momondo is an online meta-search engine providing travelling solutions to its users.

Year of Origin -2006, in Copenhagen, Denmark

Revenue Model –Meta-search revenue model, affiliate revenue model

The Company was acquired by the Priceline Group for $550 million in the beginning of 2017.

 

  1. Skiplagged

Business Model –Marketplace Model

What they do –Easy access to affordable flights using hidden city ticketing that offers big discounts.

Year of Origin –2013, in New York, United States of America

Revenue Model – Meta-search revenue model, affiliate revenue model

 

  1. Jetsetter

Business Model –Marketplace Model

What they do –Belonging to the TripAdvisor family, providing expert knowledge, insider access and exclusive deals in hotels around the world.

Year of Origin –2009, in New York, United States of America

Revenue Model –Meta-search Revenue Model, Display advertising and affiliate revenue model

Last in 2015, Jetsetter collaborated with USA Networks TV series Suits, giving fans a chance to travel to the set of Suits in Toronto.

 

  1. Booking.com

Business Model –Marketplace model

What They Do – Provide hotel, flight, bus, cabs, and other rental bookings

Year of Origin –1996, in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Revenue Model –Display advertising and affiliate revenue marketing

The Turkish Court banned booking.com from providing services in Turkey after a case was brought to them by the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies. The firms subsidiary in Turkey (booking.com Destek Hizmetleri Ltd.) also paid a fine of £550,000. In the interim, another case about whether the company needs a license to offer its services in Turkey, still hovers over booking.com

 

  1. TripAdvisor

Business Model –Infomediary model

What They Do –This travel site has more than 315 million members providing hotel/restaurant reviews, hotel bookings, travel forums and other travel related content

Year of Origin –2000, in Needham, Massachusetts

Revenue Model –Meta-search and affiliate revenue models

TripAdvisor launched a new mobile management center for both owners and managers on the iOS and Android Apps in June 17’.

 

  1. Expedia

Business Model –marketplace model

What They Do –Expedia dispenses travel bookings and related services using global distribution systems like Amadeus, Worldspan and Pegasus

Year of Origin –2001, in Bellevue, Washington, United States of America

Revenue Model – Meta-search and affiliate revenue models

The company announced its Q3 earnings recently in October, where the stock price plummeted by a drastic 16.5%

 

  1. Viator

Business Model –Aggregator model

What They Do –Online resource for researching and booking activities and tours from more than 2000 destinations.

Year of Origin –1995, in San Francisco, California, United States of America

Revenue Model –Meta-search, affiliate and advertising models

 

In October 17’, Viator started a booking platform for travel agents, earning them an 8% commission.

 

  1. OYO

 Business Model –Aggregator model

What They Do –OYO is an online aggregator for budget hotels in India

Year of Origin –2013, in Gurugram, Haryana, India

Revenue Model –Meta-search and affiliate Model

The Company acquired $10 million funding from China Lodging Group, a Chinese hotel management company in September ’17.

  1. Peek

Business Model –Aggregator model

What They Do –Marketplace for travel and various other activities across the globe.

Year of Origin –2012, in San Francisco, California, United States of America

Revenue Model –Meta search and affiliate revenue models

In April 17’, the company acquired the controversial travel startup ZOZI.

 

  1. Klook

Business Model –Aggregator Model

What They Do –This travel platform helps user’s search and book activities and other related services all across Asia

Year of Origin –2014, in Hong Kong, China

Revenue Model –Advertising and affiliate revenue models

Klook joined hands with one of the world’s leading retailer in duty free goods, LOTTE DFS to provide discounts for visitors in Korea. The company also landed a funding of $60 million from the American finance multinational, Goldman Sachs in October.

  1. Isango

Business Model –Aggregator Model

What They Do –Travel retailer for tours and travelling attractions around the world. They offer more than 10 000 experiences to choose from.

Year of Origin -2006, in London, United Kingdom

Revenue Model –Affiliate Model

Isango was last in the news when it was bought by the European tour operating giant TUI Travel in 2013.

 

  1. Explore.co.uk

Business Model –Aggregator Model

What They Do –Conduct small group adventures tours and vacations for all kinds of travelers.

