Eddy Travels closes pre-seed round led by Techstars to scale its AI travel assistant

TechCrunch | December 23, 2019

Eddy Travels closes pre-seed round led by Techstars to scale its AI travel assistant
Eddy Travels, an AI-powered travel assistant bot which can understand text and voice messages, has closed a pre-seed round of around $500,000 led by Techstars Toronto, Practica Capital and Open Circle Capital VC funds from Lithuania, with angel investors from the U.S., Canada, U.K. Launched in November 2018, Eddy Travels  claims to have more than 100,000 users worldwide. Travelers can send voice and text messages to the Eddy Travels bot and get personalized suggestions for the best flights. Because of this ease of use, it now gets 40,000 flight searches per month — tiny compared to the major travels portals, but not bad for a bot that is available on Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, Rakuten Viber, Line and Slack chat apps.

Spotlight

End-to-end travel management solutions used to be considered in a linear progression. Times have changed. A comprehensive, connected solution now requires a network of technologies and a more creative approach. With no turn-key product available, travel managers need to consider their program priorities and demonstrate the value of connecting the dots.

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INDUSTRY OUTLOOK

New report from WTTC and Trip.com Group reveals latest consumer trends and the shift in traveller behaviours

WTTC & Trip.com | November 26, 2021

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and Trip.com Group launched 'Trending in Travel', a new report that shows the latest trends traveller behaviour and future booking patterns in the wake of COVID-19. WTTC, representing the private Travel & Tourism sector, joined forces with leading global travel service provider, Trip.com Group, and its major consumer brands Trip.com, Ctrip and Skyscanner, to analyse consumer trends shaping the recovery of the Travel & Tourism sector.WTTC's latest projections show strong growth in international spending for 2022 and beyond, projecting to overtake domestic spending in 2022, as more destinations ease restrictions and vaccination rates continue to rise. Following a 69.4% decline (2020), global international spending on travel is set to rise by 9.3% in 2021, and significantly by 93.8% in 2022. The inaugural report also reveals how severe and confusing travel restrictions around the world drove a significant rise in domestic tourism, with a surge in domestic hotel bookings of more than 200% on Trip.com's platform this year compared to 2019. Since the start of the pandemic, mobility restrictions have hindered international travel and, although domestic travel will provide a much-needed boost to the sector, WTTC says the return of international travel is critical to rebooting the global economy. The report focuses on booking trends, consumer considerations, and consumer profiles. It also features examples of markets whose resilience has provided a platform for the recovery of the Travel & Tourism sector. The report shows how COVID-19 has changed the way people travel; younger travellers are the first to return to travel; increased demand for longer stays; the importance of fee-free cancellations and the demand for high levels of health and safety checks. To avoid travel restrictions, travellers are seeking secondary destinations, away from traditional holiday spots, as their destination of choice. This preference positively impacts local communities and livelihoods. According to Trip.com's hotel booking data, Abu Dhabi (UAE) Chiang Mai (Thailand), Doha (Qatar), Florence (Italy), and Frankfurt (Germany) were the most popular secondary destinations in their respective countries in 2021. The report goes on to show that, according to Ctrip data, bookings for 'the great outdoors' will predominate in the short and medium term. In China – one of the world's largest travel markets - nature-related attraction bookings have increased by 265% in the first half of this year compared to the same period last year. The pause in travel has also heightened consumers' eagerness to travel more sustainably with more than eight out of 10 (83%) global travellers saying they would make sustainable travel a priority in the future. Reinforcing this long-term trend, since its launch in 2019, the report shows 68 million travellers have opted to book a "Greener Choice" labelled flight on Skyscanner, a comparatively lower-carbon flight choice. According to the report, 70% of travellers in many major countries such as the U.S., Spain, the UK, Canada, and Japan plan to spend more on travel in 2022 than they have in the last five years, including 2019 - one of the best years on record for Travel & Tourism. "It is clear people are really looking forward to travelling again. Consumers are curious, they are looking at new destinations, 'the great outdoors' and travel that benefits the places and people they visit. As travel and tourism represents over 10% of global GDP this is good news for jobs and economies." -Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO The impact in some countries has been devastating for local communities and this report shows that business is returning in earnest. "Travellers around the world have shown their eagerness to travel, whether limited to domestic travel or able to cross borders, we see a huge amount of pent-up demand steadily being released." -Jane Sun, CEO of Trip.com Group To better evolve with the recovery we must understand travellers, and as an industry adapt to emerging trends. Latest WTTC research shows the global recovery of the Travel & Tourism sector is picking up pace with the sector's contribution to global GDP projected to rise by 30.7% in 2021 and 31.7% in 2022. For more information on the Trending in Travel: Emerging Consumer Trends in Travel & Tourism in 2021 and Beyond report, download the full report here. About Trip.com Group Trip.com Group is a leading global travel service provider comprising of Trip.com, Ctrip, Skyscanner, and Qunar. Across its platforms, Trip.com Group helps travellers around the world make informed and cost-effective bookings for travel products and services, and enables partners to connect their offerings with users through the aggregation of comprehensive travel-related content and resources, and an advanced transaction platform consisting of apps, websites and 24/7 customer service centers. Founded in 1999 and listed on NASDAQ in 2003 and HKEX in 2021, Trip.com Group has become one of the best-known travel groups in the world, with the mission "to pursue the perfect trip for a better world".For more information, please visit: group.trip.com About WTTC The World Travel & Tourism Council is the global authority on the economic and social contribution of Travel & Tourism. WTTC promotes sustainable growth for the Travel & Tourism sector, working with governments and international institutions to create jobs, to drive exports and to generate prosperity. Council Members are the Chairs, Presidents and Chief Executives of the world's leading private sector Travel & Tourism businesses.For further information, please visit: WTTC.org

