Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Partnerships in Travel Are Key to Growth

Disruption in the travel industry is the new normal. A rapid pace of innovation and consolidation is forever changing the travel landscape and it doesn’t show signs of slowing down any time soon. Now more than ever you need to understand key market trends to determine how you will be hit and how you can grow.

Travel brands need good relationships with all their partners but it’s not always the obvious players that will sell the product. Distribution execs need to work harder than ever to identify the owners of profitable niche communities and understand that whilst pricing is a key driver in our consolidated and competitive industry, innovative distribution strategies will make you profitable.

You need to provide your customer with an experience which genuinely enhances your product offering. You need to take advantage of innovations in technology that will enable you to partner quickly with new players, experiment safely and still provide a seamless and consistent experience at every touchpoint. You need to cut the rising cost of acquisition and understand the true value each distribution partner.

 “It’s understanding which distribution partnerships work in our mobile age and then bringing together a heady manipulation of consumer insight, clever analytics and valuable products. This will make you useful and trusted and therefore profitable,” Says Tim Gunstone, Managing Director, EyeforTravel.

Recent research in preparation for EyeforTravel’s flagship event TDS N. America 2016 (Las Vegas, October 6-7) has revealed just how much travel brands are fighting to keep up with the rapid pace of technological change which is impacting the industry and which areas need to be addressed in order to drive growth.

50+ speakers will cover the biggest trends and challenges relating to distribution, revenue management, marketing, mobile and analytics. In addition, as customer experience has come up as a dominant theme in this year’s research there is a track dedicated solely to strategies which will engage and delight your customers.  To ensure no stone is left unturned the new for 2016 Spotlight On track explores key innovations in ground transportation, corporate travel, property management companies, group travel and how travel suppliers can forge better partnerships with these vital areas of the industry.

Speakers include Dan Christian, Chief Digital Officer, The Travel Corporation, Bill Keen, VP Mobile & Guest Experience, IHG, Sangita  Woerner, VP Marketing, Alaska Airlines and Todd Henrich, SVP Corporate Development, Priceline.

For more information about the event, check out the event website or get in touch with me at

Julia Heighton
Global Conference Director, EyeforTravel

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Consumer confidence or consumer caution? The changing face of travel spending patterns

Three weeks ago I opened our European Summit in London. On the downside this turned out to be quite nerve-wracking and stressful. On the upside, it got me thinking about the state of the travel industry and led me to some interesting conclusions. Essentially, I wanted to ask whether we should be hiding under our beds, fearful of the future, or rubbing our hands with glee?

Well, firstly, we travel professionals are almost inevitably industrious, intelligent and devilishly good-looking, so no worries there. However, on a macroeconomic level things seem a bit more worrying. Slowing global growth, weaker developing economies, market instability, plunging commodity prices, high public and corporate indebtedness, the fragility of the European Union – these are all causes for concern and I could go on. It is certainly a materially weaker outlook than in 2015. Several central banks have thrown everything in their arsenal at trying to stimulate growth and inflation, encountering mixed results at best.

Within this context, it may seem all doom and gloom but there is a subtext that is critical to travel i.e. consumer spending and the way it is changing. Although median incomes have remained relatively static since the recession, consumers are spending more and critically, they are apportioning more of this spending to tourism and travel. Indeed, consumer spending is driving much of the remaining growth in developed economies.

So, on to the data that demonstrates these trends. In both graphs I have plotted wider spending against travel spending. The top graph is for the US where spending on durable goods and the value of goods imported (measures of spending physical items) have increased – albeit at fairly pedestrian rates since 2011 – whereas tourism spending growth has accelerated each year to a high of just under 16% last year. Similarly in Europe, as shown in the bottom graph, total spending has risen 7.9% since 2011 but the combined travel and tourism spend has risen 13.2%. Some of the individual components for this are displayed here as well, with transport services (passenger transport by all means) performing particularly well. 

Source: US Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Eurostat

I note the lack of rising incomes in particular because this should indicate a depressed outlook for the travel industry. Realistically, travel is a luxury good - or in economic terms an elastic good - to be put on the back burner in hard times. Therefore this potential trend is even more exciting because it is happening in spite of conventional wisdom.

It’s early days but this trend appears to be continuing into 2016. As I noted above, the growth outlook is weaker than in 2015 and consumer confidence is down, plus UK and US consumers are saving more of their income. However, travel spend remains robust.

So, hopefully this has given you a little bit of hope to ward off the negative sentiment bursting out of most news providers. Of course, we remain vulnerable to a recession but if this trend does continue to be supported by the data then we can expect tourism and leisure to be one of the strongest performing sectors over the next decade.

