Hotelbeds joins some other travel tech companies to look outside for innovative ideas. It’s not about adding a venture capital arm like some big travel companies have, but it follows a similar idea.
In a bid to accelerate tech innovation in travel, Hotelbeds is calling out to startup founders with ideas that could solve problems in the industry.
Hotelbeds’ primary business is the wholesaler of hotel rooms to travel agencies, but the company has been working to add other business-to-business technology products.
That’s where this 15-month program comes in, said José María Pestana, director of innovation at Hotelbeds.
Hotelbeds is working with Wayra, Telefónica’s technical innovation center, to identify worthwhile ideas that could result in a small cash investment from Hotelbeds as well as resources to develop a minimally viable product.
“The idea is to try to identify disruptive ideas,” Pestaña said. “We want to put innovation at the heart of our strategy. We see innovation as a key element that somehow ties together all the new projects that are ahead of us.”
This isn’t quite the equivalent of adding a venture capital arm like some big travel companies have, but it follows a similar idea. The point is that while innovation can sometimes come from within a company, it can also come from outside the company and an investment can eventually lead to a stronger partnership or acquisition if the startup is successful.
For the first Hotelbeds Challenge in the next two months, Hotelbeds is looking for an idea that can ease a traveler’s experience during the planning period, where the fragmented industry can result in the traveler having to complete the booking with multiple companies.
“We’ll see what we can find and what kind of agreements we can sign with these potential startups,” Pestaña said.
“The ultimate goal is that we try to ensure that we all create a seamless travel experience together.
Hotelbeds received a loan and a cash injection during the worst days of the pandemic, but Pestaña said the recovery, along with the rest of the industry, has been better than expected, particularly this year. Hotelbeds said in November it expects growth of 30 percent over the next 12 months. Hotelbeds had their best two weeks ever in January in terms of bookings and revenue.
Hotelbeds hired a new CEO, Nicolas Huss, in 2021 to help lead the next generation of the company and develop a range of products.
Generative AI in travel booking
Skift covered predictions and opinions about generative AI in relation to travel bookings. Here are three of the most interesting quotes from this article.
- Patrick Surry, Hopper’s Chief Data Scientist:
“I suspect this is just the beginning – we need to get back to basic principles and think a lot about how and why we do things the way we do.”
- Naren Shaam, CEO of Omio:
“If I were to make a prediction, it would completely change the way we create products as a travel company,” Shaam said. “I see this as a mega shift coming to the industry and we’re definitely looking at it seriously.”
- Travel Industry Veteran and Technical Advisor Marc Mekki on how small operators are being found as travel search shifts to chatbots:
“I think that’s the number one question for everyone to really stay up at night. You’re not going to get out of there with search engine optimization, so what are you going to do? They become more dependent on OTAs. OTAs are going to be the big winners here because they just don’t lose, and I’m afraid it will stay that way.”