Travel Innovated: Who Will Own the Customer?

Travel Innovated: Who Will Own the Customer?

          
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Travel Innovated: Who Will Own the Customer?

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  • Follow the Money: Three Trends in Travel Investment

    Change is coming; consumers want it. They are quick to flock to new services that provide improved options, increased convenience, or just a better experience overall. Consider the extraordinary success of Airbnb and Uber—or BlaBlaCar, a French company that connects drivers who have empty seats with passengers looking for a ride, including for longer-distance journeys traditionally taken by train or bus. Bla-BlaCar has 20 million members in 19 countries and offers more than 2 million trips at any one time. “The model we have was to create a massive European footprint, and then a massive global footprint,” Nicolas Brusson, the company’s chief operating officer, told the Wall Street Journal in December 2014.

    This time, the change won’t involve only global distribution systems (GDSs) or online travel agencies (OTAs), but also a potentially more disruptive one-two punch of big tech players and small tech start-ups that can reshape—and, from the consumer’s perspective, improve—what consumers see as a disjointed and cumbersome travel experience.

    There’s ample capital to back those driving change. Tech giants such as Microsoft and Facebook have deep pockets and big ambitions. An increasing number of start-ups, including Airbnb and BlaBlaCar, have entered the travel sector in recent years with plenty of funding behind them. In the past three years alone (through the first half of 2015), travel companies—not including on-demand transportation companies such as Uber and Lyft—have received more than $4.5 billion in investment.