Building a Strong Team is Vital for Every Travel Startup

We’ve been writing this blog for a while now, and though we’ve looked at the ins and outs of the travel industry and the intricacies of how technology and global trends are changing tourism for the better, there’s one topic that we haven’t covered yet. Although it’s vital to every single travel startup out there, the notion of team building, of bringing together the right individuals to carry your ambition forward, is not something that’s widely discussed. Today we want to put an end to that.

So what makes for the perfect team at a travel startup? How important are the individual components in the context of the whole? How do you go about choosing the right people to join you on your journey to the top of the travel industry? These are the questions we’ll be delving into today.

The importance of a great team in the travel industry

Normally, successful startups require dedicated staff willing to go the extra mile when necessary. In the travel industry things are no different. There’s a reason that the majority of startups fail within the first two years: Setting up a new business is fraught with risk and potential mishaps. In the world of travel and tourism – which is cutthroat enough at the best of times – this point couldn’t be more pertinent. Customer loyalty is increasingly non-existent and online competition is fierce, so a strong group of individuals is key to ensuring that your startup stays on the right track.

Travel startup team build

Rocketrip

We spoke to Dan Ruch, founder of business travel startup Rocketrip, to gain some insight into the importance of a solid team when setting out in the travel industry. With Rocketrip, companies can empower employees on corporate trips by giving them a real-time ‘Budget to Beat’ and motivating them to save. This helps to keep travel costs down and gives businesses more control over their expenses.

So, what does Ruch look for when hiring new staff? Interestingly, he suggested that having experience in the industry isn’t a defining factor. Instead, it’s more about the personal qualities that a candidate can bring to the table. “Travel industry experience is less important than other attributes,” he said. Those other attributes being “a willingness to collaborate, a great work ethic, and imagination.”

travel industry building a great team

It takes a strong team effort to hold a steady course in the travel industry.

This is something that chimes with an interview we conducted recently in our in-depth look at corporate travel, with Beewake co-founder Jeremie Catez . He said that “in any corporation, but even more importantly in a startup, the team is the key to success, the same as in a relationship. Good teamwork is essential in all organisations. It signifies that people are working towards a shared purpose and common goals and in so doing they are sharing their varied skills in complementary roles and in cooperation with each other.”

Another point that Ruch made was the importance of a philosophy, of a shared goal and a team willing to invest their time and skills to make it a reality. Any startup team is going to be relatively small to begin with, so it goes without saying that each individual needs to understand what is expected of them and contribute to building positive momentum. “Conviction is one of the most important traits to look for”, said Ruch, “because at any startup, there will be plenty of long hours, moments of uncertainty, times when everyone’s stretched thin. Belief in the company and in the team is what gets people through these challenges.”

And one final factor in building a great travel startup team? According to Rocketrip founder Dan Ruch, it’s flexibility. Startups require a unique blend of people, and while Ruch emphasised the need for commitment and creativity, we liked his suggestion that “a willingness to take on new responsibilities” is vital, too. As travel startups grow, it’s only natural that job roles will evolve, so staff need to be adaptable and prepared to step up and try new things when needed.

Building the perfect travel startup team

team build travel startup

Build a great team at your travel startup

Get staff you need when you need them

In a classic Forbes article, Josh Steimle suggests that the two most important factors for building a startup team are identifying the areas you need filled and prioritising the order in which you fill them. Certain roles, such as sales and marketing, can overlap to an extent, so it might be a good idea to “find one person to take on multiple roles, at least initially,” he says.

He makes the important point that sales should be your priority. No travel startup is going to get off the ground without them, after all. “If I’m not bringing in deals, I have no reason to hire anyone else,” he says. Who comes next after a strong sales team depends completely on the situation at hand and the market you are targeting. It may be that you need someone to cover SEO, PR, or social media. If the sales are still flying in, that team might need to be expanded.

Have a meticulous hiring process

Your travel startup is your baby, the result of an idea that you’re passionate about and desperately want to succeed. Clearly, you shouldn’t take hiring lightly. So what does that entail then? Well, for a start, you’re probably going to have to interview multiple candidates every vacancy that you advertise. But just interviewing a bunch of people isn’t going to be enough. You need to interview them properly. You need to put them in different scenarios to see if they will suit your team and are a good fit for your startup.