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Six Vacation Options for U.S. Travelers Craving the Great Outdoors

Travel Leaders Network | August 31, 2020

After weeks of being cooped up at home, consumers are seeking to explore the great outdoors farther than their own back yards, say travel advisors at Travel Leaders Network who have seen an uptick in travelers wanting advice where to go and want to do before the end of the year. Road trips, national parks and theme parks top the list.

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CRUISE

iCruise celebrates the return of cruising with the World's Largest Cruise & Travel Sale from October 11-17

iCruise | October 11, 2021

Cruise travel is back, and so is the World's Largest Cruise and Travel Sale taking place from October 11 through 17, 2021. During the weeklong event, iCruise, the leading cruise booking platform for cruise-lovers, is offering unheard-of discounts on cruises, packages, and other travel inventory. Travelers can expect significant discounts of up to 60% off cruises from Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity, Holland American Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and a host of other cruise lines. Now that US ports open again to cruise travel, bookings are on the rise. Travelers and cruisers can be assured that comprehensive health protocols and processes are in place and have made cruising as safe and hassle-free as possible. And many of the major cruise lines have launched brand new ships with new amenities. "We're very pleased to be able to bring back the World's Largest Cruise and Travel Sale," "What better way to celebrate the return of cruise travel than by providing the ultimate travel savings for millions of cruise lovers across the U.S.? We can offer amazing travel deals to travelers, enabling them to enjoy the trip of their lifetimes and make cherished memories with their families." said Uf Tukel, Senior Vice President and CoFounder of iCruise. This year's sale inventory offers a wider network of cruise, resort and hotel suppliers, including significant deals on close-to-home hotels, resorts, car rentals and flights. Cruise operators and participating hotels and resorts are also making fully vaccinated itineraries available to health and safety-conscious travelers. Available discounted itineraries include Caribbean, Mediterranean, Alaska and European river cruises in various categories ranging from budget/family-friendly to ultra-luxury. Additional deals may include free onboard credits, reduced deposits, cabin upgrades, exclusive shore excursions and in-room perks. Because iCruise is also a full-service online travel booking site, travelers will also be able to book their flights, car rentals and pre- and post-cruise hotel stays during the sale – and earn a $100 credit toward a future booking with the iCruise Travel Rewards program. About iCruise iCruise is a Florida-based travel company specializing in cruises resort vacations. Arrivia, Inc. acquired iCruise in December of 2019. Arrivia is a global leader in travel-based loyalty and reward solutions. With the acquisition of iCruise, Arrivia reaffirms its strategic commitment to the cruise industry and expands its capabilities to deliver unmatched cruise value and services to its business partners and consumers worldwide. Our travel partners include all major cruise lines including Carnival, Celebrity, Cunard, Disney, Holland America, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, and Royal Caribbean; and our cruise specialists are trained in all cruise destinations including Alaska, the Bahamas, Bermuda, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Europe and the Panama Canal.

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Spotlight

End-to-end travel management solutions used to be considered in a linear progression. Times have changed. A comprehensive, connected solution now requires a network of technologies and a more creative approach. With no turn-key product available, travel managers need to consider their program priorities and demonstrate the value of connecting the dots.