Top travel innovators on the hotbed of the travel start-up scene go head-to-head

From a bucket list fare compare app to a budget tool with a personal twist, a locally curated box of surprises, tickets for Africa and more, start-up fever is coming soon to San Francisco

Some start-ups fail because they can’t outline their value proposition in less than three minutes. Others don’t make it because their management teams lack the necessary breadth – both in scale and expertise. Some founders are too precious to part with equity and so fail to scale in good time. Many fail because of a lack of commitment (starting up isn’t easy!) or, quite simply, because the idea wasn’t good enough.

As Drew Patterson, founder of Room 77, pointed out earlier this year (How to Prepare for the Start Up Slog, Jan 15), the travel industry often inspires entrepreneurial thinking because travel is so irresistible - people love to travel and feel passionate about travelling, and they want to solve a problem they have faced on trip.

Not all, in fact probably just a few, will succeed but the finalists in EyeforTravel’s upcoming Start-Up Awards certainly prove that there is no shortage of people willing to give it a bash.

Next week in San Francisco those fledging firms will stand before a panel of experts to find out if their start-up idea stacks up.

“It’s been really tough but we have now narrowed it down from 28 entrants,” says Gina Baillie, EyeforTravel’s GM.

And they are:

·         Bellhop

A mobile app that acts as a personal concierge for travellers globally, Bellhop’s claim is to make all service requests just a button click away. The USP: Bellhop is building a global community of hotels in which they act as the primary service providers.

·         Tripnary

Tap in your bucket list on Tripnary, a free iPhone app, and you’ll have a better idea of where to go, while also comparing airfares to every destination on that list. Think of it as Pinterest meets Kayak.

·         Spacebase

Could Spacebase be the Airbnb of the meetings world? This global booking platform for event locations and meeting spaces, gives event organisers access to unique locations and space providers a spot to advertise to a ready-to-book user base.

·         Africa Bookings Ltd

With Africa rising and its travel industry opening up, Africa Bookings could be on to something. With both a B2B and B2C arm, this is a channel for online bookings for accommodation for consumers and agents across Africa. What the company has to say: “This is almost unheard of in many parts of Africa so we are pioneering here what is commonplace elsewhere in the world.”

·         Tripstr

Sharing platform and discovery engine Tripstr 2.0 is Instagram meets TripAdvisor. Its aim: to help answer the question ‘How was your trip?’ through photos, videos and the actual places you visited. Tripstr lets you tell your travel story quickly and beautifully, and in the process turns photos into actionable itinerary items that your friends can save for future trips.

·         HelloShift

HelloShift is what every front desk staff member needs to keep on top of the guest experience and pass on relevant information to colleagues. It’s built for the shift-based workforce that hotels usually employ and is now being pioneered by companies like Slack, Trello and Yammer. From the company’s mouth: “We have packaged the relevant features from these tools into a simplified interface optimised for the way shift-based businesses work, and accounting for the various skill levels of the workers.”

·         Tripcipe

In search of the recipe for the perfect trip comes Tripcipe, another trip-planning tool that aims to a help travellers save time. Most travellers today consult at least 5 different websites to figure out what to see, eat, or do on their vacation. Now, instead of copying and pasting into Excel and Google Maps, you can use the Tripcipe plug-in to easily save information from any webpage.

·         Goconnekt

Convenience, quality and affordability is the claim of Goconnekt, a short-term WiFi hotspot rental service for travellers. What it offers international travellers is on-the-go 4G internet rather than an exorbitant data roaming bill.


Travelling on a budget? PalPrices is a fresh approach to helping travellers budget intelligently. Tap in your personal preferences and expect an intelligent twist on your budget calculation. Think: What is the cost of a weekend in New York City including nightlife and museums, but saving money on accommodation?

·         Proxce

Not everybody wants to queue at the front desk. Enter Proxce, which uses iBeacon and geo-fencing technology to automatically check guests in and provide keyless entry to the hotel room.

·         ITeXplorer

With self-confessed audience of travel professionals, consumers, corporate travellers, ITeXplorer Inc aims to deliver a real-time worldwide marketplace of travel services to its customers. In essence that means the ability to research, book, price and alter multi-destination itineraries from any device at any time before and after departure.

·         FLYR

Any data science company today also needs foresight, the name FLYR has given to its proprietary prediction engine. First conceived to relieve a universal pain point among travellers - the guessing game of booking airfares - by aggregating and analysing billions of data points now “ultra - relevant fare forecasts” are apparently possible.

·         Wellobox

Overloaded with data and recommendations on the best places to eat, see and explore. Wellobox offers a solution to this problem by allowing the traveller to purchase a locally curated box that is waiting on arrival, freeing them to immediately start exploring.

These awards are part of EyeforTravel’s brand new Start-Up Village programme, which will bring together travel entrepreneurs, investors and innovators to share thoughts, stories and ideas as part of a one-day start-up village and bootcamp.

Book your place to attend the final at EyeforTravel’s Startup Village here.

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