Travel Technology

HUAWEI INVESTS $100M IN STARTUPS, MAKES FIRST TRAVEL MOVE IN MIDDLE EAST

As part of its move away from hardware, Huawei is scaling up its cloud services and startup support in Asia Pacific and, while travel and hospitality is not top of mind yet, its move into this vertical seems inevitable with the expansion of its headquarters in Singapore and a recent first move in the Middle East.

Huawei, facing pressure in Western markets and a slowdown in consumer business amid U.S. sanctions, has been steadily moving its focus away from manufacturing to become a tech and software company that believes “deeply in the power of digital technology to provide fresh solutions to the problems the world is facing right now.

"We will keep on innovating to help build a low-carbon, intelligent world,” said Eric Xu, Huawei’s Rotating Chairman, at the release of business results for the first half earlier this month.
In the Middle East, travel marketplace Wego is the first travel player to sign a partnership with Huawei’s Petal Search to integrate the travel app into Huawei smartphones.

“The world of travel and hospitality has entered a new era of m-commerce, as more than 60% of travellers rely entirely on smartphone applications when making their travel plans. Pre-installing the Wego app into smartphones is part of our continuous efforts to enable these travellers to get the best deals and options when shopping for their holiday,” says Mamoun Hmedan, Wego managing director for MENA and India.
From May, all Huawei smartphones EMUI 5 and above bundled with the Wego app will be made available across stores in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Pakistan.

“Over the last few years, we have been noticing a significant rise in the number of Wego users on Huawei devices. Interestingly, it has also been noted that Huawei smartphone users tend to spend more on travel than the average Android user,” says Hmedan.

In the startup space, Huawei announced its plan to invest $100 million in the ecosystem, with the funds going towards its Spark Program in the Asia Pacific region over the next three years.
Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand are the priority markets and at the Huawei Cloud Spark Founders Summit in July, it announced the programme would develop four additional startup hubs – Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.

The overarching aim is to recruit a total of 1,000 startups into the Spark accelerator program and shaping 100 of them into scaleups.
Speaking at the Summit, Huawei senior vice president and board member Catherine Chen said 34 years ago, Huawei was a startup with just $5,000 of registered capital.
“Recently, we have been thinking: How can we leverage our experience and resources to help more startups address their challenges? Doing so would allow them to seize the opportunities posed by digital transformation, achieve business success, and develop more innovative products and solutions for the world.”

Alexis Lee, Spark program manager at Huawei Cloud and AI Asia Pacific, who joined the team in January, told WebInTravel that 40 startups came through in the first cohort and about eight to 10 were identified to enter the “Spark Fire” programme, an accelerator.

Zhang Ping’an, senior vice president of Huawei, CEO of Huawei Cloud BU, and president of Huawei Consumer Cloud Service, announced at the Summit that “we have already helped four of these startups launch new products and completely transform their businesses, while helping eight enter new markets”.

It is currently in the midst of selecting the second cohort – entries closed last week.

Lee, who previously worked in the investor space and was at Grab for two years, said how Huawei differentiated from other accelerators in Singapore is in its business development strength. “We introduce startups to clients, obviously in China, as well as global. China is obviously the most attractive market for scale up.”

It does not take equity, rather it invests in kind, offering cloud infrastructure support in credits as well as a strong mentoring and investor network. “The programme is about building up the startup community, and sharing our resources. We have the tech know-how and the client network to help startups scale.”

Areas of interest include anything to do with AI, ML or 5G and industry verticals include fintech, logistics, smart cities, ad tech and insurance tech.

Huawei says its global HMS ecosystem is the world’s third largest mobile app ecosystem, serving 4.5 million developers in over 170 countries and regions. The goal is to cultivate over 100,000 HMS cloud-native developers in Asia Pacific over three years. Huawei Cloud is second in China and fifth in the global IaaS market.

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Travel Technology, Hospitality Management

AirDNA Acquires Uplisting, Setting New Standards in Short-Term Rental Intelligence and Management

