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Venture Investment Trends and Startup Opportunities in Travel 2018

by Seth Borko, James O'Brien + Skift Team
Travel Tech

Skift Research Take

A record amount of venture capital was invested in travel startups in 2017 driven by unicorns, like Airbnb, emerging technologies, expansion outside of core geographies, and traction in new verticals. The industry is no stranger to disruption, but we may be seeing some of the greatest changes of the last two decades, and we expect this momentum to continue into 2018.

Report Overview

The travel industry is no stranger to disruption. Even so, some feel travel may be undergoing its greatest changes since the rise of the online travel agencies two decades ago, and much of that is coming from a new generation of startups and emerging technologies. In this report, Skift Research analyzes the rapidly evolving market for travel startups and their venture capital backers. Looking back, 2017 was a landmark year for VC activity, anchored by heavyweight travel startups such as Airbnb and Uber, which continue to raise capital while the industry awaits their initial public offerings. Incumbent players are feeling the pressure, and are responding with their own venture investments to buffer themselves. They are also planting the seeds of expansion by placing bets on a new class of travel startups outside of core geographies. Growing, and increasingly wealthy, consumers in Latin America, China, India, and Southeast Asia, among other areas, continue to lure new businesses and investment. At the early stage, innovation is thriving although founders face a funding gap, forcing many to bootstrap at the start. Exciting breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and blockchain threaten to unseat long-time incumbents. However, startups face challenges both in commercializing their tech and in convincing an, at times, skeptical audience. Elsewhere, verticals like tours and activities companies are rapidly consolidating while others are experimenting with business models, like subscriptions, that their sectors haven’t traditionally used. We expect last year’s startup momentum to continue through 2018 as these trends play out, underpinned by our optimistic economic forecast for travel.

What You'll Learn From This Report

  • The size of the travel startup financing market
  • Emerging changes in early stage investing
  • A deep-dive on trends in corporate venture capital investments
  • A case study of investments made by JetBlue’s venture capital arm
  • An overview of travel startup exits and corporate partnerships
  • How startup business models are evolving
  • A look at growth in Latin America, China, and beyond
  • Hot spots on the horizon for 2018
  • A look at heavyweight startup influencers and their year of change
  • Trends in verticals, including in-destination, car-sharing, and business travel, amongst others

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