Remember: Interviews don’t have to be formal. They don’t even have to be interviews. Just having lunch and getting to know each other, emailing or calling with a few questions – all of this can be part of an informal but thorough process. In short, you’ll probably want to spend a few hours with a potential addition to your team before you seal the deal. Depending on the role, it’s probably wise to give them a short test, too.

Why not consider freelancers?

Have you considered taking on some freelancers as part of your startup team? Freelancers offer the flexibility to suit your ever-changing startup environment. You can utilise their skills as and when you need them, developing strong working relationships with skilled professionals without having to commit to a long-term contract. For travel startups on a strict budget, freelancers can be invaluable.

Hiring a full-time member of staff at a startup is a big commitment. It also represents a risk if things don’t work out, or if you invest time and money in an individual who quickly begins to feel unsettled and wants a move elsewhere. On the other hand, if things don’t go so well with your freelancer, nobody has to get fired – you simply don’t call them again. Dynamic travel startups might be best advised to make use of contractors until there is a definite need for someone permanent in that position.

Having said this, freelancers, by definition, might not buy into your startup 100%, as they may be working with other clients and on other projects at the same time. If you want someone flexible but on board for the long run, you’ll have to search hard for a freelancer willing to stick around as you grow.

Flexible employees are relatively easy to find, with sites such as Upwork and PeoplePerHour connecting skilled freelance writers, developers, marketers and much more from all over the world. It’s up to you to discover the perfect fit!

Building a successful team doesn’t end with the hire

So you’ve put together the perfect team and you’re satisfied that all the component parts are in place to provide a strong platform that you can build on. Great. But it’s important to realise that building a team doesn’t end with the hiring process. It’s vital that you spend invest time and money in developing your staff and training them to be perfect for the roles you envisage. Unless you’re lucky enough to have uncovered the perfect employees at the first time of asking, gradually improving your staff is going to be a process requiring time and dedication. If you’ve hired well, each member of your team should have the willingness and the ambition to better themselves and improve at what they do, so it won’t all be down to you.

Travelshift: The perfect partner for travel industry startups

Our proven software helps ambitious travel startups make their dreams a reality. We give you all the tools you need to build a successful, thriving marketplace, kitted out with tried and tested solutions that help you dominate your chosen travel niche.

Having built our community-driven platform from scratch and taken the Icelandic tourism industry by storm, we’re ready to work with partners around the world, helping travel startups tackle the industry’s heavyweights.

Want to harness the power of our industry-leading marketplace software? Get in touch with us today to find out more.

Disruption in the Travel Industry: Seven Trends Worth Keeping an Eye On

Plenty is going on in the world of technology at the moment, and it’s only logical to assume that much of this will have some, if not a huge impact on the travel industry. Tech trends are already changing customer behaviour and expectations, and over the next decade or so these effects are only going to grow more pronounced. With a little help from a recent London School of Economics report into the future of travel distribution, this week we’re going to delve into what’s causing disruption in the travel industry…

Disruption in the travel industry

First of all, let’s take a look at seven disruptive factors outlined in the report, which are all set to increasingly influence travel sales across the next decade.

Disruptive factors in the travel industry – Now and in the near future

The way that customers make travel bookings is facing a range of disruptions, and it goes without saying that agencies are going to have to re-examine their business models if they want to stay ahead of the game. The LSE report identified five major disruptive factors. These are:

Changing traveller expectations

Consumer expectations have changed dramatically in recent years. ‘Change’ might even be the wrong word. Expectations have grown. Advances in technology, the proliferation of social media and the increasing ease with which goods and services can be purchased online, have all made the travel industry more dynamic and high pressure. Agencies are fighting to attract customers suddenly exposed to a huge amount of choice, and frictionless purchasing, inspiration, and personalised services are now all becoming the norm. If this isn’t going to change the way travel agencies do business, we don’t know what will.

An upsurge in mobile

The portability and increasing ease with which users can research and book trips on the go is causing a huge change in the way travellers interact with the industry. On top of that, it’s driving demand for 24-7 bookings and customer service. Mobile is also seeing significant growth in emerging markets, where it’s fast becoming the way to book over more traditional methods.

