The travel startup journey: from innovation to success


Entrepreneurs are inspired to take on the challenge of turning today’s new ideas into tomorrow’s “next big thing,” or marketplace disruptor. That innovative spirit is prevalent nowhere more than in the travel industry. At PhoCusWright 2015, Amadeus leaders, Alix Arguellës and Katherine Grass, hosted a workshop exploring the travel startup journey and highlighting key challenges, takeaways and initiatives to help early-stage travel companies position themselves for success.

I have an idea. Now what?

Thought leaders are driven to innovate for many reasons: passion, curiosity, creativity, problem-solving and more. Regardless of the inspiration or desired outcome, the road from initial startup to profitable travel company can be an exciting, yet long and complex journey.

Travel companies at all stages have dynamic, ever-changing needs, and they all struggle to some degree with similar challenges. Several rules of thumb apply to startups, which, if followed, can help them keep their eye on the prize and attract investors:

  • Prove your idea quickly and cheaply
  • Form a winning team
  • Surround yourself with trusted mentors and advisors
  • Don’t be afraid to pivot and change
  • Focus, and then scale
  • Ensure cash flow and funding

Fundraising requires a plan, specific knowledge and skills, all essential to startup growth. Knowing where you want your money to come from can be just as challenging as attracting investors. Are you looking to align with an incubator / accelerator, or attract a financial venture capitalist or strategic investor?

Make sure you know the difference and understand upfront what you are willing to risk or give away, depending on the partnerships you form. From an investor’s perspective, regardless of the investment type, the No. 1 quality they look for is your company’s winning team. Attributes like good chemistry, reputation and commitment are the real standout qualities investors seek when funding startups.

I have funding. Now what?

Securing enough – and consistent – capital is undoubtedly a challenge for any travel startup. Many other factors also matter to get your business moving in the right direction. Building a strong foundation is key. Make sure you have a well-rounded internal team that compliments your business, and avoid the “halo effect” by choosing employees and mentors not exactly like you. Be sure to look for diversity and different points of view.

The right technology is another key success factor. Startups face particular challenges in determining the kinds of technology support they’ll need, and deciding which platforms to build upon. Do you want to build “it” yourself? How will you access the right content? Are you looking for a white label, or cookie-cutter solution?

Travel startups often underestimate the travel industry; it can be complex, confounding and complicated – from nomenclature and acronyms, to accreditation, technology and relationships. The key is to build a strong alignment with a trusted partner who can evolve with you, help answer key questions, and support your changes throughout the journey. This will make life easier and uphold your long-term vision.

Amadeus for Startups. Your one-stop shop

As a startup, you can’t do it all. This is why partnering is so critical. Amadeus for Startups is a true differentiator in the marketplace. This four-pronged program allows startups to focus on innovating while Amadeus makes the other parts as seamless as possible. Our team is dedicated to guiding you through every step of the startup journey. We are the same team that supports the industry’s biggest players, and are bringing this expertise to industry entrepreneurs as well. Key program components include:

  • Online travel 101
  • Expert technology assistance
  • Specialized services
  • Strategic alliances

The program’s mission is to provide leading technology, resources, expertise and consultative support to help online travel startups establish or advance their business, navigate the complexities of the travel industry, and position themselves for success.

Download the workshop presentation here. To learn more about how you can work with the Amadeus for Startups team, visit


As a businessperson or entrepreneur, what early advice did you receive that paid big dividends down the road?



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