Alex Hadwick

Head of Research, EyeforTravel

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Hear ye, hear ye - EyeforTravel has a podcast

We are pleased to announce that we are now running a podcast, which you can find here, or you can listen and subscribe over at SoundCloud. In these podcasts we aim to bring you the latest in thought from around the travel industry and beyond.

In episode one we talk to a petrochemicals expert about oil, which is a critical driver for airline profits and strategies. Also available is episode two, where our head of research gives an overview of what to look out for in 2016 across the global economy and the travel industry.

We will be following this up with a podcast at least every two weeks. In these the EyeforTravel team will be speaking to leading executives in the travel industry, presenting their own findings or just generally discussing critical topics in travel. We aim to bring you new perspectives and angles on the big stories in travel so you are best placed to make the changes that matter. 

As a hub of the travel community we have been in conversation with the industry for 20 years.We are therefore always on the lookout for people to speak to and contribute to our podcast. If you would like to feature in one of our podcasts then please send an email to:

Thanks for reading and listening,
The EyeforTravel Team

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Pitch your startup to the biggest investors in the European travel space

Be the best on line travel start up in 2016!

Pitch to the biggest investors in the European travel space, including the founders of STA Travel, Holiday Autos, CEOs and heads of travel-focussed investment funds – 1 week left to apply

London April 19-20:  The Start-up and Innovation in Travel Awards, Tower Bridge Hilton, April 19-20 can change your business. It is the annual competition that allows innovators and start-ups to pitch their product straight to 10 of the biggest investors in European travel innovation and potentially 400 heads of marketing, distribution and ecommerce from the world’s top hotels, airlines, OTAs, travel groups and ground transportation providers. Exactly the people who will pay your start -up wages. See the attendee list here

Crucially our awards are subsidised by the Travel Distribution Summit. Unlike our competitors we don’t try and make struggling start-ups invest their valuable marketing dollars. We provide, at cost, an unbeatable forum for you to talk about your innovation in front of 10 judges who have an unbeatable record of spotting the winners in this space.

The competition kicks off with a ‘boot-camp’ style session.  Audience members will have the opportunity to quiz 10 of Europe’s top travel entrepreneurs including Clive Jacobs (founder of Holiday Autos), Dick Porter (founder of STA) and Jason Katz from Kings Capital, (the man that reunited the 2 Hilton Hotel groups). The judges, all entrepreneurs/investors with proven investment credentials will be on hand to share vital tips you need to succeed. 

The next stage of the competition gives the start-ups and innovators a chance to pitch to these judges:
  • Jason Katz, Partner, Kings Capital
  • Timothy Hentschel co-founder and CEO, 
  • Callum Lee, Investment Analyst, Angel Capital Group
  • Clive Jacobs, Chairman, Travel Weekly Group
  • Sean Seton-Rogers, Partner, Profounders Capital
  • Suzanna Chiu, Principle, Amadeus Ventures
  • Charlie Woolnough, Hedge fund professional, Quorum
  • Christopher Persson, General Partner, Recapex
  • Stephane Cheikh, Ventures and Innovation Manager, SITA Ventures
  • Dick Porter, Portfolio Chairman and Investor (founder and former CEO, STA Travel)

Our judges choose the 2 best companies to pitch again during the keynote debates of the Travel Distribution Summit, Europe’s biggest meeting of online travel, and distribution experts. This audience decides on the winner.

The potential for innovation in our sector is still huge. There may only be room for 2 really big, all singing and all dancing OTAs, but high growth companies such as Airbnb, Uber and Skyscanner are all the proof you need that travel start-ups and innovators can disrupt and thrive.

Since 1997 EyeforTravel has identified these companies. With mobile, data, and social media driving how we purchase travel at a frenetic rate, this year’s awards are once again set to reveal a future success.

“EyeforTravel’s Start-up & Innovation Awards are an affordable way for Europe’s travel start-ups and innovators to talk about what they are doing to a highly influential audience and get a foothold in the cut-throat online travel industry,” says Tim Gunstone, MD, EyeforTravel.
The Summit is packed with networking and strategy setting opportunities. Marketing and distribution deals abound at the event and for decades travel start-ups and innovators have attended to get the advice, contacts and potentially the investment they need to succeed.  

We have 2 spaces left. EyeforTravel’s Start-up Awards are open to all travel start-ups or existing companies that have launched a new industry shaking product or service.  All entries must be received by April 10, 2016. 

