The Travel Sphere

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If you’re a travel industry fanatic, then you’ve probably also noticed the spike in announcements lately regarding funding, startups and new categories within travel. I’ve been amazed at some of the deals and some I’ve expected for a while.  One thing I do appreciate is these big advancements are being made by all the new startups in the industry.

I’m happy to see the beginnings of the social graph infiltrating new ideas in travel. Companies like GTrot, Gogobot, and Scoville are taking check-ins and starting to aggregate a list of where your friends and their friends have been to help you plan travel better. I’m very interested to see where this segment goes and how it will develop. However, from my perspective, this could take a little while for traveler check-ins internationally to catch up with these websites. From what we’ve learned not many travelers are partaking in the “check-in” phenomenon while global for a number of reasons. I’ll be interested to see if and how these companies get creative to bridge the gap quickly.

Deals like AirBnb’s massive valuation and fundraising achievement this week is something I don’t think the travel industry has seen outside of HomeAway in a while. I have always found the AirBnB model interesting, especially being a Couchsurfer this type of site doesn’t appeal to me – as I think of a couch exchange as part of a greater cultural exchange – but as they have added actual vacation rentals I can see the appeal. They’ve hit a younger generation with their fabulous iPhone application and their overall concept, giving it a different market form HomeAway with mainly family vacation rentals.

The big news for me of the week is the Groupon/Expedia partnership to start releasing flash type travel deals! From what I can tell this will definitely be more overarching vacations from a particular city. The question then remains, will they eventually be able to transition this into more hyperlocal deal in the future? From my time living abroad and working with tourism companies in South America, i’m not sure this is coming anytime soon from an international perspective. In addition, Tnooz has discussed in the past the problems with Groupon and Travel Companies. BUT the release of this product marks a new and interesting twist to the Flash Sales segment in travel.

Overall very interesting subjects to discuss in the world of travel this past week. Can’t wait to see whats in store!

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