You know your startup is truly a success when there are startups cropping up just to support it.
That’s what’s happening for Airbnb, a company whose model and execution have proven so successful that they’ve spawned smaller, more niche companies, like PriceMethod, to help them run their rentals more efficiently. But the influx of services that have been created because of Airbnb points to something larger than Airbnb itself: That there’s money to be made in the travel industry, and that the way we travel is changing dramatically.
At the dawn on the internet, it seemed like the ability to book trips online could be bad for the travel industry. After all, an entire line of work — travel agents — were suddenly rendered much less necessary. And while there has been a substantial dip in individuals working as travel professionals in the traditional sense, new technology has opened up a vast world of potential for those who are looking for ways to make traveling easier, more affordable, more accessible, and more personal.
Traveling is an interesting target for startup culture, because it’s both an enjoyable pastime and a necessary requirement for some lines of work. And no one travels more (or is more often inconvenienced by the minor irritations of travel) than the kinds of people who work in the blue-collar sector and, often, are prompted to start their own business.
In addition to Airbnb, who took the idea behind numerous couch-surfing websites and essentially made the idea of staying in someone else’s home more approachable, there are an abundance of other travel startups that are looking to improve and expand upon traditional travel. The services they offer range from “extremely helpful” to “nice to have if you have the extra cash and/or your company will pay for it.”
Fluency, for example, would be a great investment for those who regularly travel internationally. A live translation service that’s about as close to a Babel fish as the human race has ever gotten, Fluency costs a somewhat steep $5 per minute, but can be used right from your smartphone, which can make a potentially serious language barrier into a small inconvenience.
If you hit the road a lot, Dufl has you covered. This service — which offers cleaning, shipping, and storage of business attire — made news in the last few weeks, if only because it’s providing business travelers with a service they’ve craved desperately for decades. Which is kind of the beauty of travel startups; sometimes, they’re so specific in their services that they’re perfect for solving one acute problem.
Itinographer is a little more consumer-targeted, and allows users to plan and map their next big trip. Users can sketch a timeline, plot points, and even get directions, making it an ideal choice for roadtrippers and wanderlusters.
For those who jetset for pleasure, travel startups can make the trip even more enjoyable — not to mention more affordable. For those who do it because they’ve got business to attend to, there are new services every day that make it easier to get around. And while some aspect of travel, like the actual process of flying, have been slow to change, the peripheral elements have proven to be ripe for upgrades.