Travo Start-Up Summit: Agility is an imperative in new era for innovation in travel

Travo Start-Up Summit: Agility is an imperative in new era for innovation in travel

The half-day event heard from co-founders from early-stage travel companies LuckyTrip, Alto Vita, We Road and Pinktada

by Josie Klein

The travel industry is in a new era of innovation and businesses must be agile and adapt to changes, according to a panel of speakers at the Travolution Summit 2022.

Delegates heard from a panel of business owners who each started their business in the years leading up to the pandemic.

Kirk Flitton, co-founder and chief commercial officer of holiday booking app LuckyTrip, said the “last two years of pain” had forced the sector to innovate which has opened up opportunities for start-up businesses and corporate companies to work together.

“I think there is more to do now in travel than ever, but with less resource, and when you are in that position it sparks innovation,” he said.

“It also opens up an opportunity for start-ups to work with more corporate companies and corporates will need to move fast as they have limited resources.

“I think because of COVID and the last two years of pain we have become a lot more resilient and very agile.”

Ronald Homsy, co-founder and advisory board member of Pintada, a primary and secondary market for hotels, said: “I see a lot of innovation happened during COVID.

“Businesses had to find creative ways of not spending marketing money but still became relevant.” He added: “I’m very optimistic for the future.”

Erika De Santi, co-founder and international expansion director of millennial-focused tour operator We Road, agreed and said: “I’m super convinced that the pandemic gave a massive boost to the industry, especially to the tour operating industry.

“[During the pandemic], more traditional tour operators started becoming more and more digital. So if in 2019 we were the cutting edge, operators started reaching us and we were like ‘no, okay, we need to keep innovating’. The whole industry can get the most of [innovation].”

Flitton went on to encourage attendees to adapt to changing technology and utilise popular social media tools to grow their businesses.

“We did our first paid Tiktok campaign in August which was just insane.

“We worked with 10 creators who were promoting the Lucky Trip concept and we had one of the creators go viral and literally overnight we had 2.5 million views and 45,000 downloads – to put that in context we’d normally have around 25,000 downloads a month.

“It was amazing and correlated to a huge spike in traffic and bookings. It’s a new channel for us and means we’re not overly reliant on Instagram as our main acquisition channel.”

Vivi Cayhadi Himmel, co-founder and chief executive of global accommodation platform AltoVita, warned against utilising innovative products for the sake of it, and encouraged listeners to do what is right for the customer.

“There is a lot of innovation out there but we must pick the right innovation when it comes to our target market.

“We need to be careful not to just shout about a tech company and say, ‘off you go, bye’, it’s about trust, credibility and nurturing the relationship. It has to be balanced.”