The 11 Travel Startups to Watch Out For in 2020

By Kristi Choi Published on Dec. 24, 2019

When Airbnb was founded in 2008, few industry professionals thought that the company was anything more than a flash-in-the-pan. Now, 10 years later, Airbnb has transformed the travel and hospitality sector and redefined how an entire generation approaches travel. 

Airbnb redefined “hospitality” within the overall travel experience while challenging the traditional hotel and lodging experience. So how can big corporations avoid getting “Airbnb-ed” in the future?

Don’t get “Airbnb-ed” by the next travel & hospitality unicorn

While some travel players go it alone, others recognize the value of joining established innovation ecosystems. Jumping into a network where partners, entrepreneurs, Venture Capital Investors, and high energy events catalyze new thinking and opportunities helps overcome the corporate inertia that stifles innovation.

The travel startups you should be watching

Corporates that want to stay ahead of the market must keep a close eye on which startups are gaining market traction – both directly within and adjacent to the travel and hospitality industries. Similarly, early-stage startups should look to the disruptors in the space for inspiration and insights into what it takes to be successful. Given Airbnb’s 2020 road to IPO, we included a couple of alternative accommodation startups, adding up to a total of 11 startups that are making waves and getting great tractions, some of which are also getting big investor valuations: 

  • Timeshifter: Timeshifter allows users to create their own personalized jet lag plans based on their sleep pattern, chronotype, itinerary, and other preferences. They have a partnership with Montblanc and have already earned business from United Airlines. 
  • Sherpa: By 2020, people traveling to over 101 countries will need an electronic visa. Sherpa enables Airlines, OTAs, and Travel Providers to distribute eVisas as an ancillary service. They are backed by a notable early-stage VC based in Palo Alto. 
  • Journera: Journera’s real-time data exchange platform informs travel companies what’s happening on their customer’s trip in real-time. The company is led by an industry veteran, Jeff Katz, who delivered his keynote at our 2019 Winter Summit.  
  • Duffel: Duffel provides an online platform that allows users to search, book, and manage flights from multiple airlines. It recently closed a $30 million Series B round and was a member of the inaugural cohort of Accelerate @IATA.  
  • Groups360: Groups360 provides software and services to meeting planners to help them find, source, and contract with their destination markets and hotels. They completed a $50 million corporate round in 2019 with investment from Accor, Hilton Worldwide, IHG, and Marriott International. 
  • Migacore: Migacore is an early-stage startup focusing on bringing predictive demand forecasting for airlines. They were one of the first startups that joined IAG’s Hangar 51.
  • Uplift: Uplift enables travel providers to offer flexible payments to their customers. They have raised over $470 million in funding and partner with travel brands like United and American Airlines Vacations. 
  • Coras: Coras is changing the way tickets are sold online by enabling the biggest online brands to sell tickets through a single API connection. 
  • Htrip: Htrip is on a mission to upgrade interactive TV, WiFi, and IoT hardware in hotel rooms by combining it with the hotel’s original PMS management. This Chinese startup recently completed a $14 million Series A+ round of funding. 
  • Vacasa: Vacasa is a vacation rental management company that helps homeowners buy, manage, and sell their vacation homes. They have raised over $500 million in VC funding. 
  • Beyond Pricing: Beyond Pricing is the first and most popular revenue management and dynamic pricing software for over 120,000 Airbnb listings worldwide. They have raised $42.5 million in Series A funding from Bessemer in late 2019. 


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