Big data and Artificial Intelligence

The huge amount of customer data at the disposal of travel agencies is allowing for more in-depth predictions and behavioural analytics than ever before. Not only that, modern-day computing power is also developing to deal with traveller requests in real time. Intelligent virtual assistants are increasingly being integrated into mobile devices and messaging apps, making truly on-demand service a genuine reality, not to mention a key driver of disruption in the travel industry.

Regulations

It goes without saying that regulators and governments have the power to influence the way the travel industry works. Whether it’s through enforcing laws on competition to restrict the burgeoning power of the sharing economy, or dealing with huge search engines that effectively control the flow of information. Over the course of the next ten years, the extent to which regulators intervene and limit the dominance of huge airline carriers and mega online travel agencies (OTAs) will be hugely important to the chances of success for smaller startups.

Risk and uncertainty

Terrorism and disruption in the travel industry

Security in Paris during Euro 2016

It’s no secret that traveller behaviour and ultimately bookings are impacted by wider global events. These include natural disasters, terror threats or attacks, and currency fluctuations. For a look at how politics affects the travel industry you only need to look at the fallout from Brexit or the recent terror attacks in Paris. Although risk and uncertainty are among the most difficult-to-predict trends in travel, what we can say for sure is that certain destinations will continue to be affected. North African hotspots such as Egypt and Tunisia have both been hit hard by terror attacks in recent years, while political crises in Turkey has cast doubt over the safety of another usually popular destination. As a result, we may see demand rise in traditional low-risk destinations, as well as a boom in staycations.

Virtual Reality and Robotics

How will virtual reality cause disruption in the travel industry

It might sound like a case of technology interfering where it has no business, but it turns out that virtual reality and robotics could have a big part to play when it comes to disruption in the travel industry over the coming years. Virtual reality is allowing agencies to effectively transport potential customers to their destination of choice, take guided tours of hotels from thousands of miles away, and immerse themselves in prospective accommodation. Robotics, on the other hand, is heralding in the dawn of a new age of customer service. When robotic tourism assistants can speak multiple languages and have access to all the information a tourist could possibly want, where will that leave traditional staff?

The Sharing Economy

It looks like the sharing economy is here to stay. If anything, traditional travel agencies are going to need to accept further losses in revenue to individuals taking the power of travel into their own hands. Startups that successfully integrate the sharing economy into their products and customer propositions will be able to get on board and ride the same wave in the coming years.

Disruption in the Travel Industry: The Continued Rise of the Gatekeepers

Something we touched on in the previous section was the rise of the Gatekeepers, the tech and industry giants that have and will continue to dominate search traffic and customer targeting online.

This trend, if left unchecked, will continue to play into the hands of the big players and those that work with them in the years to come. There are two ways that tech giants’ domination and continued growth will impact the travel industry. First of all, we’ve got the development of virtual assistants. We all know that virtual assistants have the potential to make the travel booking process easier for customers. Search times will be reduced and bookings will be more personalised. This in turn will be perpetuated by the huge amount of customer data that the tech giants will have. More data means smarter suggestions, more targeted advertising and a better experience for the customer in the long run.

It’s also likely that bookings will become more intertwined with social media sites. We already search for second opinions and share holiday snaps like they’re going out of fashion, so it’s only a matter of time before travel services become increasingly integrated with instant messaging and social platforms.

With tech giants such as Google and Facebook having so much power in terms of directing traffic, targeted advertising and data collection, airlines, hotels and travel agents are going to have to work harder than ever before, possibly seeking collaboration with peers or even with the big players themselves. New business models will need to be explored, and working with, instead of against, the gatekeepers may be the best way forward for ambitious startups.

Build a travel marketplace that can stand the test of time

In case you didn’t know already, here at Travelshift we build travel marketplace software that takes ambitious startups to the next level. Our custom-built solution allows you to setup a travel marketplace capable of dominating your chosen niche. All you have to do is aggregate suppliers and bring in potential customers.

That might sound pretty simple. Well, that’s because with Travelshift it really is. Our marketplaces are community driven. This means that you can harness the power of a passionate traveller community to produce and publicise truly engaging content that attracts your target customers. On top of that, our host of proprietary SEO features helps you rapidly grow a marketplace that’s discoverable, scalable and ready to take on big competitors from day one.

