In a truly global business such as travel, there is no pressing need to be in an “industry town” that specializes in a specific field. Great ideas can germinate anywhere, and since the travel industry has nodes everywhere, there is an easier path to seed the global narrative.
Nonetheless, the large city hubs have an advantage on the talent front. Smart, ambitious people tend to congregate around regions that can most quickly provide a leg up in the global business environment. London has long been one of those cities, not only positioned as a bridge between North America and Europe but also a hub of activity across a variety of sectors.
Travel has long been a part of the fabric of the city. From its heritage as a merchant center, the capital city has maintained a connection with finance, travel, and trade. As part of the next wave of industry, the Trampery’s Traveltech Lab sits at the intersection of travel and technology. By creating a space for companies of all sizes to connect, the Lab builds community around new, emerging, and existing companies. By developing this community, the objective is to maintain and grow more business in the region.
To learn more, we chatted with Traveltech Lab’s Community Manager Katelyn, who answered our five questions about the Lab, as well as London’s role in the global travel industry.
The concept of the space is to nurture startups in travel, as well as to create a community within the industry at the local level. What’s the elevator pitch for the Travel Tech Lab?
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 within the industry. We provide a stunning shared workspace overlooking the River Thames and Tower Bridge, a bespoke business and professional support programme, a curated event series and brokered relationships with over 400 world leading travel and tourism businesses.
The Lab is a partnership between London & Partners, the Mayor’s official promotional company for London; and The Trampery, specialists in innovative spaces to drive creativity and entrepreneurship.
What is it about London that makes it the ideal location for the Lab?
London is the most global city in the world, home to a wealth of nationalities and thought leaders, creating a melting pot of opportunity for innovators. As home to more than a third of all European Fortune 500 firms, London lures the top talent and technology investment, reinforcing the city’s global reach and influence in the business world. This is evident with the UK leading Europe in digital technology investments amounting to £28bn invested since 2011.
Even with the vote to leave the European Union, investment into London and UK-based technology companies remains strong, with London tech firms attracting over £800m in venture capital funding in the final half of 2016.
These figures combined with the positioning of London as a top global tourism destination make London the obvious home for the Traveltech Lab.
Since its inception in 2015, The Lab has cemented London’s reputation as a centre of excellence for travel technology; bridging the gap between technology startups and established corporations. Via their membership of the Traveltech Lab, our startups gain unrivalled access to corporates and industry leaders through tailored introductions and networking opportunities.
What sorts of companies are currently using, or have come through your space? Share some of the stats around those companies, such as the total amount raised, current revenues, employee counts, etc.
Since we launched two years ago, the Lab has supported over 60 brilliant startups with our members raising over £19m 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 Flyto winning 2017’s Travel Tech Europe award for disruption only eight months after its inception and Switch.cm being acquired by Flyma for $600,000 USD. 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, are a true testament to the disruptive powers and innovative ideas coming out of the Traveltech Lab.
There are constantly companies coming into your space, both casually and as part of your formal programs. In the current company mix, what are some of the trends that you see emerging?
We constantly see trends emerge in the Traveltech Lab which set the agenda for the wider industry, whether that be championing the curation of unique and bespoke tours or the use of artificial intelligence and human-machine interfaces to augment human capabilities. Our members are at the forefront of disruption and are continually embedding new technology into the travel, tourism, and hospitality space with a fresh and innovative approach.
TravelTech Lab established the hashtag #TalkTravelTech. How does the community engagement piece online fit into the real-world/in-person mission?
As the recognised epicentre for those working at the intersection of travel and technology, engaging with the wider community and London’s innovative businesses online has allowed us to cultivate an ecosystem of over 700 startups. #TalkTravelTech invites all those interested in the travel and technology sectors to connect with that wider network.
By building connections with corporates, VCs, industry giants, and the startup community, we are engineering serendipity and increasing the potential for fortuitous collaborations to happen. Our active online engagement also allows us to keep our wider networks up to date on current and future trends poised to change the way we explore the world and has further cemented the Traveltech Lab as the space for innovation, collaboration, and creativity to thrive.