Adapt or Die: The Changing Face of Travel

Published on May. 23, 2018

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Next to innovation, adaptation is one of the most important characteristics of a modern day company, both public and private.

Consumer habits, new products, streamlined services and data insights are in continual flux that can weather and shape an industry in just a few short years.

The travel industry tech disruption that has occurred is no different.

Since the advent of the internet, and more recently the smartphone, customers have been granted more access and powers to plan, book and control their holidays from the comfort of their own home; the rise of the internet has led to the downfall of the travel agent.

This was perfectly outlined in Thomas Cook’s $243 million loss in Q1, 2012.

At the other end of the scale, Airbnb closed a $475 million funding round at a reported $10 billion valuation last year, but less than a year later the sharing economy standard-bearer is worth over double that, $25.5 billion to be specific.

Priceline acquired meta-search provider, Kayak, for $1.8 billion in 2013, and in 2014, SAP bought Concur, a business travel and expense management software provider for over $8 billion.

These large figures represent a huge amount of optimism here, but also indicates travel industry tech disruption in the future.

The travel tourism sector generates around $7.5 trillion a year worldwide and accounts for 1 job in every 11, globally.

Looking forward and the industry is set to make up more than 10% of global GDP, and the entire industry will grow 5.4% annually over the next decade, according to Oxford Economics.

Not everyone will enjoy the rich pickings of this industry’s growth, however.

Like many saturated sectors, travel has become an increasingly fragmented, crowded and competitive area, forcing members to adapt. As smaller startups begin to thrive on a new breed of consumer, incumbents will be forced to protect and expand their business opportunities, making it more competitive for startups to succeed.

Other sectors that are experiencing effects similar to the travel industry tech disruptions in this Adapt or Die series, courtesy of, are retail, music, publishing and transport.

N.B. If you're a startup in the travel, hospitality, and tourism spaces, check out our accelerator and investment fund.