If you’re interested in finding out more about our software solution, get in touch today.

Gap in the Market Volume 8 – Corporate Travel

Corporate travel business trips meetings

As part of our Gap in the Market series, every so often we take a closer look at a particular travel industry niche. The general idea is that we provide ambitious business minds with the information, inspiration, and motivation to consider setting up a marketplace in that space. This week we’re delving into the world of corporate travel. Let’s get started.

So for those of you that are new to the concept, what is corporate travel, and what kind of services does it entail?

Corporate travel refers to travel for business purposes. In an increasingly connected and globalized world, companies are doing business across borders more than ever. And although Skype is great, often partnerships require international trips for meetings, conferences and the like. That’s where corporate travel agencies come in handy. They handle bookings for corporate travellers, transfers, flights and accommodation, along with anything else that might be needed for a successful business trip.

Increasingly it’s less about simply arranging travel and more about service in the corporate travel sector. Business travellers require ever more personalised bookings, from specific transport requests to workspace allocation and networking opportunities. The ability to meet these growing needs are what separate corporate travel agencies from the norm. We’ll touch on some of these later.

Corporate is one travel sector where loyalty still exists

It’s no secret that loyalty in the travel industry is a rare thing these days. With huge competition online, travelers booking trips for leisure and tourists around the world have a host of options to choose from. This means that loyalty, though hardly a thing of the past, is certainly on the wane. Customers will go first and foremost to where the price is right. But that’s not necessarily the case in the world of corporate travel. Businesses want to work with agencies that meet their needs and provide an excellent, reliable service. Tick those boxes and your very own corporate travel startup could be on to a winner, with loyal businesses that value consistency.

Corporate travel is more complex than you might think

When we break it down, corporate travel is a little more complex than its sister sectors in the industry. Think about the relationship between buyer and seller. The dynamic is different than with most travel transactions. First of all, the person making the booking is unlikely to be the person actually doing the travelling. Therefore corporate travel agencies are more likely to deal directly with admin staff representing companies, who are themselves acting as an intermediary for the travellers. So many corporate travel marketplaces will actually find themselves, despite already being essentially middlemen, dealing with others who are essentially middlemen as well. This is an interesting dynamic.

Especially when you consider that for the travel agency to deliver the perfect service, they’re going to need detailed information on the personal requirements of those travelling – a lot more than simply the date and standard of accommodation required. Of course, the end result is going to be the same. If the end user is happy, the customer is happy. But there’s no doubting the increased importance of effective communication for corporate travel bookings.

So what defines the happiness of corporate travellers? Well, according to research carried out by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), there are four key areas that impact upon business travel satisfaction. These are “booking”, “productivity during travel”, “tracking and reporting” and “personal life”.

Now, booking and productivity during travel both play a role in forecasting whether or not a corporate traveller is going to get back home satisfied with how things went. The same goes for “tracking and reporting” and “personal life”, but there is a slight generation split on just how important these final two factors are. Older travellers with families, for example, are more likely to care about having strong communication links while away on business. In any case, we can focus on the primary two drivers of business travel satisfaction: booking and productivity on the go. Booking is an easy one for agencies to get right. As long as the process is swift, efficient and self-explanatory, everyone’s a winner.

Productivity on the go, however, is more difficult for agencies to guarantee. They in turn will need to work with partners to ensure that all transport services and accommodation available are suitable for remote working, which may be easier said than done.

What does the future hold for corporate travellers?

While expenditure on corporate travel is growing globally, it’s difficult to say how it will go hand in hand with the also-rising trend of remote work. The sharing economy, the democratisation of space and more and more choosing self-employment may mean that corporate travel is going to continue to grow, but perhaps not as we know it in its current form. There’s no reason why business travel won’t also be disrupted by these emerging trends in the world of work and technology.

One great example in this exciting, developing space is Beewake, a corporate travel startup turning conventional business travel on its head. Instead of just sorting you out with a room for the night (not that there’s anything wrong with doing just that, of course) Beewake brings corporate travellers and vacant day spaces together. Through Beewake you can hire out office space, a meeting room or a hotel room as part of an on-demand service, whether you need somewhere to work, recuperate or get together with clients.