PR Newswire | January 10, 2024

AirDNA, a leading short-term rental (STR) data provider, announced today the acquisition of vacation rental software and channel management system Uplisting. This acquisition marks a pivotal leap in AirDNA's mission to provide a comprehensive, one-stop solution for those investing in and operating short-term rental properties. Demi Horvat, CEO of AirDNA, shares the vision behind the acquisition: "Merging Uplisting's first-class property management tools with our unparalleled market insights will create holistic, tailored solutions for all STR stakeholders, from aspiring hosts to large professional managers. This integration equips users with robust tools for every step on their journey, from research and investment to set-up and ongoing optimization of their properties." Uplisting, an Airbnb Preferred Plus software partner, is a powerhouse for effectively managing and synchronizing STR listings on key platforms like Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com. Its automation of critical tasks like real-time booking updates and guest communication has made it indispensable in optimizing the operations of vacation rental hosts and property managers globally. In 2023 alone, Uplisting processed an estimated $400 million in bookings, empowering users with reliable technology tools that catalyze growth. Vincent Breslin, Founder of Uplisting, commented: "Joining forces with AirDNA opens up a realm of possibilities for the vacation rental market. With our combined wealth of expertise, we are poised to redefine industry standards, driving innovation and delivering enhanced value to all our clients." In another decisive move to strengthen its commitment to STR hosts, AirDNA is introducing a new Dynamic Pricing feature that automatically syncs AirDNA's Smart Rates™ to Airbnb. This much-requested functionality empowers users to maximize booking revenues, drawing on extensive data from millions of listings on Airbnb and Vrbo to provide effective pricing recommendations. "Dynamic Pricing makes it easier for busy STR hosts to set their rates by automatically analyzing market and competitor trends. This ensures the best prices are delivered in real-time to their Airbnb listings, eliminating guesswork and manual adjustments. With our focus on building easy-to-use tools for hosts and Uplisting's comprehensive suite for bookings, operations, guest communication, and beyond, we're bringing professional tools within reach of everyone," said Horvat. Following AirDNA's acquisition of Arrivalist in July 2023, these strategic milestones showcase AirDNA's dynamic expansion under the umbrella of predictis, a family of software-enabled data businesses, and a portfolio company of Alpine Investors. "With this second acquisition in just six months, AirDNA is poised for continued growth and innovation, and with more developments in the pipeline, it is well positioned to expand its leadership position at the forefront of the short-term rental industry," remarked Jean-Marc Levy, CEO of predictis. FOCUS Capital Partners Ireland served as the financial advisor to Uplisting.

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Travel Technology, Destination and Tourism

Exodus Adventure Travels Announces New Trips in Partnership with Royal Canadian Geographic Society

PR Newswire | January 23, 2024

Exodus Adventure Travels, the international award-winning leader in adventure travel, today announced its new 2024 RCGS Quests trips, a series of expert-led tours developed in partnership with the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. These limited edition, small group trips are what travel legends are made of – adventures that are designed to offer travelers unparalleled opportunities to explore some of the planet's most awe-inspiring destinations and led by noted hosts in their respective fields. This year's line-up features such noted hosts as World Elephant Day co-founder, Patricia Sims; bestselling author, Robin Esrock; Indigenous education advocate, Charlene Bearhead, and others. "We are honored to partner with The Royal Canadian Geographical Society on these highly anticipated adventures," said Sam Seward, President at Exodus Adventure Travels. "This is our third year operating our RCGS Quests program, with continued demand to explore further and experience more, pushing these trips to new heights and featuring another stellar line-up of hosts to add even more depth to each itinerary." Exodus' 2024 RCGS Quests Series features the following six adventures: RCGS: Highlights of the Amalfi Coast with Scott Forsyth Discover the land of la dolce vita for a wondrous week on the Amalfi Coast led by an expert local guide and hosted by professional photographer and fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, Scott Forsyth. Explore one of Europe's most dramatic stretches of coastline and be spellbound by this land's natural beauty and cultural treasures. The Host: Scott Forsyth is an award-winning photographer who specializes in Canadian landscapes. Devoted to exploring Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific and Arctic Ocean coastlines, Scott is a Fellow of both the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and the Explorer's Club and is Canadian Geographic's Photographer-In-Residence. Eight-day itinerary priced from $2,240 USD. Departing April 6, 2024 RCGS: Classic Kenya 4WD Safari with Patricia Sims No country, perhaps, is more synonymous with a classic African safari than Kenya. Step into scenes from 'Out of Africa' as you explore Kenya's best safari sites led by an expert local safari guide and hosted by award-winning Canadian filmmaker, Royal Canadian Geographical Society fellow and World Elephant Day co-founder, Patricia Sims. The Host: Patricia Sims is the co-founder of the annual World Elephant Day (Aug. 12), a global awareness campaign that brings attention to the critical threats facing elephants. From swimming with wild dolphins and whales in oceans around the world to getting up close and personal with monkeys in the jungles of Borneo and elephants of Thailand, Patricia is also an award-winning filmmaker who always has a passionate eye on conservation. Patricia is a Fellow International of The Explorers Club and a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. Seven-day itinerary priced from US$4,649 Departing August 10, 2024 RCGS: A Week in Jordan with Sarah Legault Explore the wondrous historical and archaeological highlights of Jordan on this week-long adventure. From the incredible history of the Wadi Rum Desert to strolling through ancient Roman cities and floating in the Dead Sea, this Jordanian adventure contains all the highlights of this fascinating country. It is led by an expert local guide and hosted by Vice President of Philanthropy for the RCGS, Sarah Legault. The Host: Sarah Legault has been the head of advancement at the Royal Canadian Geographical Society since 2018 and has worked at charitable organizations throughout her career. Her vast understanding of the Society, Canadian Geographic and all associated programs is extraordinary. As the current Vice President of Philanthropy and Fellow of the RCGS, Sarah's mission-aligned values of environment, people, culture, and geographical literacy support engaging and forward-thinking initiatives which she always is keen to share and discuss. Seven-day itinerary priced from US$2,550 Departing October 19, 2024 RCGS: Rome, Assisi & Magical Umbria – Premium Adventure with Robin Esrock Explore Rome and Assisi's historic landmarks and classical ruins. Walk through Italy's unspoiled countryside staying in a picturesque four-star resort in the hills of Umbria, led by an expert local guide and hosted by bestselling author, TV host, public speaker and Royal Canadian Geographical Society Fellow Robin Esrock. The Host: Dubbed "King of the Bucket List" by Travel + Leisure, Robin Esrock's success as a global adventurer, travel writer, bestselling author and international TV personality started with a one-year solo round-the-world backpacking adventure to 24 countries. During this year, Robin uploaded weekly reports, photography, videos, reviews, and interviews with every person he met. In doing so, he ushered in a new era of multi-platform, switched-on wired-in travel journalism, leading to adventures beyond his wildest dreams. Robin's stories have been published in noted publications worldwide, including National Geographic Traveler, The Guardian, Chicago Tribune, Toronto Star, Reader's Digest, and more. Eight-day itinerary priced from US$4,050 Departing October 19, 2024 RCGS: Egypt Nile Cruise with Charlene Bearhead Follow in the footsteps of the ancient pharaohs and ride the sands of time back thousands of years on this classic Egypt Nile cruise led by an expert local guide and hosted by Indigenous education advocate, author, Vice President of Learning and Reconciliation at Canadian Geographic, and a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, Charlene Bearhead. With ancient tombs and mysteries around every bend, unrivaled legacy and mind-blowing history await. The Host: Charlene Bearhead is an Indigenous education advocate and author with over 30 years of regional, national and international experience. Previously Charlene served as education days coordinator for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, education coordinator for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, education advisor for the Canadian Geographic Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada, a member of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights Indigenous Education working group, and the first education lead for both the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba and the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre at UBC. She is also the co-author of the children's book series Siha Tooskin Knows. Eight-day itinerary priced from US$2,380 Departing November 16, 2024 RCGS: Highlights of Vietnam with Lynn Moorman Discover the complex culture and history of Vietnam on this intoxicating exploration of Vietnamese life highlighted by superb landscapes and amazing cuisine. Led by an expert local guide and hosted by Lynn Moorman, a lifelong geographer with a love for exploring remote landscapes and environments. The Host: Lynn Moorman is a prominent geographer and a professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Mount Royal University, in Calgary, Canada. Lynn's teaching and research interests lie at the intersection of geography, learning sciences and applied visualization technologies, including virtual and augmented reality. Her work has taken her to the highlands of northern Vietnam, to map agricultural productivity, to the frozen Arctic Ocean where she works with Inuit in Canadian Arctic communities to use near-real time satellite imagery to keep ice travel safe. Lynn is a Fellow, former Board member and current Chair of the Research Committee of the RCGS. 10-day itinerary priced from US$2,170 Departing November 17, 2024