Year of Origin –1981, in United Kingdom

Revenue Model –Affiliate and advertising revenue model

  1. Bemyguest.com.sg

Business Model –Aggregator Model

What They Do –Asia-based provider for travel options including tours and options.

Year of Origin –2012, in Singapore, China

Revenue Model –Affiliate and advertising revenue model

 

The Company bagged a funding round of $8.5 million from Boon Hwee Koh, Raffle Venture Partners and others.

 

  1. Tripoto

Business Model –Community Model

What They Do –Tripoto provides a travel platform for travelers to share their itineraries, tours and adventures.

Year of Origin –2013, in New Delhi, India

Revenue Model –Advertising, affiliate and Meta-search engine revenue models

 

The company was proud to launch what they called the world first virtual travel concierge in 2016.

 

  1. Lonelyplanet.com

Business Model –Community model

What They Do –In addition to being the largest travel guide book publisher in the world, Lonely Planet provides travel tips, advice, destination info and other related information.

Year of Origin –1972, in Franklin, Tennessee, United States of America

Revenue Model –Meta-search and advertising revenue model

Lonely Planet launched a second app called ‘Trips’ which is specifically designed to help you plan trips around the globe.

 

  1. Gadventures.com

Business Model –Aggregator Model

What They Do –Canadian tour operator providing adventurous tours around the globe.

Year of Origin –1990, in Toronto, Canada

Revenue Model –Advertising and affiliate models

 

The company acquired All Leisure brands Travelsphere and Just You in the beginning of 2017.

 

  1. Tripsavvy

Business Model –Infomediary model

What They Do –Dispense information regarding destinations, tours and travels, trip planning and travel inspiration

Year of Origin –May 2017, in New York, United States of America

Revenue Model –Advertising revenue model

 

It was in May 17’ only that about.com announced its closure under the leadership of CEO Neil Vogel as he felt that the company had lost its mind share and needed to start afresh and adopt a different marketing strategy. The company thus refurbished to come with new websites that include The Balance, Lifewire, The Spruce, VeryWell, TripSavvy and ThoughtCo. It was possibly among the best tourism startup ideas.

 

  1. Rei.com

Business Model –Manufacturing, subscription and marketplace model

What They Do –Short for recreational equipment, Rei is an American retail co-op for sports gear and outdoor recreational activities.

Year of Origin –1938, in Kent, Washington, United States of America

Revenue Model –Membership, purchase and freemium model

 

Rei.com was ranked #28 in the Fortune 100 Best this year. They also announced raising $1 million investment in non-profits with relation to women with the outdoors. They also celebrated the success of their Co-op cycling brand and announced the ADV and CITY cycle lines to come up with four new models in 2018.

 

  1. Travel & Leisure

Business Model –Infomediary model

What They Do –The famous travel magazine publishes content and destination guides on its websites.

Year of Origin –First issue in 1937, in New York, United States of America

Revenue Model –Advertising and subscription model

The magazine was bought by Time Inc. from American Express in October, 2013. In December 17’, they have released their picks for top trending vacation destinations in 2018.

 

  1. Inrepidtravel.com

Business Model –Marketplace model

What They Do –Largest provider of grassroot itineraries for small adventure groups.

Year of Origin –1989, in Melbourne, Australia

Revenue Model –advertising and affiliate models

 

The Australian company raised and distributed more than $5 million funds towards healthcare, human rights, environmental and wildlife protection and child welfare in 2016.

There is much more to the entire travel process & experience with the introduction of digital, virtual and mobile marketplaces. This has definitely created a void that is being filled by new travel startups every now and then.

There are many challenges that still need to be addressed like seasonal dependence, security & regulatory issues, inflation, taxation and currency rate fluctuations. Nonetheless, the future of travel industry looks bright as it has still managed to make use of latest trends like AI, wearable technology, QTrace and Robotics.

With holidays, adventures and business vacations on the mind of every traveler, OTAs & other similar startups are looking to a bright future in the coming years.

Author Bio

Jess, an Online Marketing Expert, is a columnist, blogger writing on technology and currently is a Marketing consultant for FATbit. A reader at night and explorer in days.

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