The Travel Sector Innovators

When it comes to travel sector disruptive companies, Airbnb might be the first company that springs to mind. However, there are many companies that have shown the business leadership to develop new models and strategies that are causing observers to take notice.

Here’s a closer look at the travel sector innovators. While some of these are new, still unfamiliar names, there are other well-known brands whose innovative business strategy merits inclusion on this list.

Airbnb

In less than a decade the home rental company founded in 2008 has grown dramatically. Now available in 65,000 cities in 191 countries, the company has built its success on an easy-to-use functionality that helps travelers find a place to rest their head.

Carnival Corp.

The world’s largest travel leisure company has a fleet of more than 100 vessels, with its Carnival Cruise Line accounting for a quarter of all world cruise market share. In 2017, the company is innovating the use of wearable technology that allows for the collection and sharing of data about guests, not just for financial transactions but also to track how many times they dine in a shipboard restaurant, swim in a pool or have their photo taken.

Ctrip

In 2016, about 250 million users used this Chinese travel site for flights, hotels and tour bookings, making it the second-largest such site worldwide. Its recent purchase of the site Skyscanner gives the company, which did an estimated $50 billion in travel bookings in 2015, one of the world’s largest metasearch travel sites. It has also acquired several U.S. travel agencies as it seeks to position itself as a travel aggregator, booking platform, and tour operator.

Among the top innovative travel companies are those opening up new markets and combining services to ease the complexity of booking arrangements.

GoEuro

European travelers know they need a combination of air, train, and bus transportation to navigate most locales today, each with its own site or app. GoEuro has worked closely with European travel networks, especially railways, to release data that allows for multimodal search and booking functions. The app aggregates this data and plans to expand from its current 12 countries.

Lola

This travel booking app from Kayak founder, Paul English, aims to combine the aggregation and efficiency of travel aggregator sites with the personal touch and customization travel agents can provide. The platform uses bots and agents together to help customers book and troubleshoot travel. The company recently acquired the metasearch site, Room 77, to enhance the app’s business intelligence.

Marriott

With the 2016 acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Marriott became the world’s largest hotel operator, operating 6,000 properties in 120 countries. Marriott’s 87 million members of its rewards program can earn and use loyalty points across 29 of its 30 brands, part of the company’s strategy to focus on customer relationships, direct bookings, and personalized marketing.

Norwegian Air

The Scandinavian low-cost air carrier has taken advantage of its space- and fuel-efficient fleet to expand to 150 destinations, primarily in the Caribbean, the United States, and Europe, often undercutting competitor’s prices by 20 percent to 50 percent. In late 2016, the U.S. transportation department approved expanding its U.S. base with the additions of Orange County, New York, and Providence, Rhode Island, flights.

With travelers looking for more diverse and affordable options, these innovators are taking the hassle out of going from here to there.