Even after spending 16-years working on the latest solutions for its own suppliers and partners, CarTrawler still supports new, pioneering ideas. Remaining innovative and developing industry changing software is imperative to the Irish firm’s continuing success, growth and development, which is why they sponsored this year’s Lions’ Den at the 12th Annual Ancillary Merchandising Conference at the Hilton-Edinburgh, Grosvenor, in beautiful Scotland. The Lions’ Den is a showcase of travel innovations and services where companies pitch their product to ancillary and merchandising experts. Presenters make a five minute pitch before engaging in a questions and answers session with the Lions about their company and its potential within the airline industry. The theme for the 12th Ancillary Merchandising Conference was “Getting ahead in the Digital Age”; with the goal of ensuring airlines and travel companies remain at the forefront of industry by increasing ancillary offerings to their passengers, which can deliver higher revenues and an improved customer experience.
This year’s fearsome Lions were Sinead Finn, former Ryanair Director and current Director of Affinity, Gulcan Berberogullari, the Ancillary Marketing Leader from Pegasus Airlines, Sarah Panthou, who looks after Retail and Ancillary Revenues for the Air France-KLM Group and Marta Rosselli, who works with Digital Product Intelligence at Vueling. The Lions’ Den is an important part of the Ancillary Merchandising Conference because it allows start-ups with new ideas the opportunity to get in front of airlines and merchandising experts, which is imperative in order to keep them aware of the latest ideas and innovations.
The Lions’ Den showcased exciting new products and services to a packed meeting room at this year’s conference. The companies pitching to the Lions included LikeWhere, a firm that uses granular location data to serve personalised recommendations to travellers, Essentialist, a private club for travellers that offers a tailored tourism experience. Also presenting to the Lions’ were Raleigh & Drake, a millennial-focused discovery platform powered by a knowledge of their users’ community and GetYourGuide, a business that collects and categorises activities throughout the world, allowing travellers to spend less time researching and more time enjoying their holiday.
The first company to take to the stage was GetYourGuide, a business that aggregates tours, events and general things-to-do in cities and towns around the world. Shane Mayer, the Director of Business Development and Partnerships at GetYourGuide explained to the Lions how his firm is the largest online platform for booking tours, attractions and activities. Shane spoke passionately about how his company works with its partners to find out what the traveller really wants by categorising activities throughout the world, allowing the customer more time to have fun on their trip while alleviating the hassle of researching experiences.
Shane Mayer, the Director of Business Development and Partnerships at GetYourGuide
Following Shane was Joan Roca, the CEO and Founder of Essentialist. Essentialist is a company that devises specially customised travel experiences for affluent tourists by utilising its extensive network of journalists and local tastemakers to correlate insider information on the top hotels, food and wine, culture, shopping, and must-see sites to create bespoke itineraries. Joan presented passionately about how his company targets high-end travellers who have an annual holiday budget of over $30k, while also detailing how his customer’s decisions were not based on choice but recommendations. Following questions from the Lions, Joan confirmed that his company was not focused on low cost airlines, as it concentrated its attention firmly on Business Class passengers, and that this niche market could wield an average booking value of $1,700.
Joan Roca, the CEO and Founder of Essentialist
Entering the Lions’ Den after Joan was Gilad Goren, the President and Co-Founder of Raleigh & Drake, or according to Gilad, “RAD if you’re a Californian”. Raleigh & Drake focuses on the millennial marketplace by delivering a dedicated discovery platform that is aggregated through data about and knowledge of a user’s community and trusted influencers. According to Raleigh & Drake, their platform delivers local content and incremental revenue streams to brands committed to social impact by aggregating thousands of recommendations from individuals and brands customers trust most. Gilad spoke at length about how RAD creates a premium personalisation service for their users before his company’s moment to shine came as Lion Sinead Finn asked about RAD’s data acquisition in relation to the thousands of recommendations from individuals and brands they process. Gilad assured the curious Lion that all engagement is tracked, recorded, analysed and shared with their partners. A revelation that sparking a curious murmur of interest throughout the packed conference room.
Gilad Goren, the President and Co-Founder of Raleigh & Drake
Last, but certainly not least, was Matthew Walker, the Chief Storyteller at Dublin based start-up LikeWhere. LikeWhere is a company that offers personalised recommendations to travellers exploring new cities for the first time by making use of granular location data. At the core of LikeWhere is the ability to show the traveller where to go in a new city based on the individual’s likes in cities they have already explored. According to LikeWhere, the business arm of their company ‘Likewhere for Business’, enables airlines, IFE content service providers, travel media outlets and hospitality brands to engage with their customers across the full cycle of their digital journey while generating new ancillary revenue. Matthew opened his pitch with a quirky tale about buying flowers for the elderly. A story that demonstrated the old idiom ‘what’s good for the goose isn’t necessarily good for the gander’. Unfortunately, Matthew’s long opening story left him under some time pressure to complete his entertaining pitch, which may have affected his scoring with the Lions.
Matthew Walker, the Chief Storyteller at LikeWhere
After the final pitch the Lions’ retired to reach their verdict while CarTrawler’s glamorous former RTE and TV3 veteran, Valerie Ringrose Fitzsimons, took to the stage to talk about the great work CarTrawler are doing in the ever moving world of travel technology and ancillary revenue. Upon their return, the Lions announced that Gilad Goren’s Raleigh & Drake had scooped the best product award at the CarTrawler sponsored event, with the Lions’ noting that RAD’s knockout punch was their data sharing capabilities. Following this, Shane Mayer of GetYourGuide was beckoned on stage to collect the best presentation award for his flawless and professional, albeit brief, performance.
CarTrawler’s Valerie Ringrose Fitzsimons and Raleigh & Drake’s Gilad Goren
It would appear that the key takeout from this year’s Lions’ Den is that large scale data accumulation is king and companies that are willing to share their learnings and insights with partners will find themselves leagues ahead of their competitors. Another hot topic in the Den was personalised holiday solutions, which are tailored to travellers’ lives, likes, habits and routines. Being able to cater for a traveller on an individual basis has become possible through the intelligent aggregation and utilisation of big data solutions.
The next Lions’ Den, which is sponsored by CarTrawler, will take place at the Mega Event Asia-Pacific (Ancillary & Loyalty Conference) in Bangkok, Thailand on the 29th of August 2018, with event organisers expecting travel start-ups to pitch to a wide range of relevant attendees, tuning in both online and in person.
Click here to sign up for the CarTrawler newsletter.