Sure, it’s a simple idea, but there’s no doubt that it’s tapping into where the demand is in the world of business travel. Corporate travellers want flexibility just as much as your average tourist.

Anyway, we got in touch with the team at Beewake to talk some more about their concept, the corporate travel market, and life as a young startup in the industry. Here are the highlights.

Beewake corporate travel

Beewake – On demand space for corporate travellers.

Every travel startup begins as an idea, as a moment of inspiration. And for Beewake co-founder Jeremie Catez, things were no different. 

Having worked in the hospitality industry for a decade, Jeremie had seen firsthand how the sharing economy and online travel sites were cutting into profits on the traditional hotel scene. He told me, “Hotels were doing a fantastic job of selling overnight stays. However, they never really sold daytime spaces, such as sleeping rooms or meeting rooms, despite the growing demand for daytime spaces from both business and leisure customers.”

And so Beewake was born. But despite the obvious appeal of the concept to both customers and hoteliers looking to utilise empty space, it hasn’t always been plain sailing. Jeremie described two challenges that they quickly ran into after setting up. The first was that “The hotels are professionals of space management, and while they are very organised, they are also very fragmented in the sense that there are hundred of hotels brands and even more non-branded properties, which means dealing with thousands of legacy systems (PMS, CRS and channel managers).”

On top of that, disrupting the most traditional of markets comes with its unique challenges. “The hotel industry has always focused on overnight business, and therefore we are facing some challenges in educating hoteliers about the daytime business opportunity,” says Jeremie. “At Beewake we are targeting the business travellers, but [in the eyes of hotelliers] daytime use is frequently associated with romance”.

Hurdles that need to be overcome are a standard part of any travel startup’s successful journey. Vital in finding the solutions and breaking through challenges are founders and staff working towards a shared vision with a genuine passion for the product on offer.

Jeremie Catez agrees: “I do believe that in any corporation, but even more importantly in a startup, the team is the key to success, the same as in a relationship. Good teamwork is essential in all organisations. It signifies that people are working towards a shared purpose and common goals and in so doing they are sharing their varied skills in complementary roles and in cooperation with each other.”

But while Beewake is clearly the result of a team with a passion for travel, the focus is very much on perfecting the product and making it as appealing as possible to corporate travellers. “From the beginning,” says Jeremie, “we have decided to invest time and energy in the product, since we believe that the product has to be perfect if we want people to use it. Our product is the most important aspect in our marketing, as without it there is nothing to be promoted, strategically placed and priced.

Beewake appears to be riding the wave of remote work at the perfect time. “We’ve definitely seen the evolution of the workplace in the last decade, and thanks to new technologies it’s now easier for people to work from everywhere,” says Jeremie. “Mobility and the cloud have changed the way that we work. Specifically, when and where we work. Now that cloud technology has made data and applications more accessible, productivity is not confined to the four walls of an office anymore.”

He explains that a recent survey of business leaders at the Global Leadership Summit in London found that 34% said more than half their company’s full-time workforce would be working remotely by 2020. A full 25% said more than three-quarters would not work in a traditional office by 2020. “This is not some far off, futuristic era,” points out Jeremie. “It’s four years from now.”

Beewake certainly seems to be on an upward trajectory, particularly given the growing demand for daytime spaces in the world of business, never mind the huge amount of potential space available in the world’s major cities. If you want to find out more about Beewake, you can download the app on Android or iOS, or visit the website: www.Beewake.com

Interested in setting up your own corporate travel marketplace? We can help with that.

So there’s our dive into the world of corporate travel. There’s no doubt that the way we work is changing, but as of yet it’s difficult to say how that will affect the industry that’s grown around business trips. Does more remote work mean a higher demand for daytime working spaces out of the office? Quite possibly. Does a more connected world mean that companies will have greater justification for sending employees abroad? Almost certainly.

In case you didn’t already know, our proprietary marketplace software is a powerful solution for any startup in the travel industry looking to bring buyers and sellers together. Our solution helps you aggregate sellers and build a popular, SEO-friendly travel marketplace, while a range of content marketing features help you shout just as loud as the big online players in the industry.

Contact us today to find out more.