For all event enquiries contact:

Tim Gunstone
EyeforTravel Ltd.
London, UK: +44 (0)207 375 7557
US Toll Free: 1 800 814 3459 ext. 7557

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Congratulations to EyeforTravel's Startup Village Winners!

As part of EyeforTravel's San Francisco Summit (March 14-15 2016), we teamed up with Amadeus and Travel Startups to showcase the best up-and-coming companies in the travel space. The day saw successful entrepreneurs and investors take to the stage to face questions from the eager startups, culminating in the pitches in the afternoon.

The Entrepreneur panel included:
  • Heddi Cundle, Founder, 
  • Jim Pickell, President,
  • Gadi Bashvitz, Founder & CEO, OLSET
  • Kerri Ann Zeil, Director, Amadeus for Startups 
  • Sara Margulis, CEO, HoneyFund

With the investor panel forming of:
  • Nancy Hayes, Managing Director, Golden Seeds
  • Saaed Amidi, CEO and Founder, Plug and Play Tech Center
  • George Arabian, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, Steelhead Ventures
  • Roopak Pati, Investment Banking Associate, Needham & Company

In the latter half of the day, startups ten had 10 minutes to pitch to our audience and our judges to be crowned the Startup of the Year. The judges marked each pitch on 7 criteria, including viability of the the company, uniqueness of the product and the innovativeness of the idea. 2016 turned out to be the closest year to date, with the top 4 being nearly indistinguishable, only separated by 2 or 3 points!

The 2016 runner up was Seatwizer, a service which allows users to compare like-for-like seats from competing airlines to see exactly what you are paying for and how you can get the most comfort for your money.

The winners of the day were the team at Grabr, the on-demand delivery service which allows users to get anything they want from anywhere in the world, delivered for by a traveller. The service has already delivered thousands of orders, and could be the best way to get your favourite items delivered from the USA, Europe and beyond!

Thank you to everyone who got involved with our Startup Village and the San Francisco Summit as a whole, we had a great time running the event and hope to see you next year!


Monday, 14 March 2016

Should hotels be worried about Airbnb's business travel plans?

The hospitality industry has been one of the most vocal opponents of Airbnb's unfettered expansion. Industry bodies have regularly pushed for for increased oversight and regulation. This is not without reason, as it now claims to have over 2 million listings worldwide. To put that in perspective, the new Marriott-Starwood merger has 1.1 million rooms in its global portfolio. However, to date one of the key advantages hotels had over Airbnb was the business travel market. Convenience, facilities along with security of location and payment helped to differentiate hotels and convince business travellers of their value. However, Airbnb has announced a major assault on this last redoubt, so should hotels be worried?

Well just in our office, two of my colleagues are staying with Airbnb during our San Francisco summits. On a less anecdotal level though, there seems to be some strong evidence that Airbnb is making inroads.  It has assumed an aggressive strategy, deepening its value proposition to business travellers with greater screening of listings, new search functions, and tools to make business travel easier to pay for and more accountable.

The end results seem to be an accelerating rate of growth. Certify, a travel expense software provider reported that US growth from Q1 2015 to Q2 was 143%. This has shot up to 261% growth in the US across the whole of 2015 and 249% internationally. Furthermore, they found that users were rating their stays higher on Airbnb than hotels.

A recent and comprehensive study from the University of Boston does give some hope though. It found that hotels with dedicated meeting and conference spaces were some of the least affected by the introduction of Airbnb. Overall, it found that in cities with at least 100 Airbnb listings, a "10% increase in Airbnb supply is associated with a statistically significant (p <0.01) price decrease of 0.19%." This may not seem a lot, but given Airbnb's growth, it quickly adds up. Hotels without meetings and conference spaces suffer a further fall in Average Daily Rate (ADR) when compared to hotels with these facilities. The paper calculates the loss at 0.15% per 10% expansion of Airbnb supply. If you haven't already read the study, you should definitely give it a read.

Given the lucrative nature of the business travel market, hotels should be concerned about this growth. However, business users are looking for a degree of reliability that Airbnb may never fully reach. Clearly, they also expect more facilities both in terms of convenience and comfort, with meeting and conference spaces creating a premium and also luxury hotels seeing the lowest negative effects from Airbnb. However, hotels will need to advertise these facilities better, maximise business loyalty rewards and pick up their game, particularly in terms of business guest satisfaction, to prevent haemorrhaging valuable business bookings.

You can hear directly from the Airbnb team at TDS Europe 2016, where James McClure, General Manager UK & Ireland, is speaking. This event is being held on 19-20 April in London. We also have presentations from Airbnb in our On Demand library.

Alex Hadwick

Head of Research, EyeforTravel