Q&A with Paris Welcome City Lab and London Traveltech Lab
This year Travel Tech Conference Russia has partnered with 2 great institutions – Paris Welcome City Lab and London Traveltech Lab. Both organizations provide great support for startups in their area. We've talked with Laurent Queige of Welcome City Lab and Katelyn Hegarty of London Traveltech Lab on the role of incubators in travel tech community and opportunities they provide for their startups.
Q&A with Paris Welcome City Lab

When and how did your incubator emerge?

Le Welcome City Lab was founded in July 2013. It was the first incubator in the world completely dedicated to innovation in the tourism, travel, hospitality sectors.

What opportunities do you provide for startups and what are the terms to join?

We provide 4 services:

  1. We coach startups in all fields important for their success (marketing, digital strategy, sales, communication, distribution, management, international, legal context, finance, fund raising).
  2. We help startups experiment their products and services and find a experimentation terrain in Paris or elsewhere, in order for them to get a proof of concept (POC).
  3. We organize academy sessions for startups, to give them an opportunity to meet their future clients (major groups in tourism and travel) and learn from the best consultants.
  4. We provide our startups with regular analysis on the trends in tourism innovation, so they can have an insider view over the most up-to-date trends on their own market.
We launch a call for application every year in December to recruit our next batch of 30 startups. Startups on the short list are required to pitch in front of our steering committee. To keep posted and receive our newsletter, please leave your email address here.

What can you tell about local travel tech scene? How busy is it?

The Paris travel tech scene has made a tremendous leap for the past 4 years. The number of startups is booming. They now can have an easy access to venture capital and to a rich ecosystem.

Could you share few examples of prominent startups which went through your incubator or are part of it now?

Here are 3 examples of successful startups incubated in our offices:

  1. PayinTech provides connected wristbands that enable cashless transactions through an easy-to-use object. They are becoming the leading company in Europe.
  2. Guest to Guest is now the world leading home exchange website, with 300,000 homes registered. They purchased Homexchange, the American historic operator.
  3. Optionizr enables tourism companies to suggest the possibility to opt for an option, and thus keep their clients if they need more time to make up their minds.
(See Paris Welcome City Lab and its startups presentations at ITB Berlin 2017)

From your own perspective what areas in travel tech space do you see having most potential today?

The biggest potential today definitely lies in artificial intelligence, which enables new tools like digital travel assistants and chatbots.

The next revolution will probably take place in human resources, where many projects have been popping up for the past months. The future is not necessarily machines but… humans.

Any advice for startups trying to tackle travel tech space.

Read our next trend book to know more about the trends in tourism and travel innovation! It will be released on Tuesday, September 26th, 2017 on this page.

Q&A with London Traveltech Lab
When and how did your incubator emerge?
At the time of creation, no hub existed in the UK which focused solely on travel technology. However, both emerging travel technologies and a shift in traveler’s habits were creating a major industry change. We believed that building a hub which brought together the entire ecosystem would support these new technologies and demonstrate how the industry could keep up with these changes. Therefore, in 2015 the Traveltech Lab was formed.

The Traveltech Lab is the UK’s original travel innovation hub housing a growing community of early stage technology startups poised to disrupt the sector. The Lab aims to foster innovation, collaboration, and creativity while bringing together technology startups with major corporates and breaking down the barriers that can exist in them working together.

The Lab is a partnership between London & Partners, the Mayor’s official promotional agency for London; and The Trampery, specialists in innovative spaces to drive creativity and entrepreneurship.

What opportunities do you provide for startups and what are the terms to join?

We provide a stunning shared workspace overlooking the River Thames and Tower Bridge, a bespoke business and professional support programme and brokered relationships with over 400 world leading travel and tourism businesses. Our startups who chose to base their business from our Lab form our membership base. At any one time, we have about 35 members who can access our facilities and curated support programme. With an intention to promote collaboration across the membership, our policy is that no member can directly compete with another to ensure they feel confident and open to collaborate with and support each other.

However, as the Lab itself has grown we have become the recognised epicentre for those working at the intersection of travel and technology and so we set out to engage with a wider, global community of innovative businesses to facilitate further interactions and support across the community. As an example, we created the hashtag 'TalkTravelTech' across social media to cultivate a community of over 900 startups who use this tool to connect to each other and our opportunities.

What can you tell about local travel tech scene? How busy is it?
As the second most visited city in the World, London is synonymous with travel. Further, as one of the world’s leading technology hubs with an estimated ecosystem value of 44 billion dollars, London is the largest startup ecosystem in Europe. These incredible strengths in both travel and technology meant London should be the natural 'home' for travel and technology.

Specifically, our active community as a whole has seen phenomenal success since we opened the Lab in 2015 and continues to thrive.

Cumulatively, our 72 members that have been through the Lab have:

  • Raised over 20 million pounds in investment;
  • Won over 15 awards, including the prestigious Travel Technology Europe’s Travel Disrupt Award (2 years in a row!) and TechCrunch Disrupt Award Finalist; and
  • Have had the opportunity to attend over 80 events which have enabled them to network with and connect to senior industry leaders.
We keep our members busy with our business support programme which is tailored to the needs of our members from industry led talks, professional service support and lessons from established entrepreneurs.

Could you share few examples of prominent startups which went through your incubator or are part of it now?

Since we launched two years ago, the Lab has supported over 72 brilliant startups with our members raising over £20m in investment. From winning the TTE Travel Disrupt award two years in a row to being selected to join esteemed accelerator programmes such as Hangar 51 and WAYRA, and being shortlisted in USA Today’s Top 10 Best Travel apps; our members are consistently breaking ground and leading the way in the travel technology ecosystem.

The outpouring of support from the community has been overwhelming and allowed our members to achieve monumental success, as we have recently seen with Switch.cm being acquired by Flymya for $ 600,000 USD and Flyto winning 2017's Travel Tech Europe award for disruption only eight-months after its inception at Mastercard’s 'TripHack' hackathon run by the Lab. Other notable successes we’ve witnessed include Bd4Travel and Dufl securing their Series A round at $ 4.2 million and $ 5.7 million respectively.

These successes, in addition to the 15 other awards and nominations our members have clocked up since 2015 are a true testament to the disruptive powers and innovative ideas coming out of the Traveltech Lab.

From your own perspective what areas in travel tech space do you see having most potential today?

Many of the innovations that have come through our lab mirror the trends in travel which have emerged over the last five years, such as:

  • Mobile and how it can improve visitor experiences. The Bureau of Labour Statistics predicts that travel agent employment will decline by 12 per cent from 2014 to 2024, attributing the drop to the increased ease and popularity of online booking, notably on mobile devices. And these large travel businesses are increasingly looking to understand how they can identify and engage with startups to support this adaptation further.
  • Or authenticity where travellers desire real, authentic experiences which enable them to explore cities like a local.TripBarometer demonstrated that 69% of global travellers, of all age groups, were planning to try something new in 2016. This has allowed our startups offering real, authentic experiences to shine.
  • More recently we have seen a growinghealth and wellness trend. With an estimated 17 million travellers identifying themselves as being 'health and wellbeing' focused and 40% of these travelling regularly the scope to cater for this group is huge.
Any advice for startups trying to tackle travel tech space.

Never underestimate the importance of having a strong community around you. For the Lab to succeed, we need to cultivate a strong sense of community to help foster innovation. When you have a strong community, you are able to share more ideas, make more meaningful connections and learn best practices that can be monumental in your growth

Looking for support to get your travel tech startup off the ground? Join our community today and let us help you grow. Apply today at traveltechlab.london.