Three Reasons to Tackle a Travel Venture

I work with travel startups every day. I can honestly say I love my job. I get to listen to people’s stories, plans for how they want to improve the travel experience, and find ways to help them. Leveraging Sabre technology is just one part of the entrepreneur’s journey. There is a large, global community of incubators, accelerators, investors, and mentors who contribute their network and expertise—and Dallas-Fort Worth plays a large role in that community. Each entity shares a common goal to help startups become successful companies. Therefore, it’s important for Sabre to support different community players, locally and globally, as well. For example, we recently announced our sponsorship of London’s first incubator space for the travel technology industry, Traveltech Lab. We support organizations like Traveltech to foster the creativity that will drive our industry into the future.

While every industry has its own challenges, I continue to encourage entrepreneurs to consider the travel industry for three main reasons. I’d like to share these reasons with all aspiring startups, along with the stories of three Traveltech Lab founders.

All Backgrounds and Ideas Are Welcome

Sure, industry-related experience will benefit an entrepreneur—but it’s not a prerequisite.

Some founders possess a travel background like Alex Grant of Touriocity. While running a successful tour company in Rome, Grant heard feedback about one consistent need from his customers—more personalized, private tour options. Unable to locate a digital platform that provided a seamless experience for both travelers and independent tour guides, Grant created his own bespoke tour booking platform. By delivering unique content, Touriocity rapidly expanded out of Rome and will be operating in 50 cities by this December. Touriocity recently introduced a white label solution to large travel brands as well.

Sure, industry-related experience will benefit an entrepreneur—but it’s not a prerequisite.

Other founders come with little industry knowledge outside of their individual traveler experiences. Prashant Lagisetti, fueled by his personal travel desire to find authentic travel experiences, left his decade-long career in wealth management to create Localoids. Localoids is a community of travelers and locals who exchange culture, language, skills, and knowledge. This community extends to their strategic partners like Traveltech Lab, which help Lagisetti expand his network and knowledge in travel tech.

The Increasing Rate of Technological Advancement and Adoption

While television and radio were breakthrough technologies in their day, it still took several decades before they acquired widespread adoption. Cellphones and computers gained mainstream acceptance in a couple decades as faster advancements made them smaller and more affordable. As smartphones gain global popularity, they’re a serious contender to push the adoption curve under a decade. What’s next? Wearable devices, augmented, and virtual reality applications are already starting to influence the way we live, work, and travel.

Wearable devices, augmented, and virtual reality applications are already starting to influence the way we live, work, and travel.

Yigit Yigiter’s childhood consisted of trips with his grandparents to explore ancient ruins. Although this created a love of history and travel for Yigiter, he had to watch documentaries or rely on his imagination to visualize what people did there long ago. Yigiter left the corporate executive ranks in 2014 when advancements in virtual reality (VR) technology on smartphones allowed him to create a scalable business around his childhood passion. Timelooper is a mobile VR company that creates location-based immersive time-travel experiences targeting the most fascinating points of interest around the world. Yigiter actually wrote about Timelooper in his Harvard Business School application back in 2007 (yes, he got in). It took a few years, but it was worth it to see technology turn his vision into a (virtual) reality.

You’re Part of an Ecosystem Where People Help Each Other

Every business starts on the ground floor. I believe people are particularly eager to help startups because everyone can appreciate and relate to humble beginnings. The relationship between startups and corporations goes both ways. For example, at Sabre’s most recent hackathon, Destination Hack: London, our startup customers were the first to help spread the news among the developer community.

My colleagues and I try to help startups make valuable connections as well. “Sabre has been amazing at talking to us, getting an understanding of our business, and introducing us to clients who might be a good fit,” says Alex Grant, CEO and founder of Touriocity. “After the introduction, Sabre allowed us to meet with a prospective client at their office. As a result of this meeting, we’re working towards an agreement with them. We can’t thank Sabre enough for caring enough to help us through this entire journey.”

When a one-on-one introduction isn’t the right fit, we consider other marketing and networking opportunities as well. Since virtual reality is a hot technology, we invited Timelooper to host a VR challenge at Destination Hack: London to expose them to our wider ecosystem of customers and partners. The winning team of the VR challenge also won the 33 entrepreneurs prize, which included a trip to Bordeaux for mentorship in their accelerator program. The VR and travel startup community just grew by one more app!

“Any company with sufficient capital means can fund ventures with promise. However, not every company can provide the technology, platform, and ecosystem that enables new ideas to get off of the ground at the speed that is expected in today’s world. That’s where we come in,” says Sean Arena, executive director of new business ventures at Sabre.

Entrepreneurs have their own unique journey. We strive to listen and support as many as we can. So if you’re thinking about dipping your toes into a travel startup, go ahead and dive on in!

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Stephanie Lee is a senior manager of business development for Sabre Travel Network where she helps international startups and emerging ventures grow their business by leveraging Sabre’s vast portfol(...)

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