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Travel Technology, Destination and Tourism, Commercial Travel

CheckMyBus and redBus partner in international markets to simplify Bus Travel experience

Business Wire | January 29, 2024

CheckMyBus, the world’s leading metasearch engine for intercity bus, and redBus, the world’s largest online bus ticketing platform, have announced their partnership for Southeast Asia and the LATAM markets. redBus offers online bus booking services in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as the LATAM markets of Peru and Colombia. With this partnership, redBus will provide comprehensive inventory and ease of online bus booking options for both domestic and international travellers through the CheckMyBus platform. Travellers can discover best bus trips on CheckMyBus, the world’s most comprehensive long-distance bus content platform with millions of connections across more than 90 countries. After the rebound of the travel industry, there has been a surge in both domestic and international travel. However, as a result of these changes, flights and other modes of private transportation have become more expensive, leaving budget-conscious travellers in search of cost-effective alternatives. Buses have consistently remained an affordable and budget-friendly option. Through this collaboration, CheckMyBus and redBus are committed to providing the best and most affordable bus booking experience for their users. In addition to domestic users, it is now much easier for international travellers to find the right buses to exciting destinations in South America and Southeast Asia having access to the largest bus inventory in these regions. Marc Hofmann, CEO of CheckMyBus, said: “Our mission is to make bus travel simple. By providing access to the extensive redBus inventory to our global audience, we are taking a significant step toward promoting bus travel in Southeast Asia and LATAM, making it more accessible. We are excited to contribute to the growth of the travel industry by assisting both domestic and international travellers in the region in collaboration with a strong partner like redBus.” Krishnan Ramaswami, Chief Business Officer - International Businesses, redBus, said: “Through this one partnership, we can offer extensive bus ticketing options to the international traveller. Global travellers can book a ticket & discover a range of services in Southeast Asian and Latin American markets as conveniently as locals. We expect this will improve our discoverability in newer markets and provide better accessibility to a larger customer base. We look forward to working with CheckMyBus to improve the ease & convenience of bus bookings.”

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