Dear Readers

It’s the final newsletter edition of the year and the Christmas break is right around the corner. 

If you’re already trying to come up with some interesting topics for the dinner table, or if you just need to excuse yourself from your family for a moment – we’ve got some gripping reading material for you.

Specs for today: 1,731 words. 5:11 minutes of reading time. Enjoy.

Lennart Dobravsky
Director Research & Intelligence, Lufthansa Innovation Hub


Time to consult the fortune-teller

As the year is coming to an end, it seems like every major research outlet and not-so-relevant tech blog is posting their 2020 forecasts on the major trends that will shape the upcoming year. 

Most of these predictions will be “wrong, random or worse” as Bloomberg’s
Barry Ritholtz famously explained. Such predictions by strategists and analysts would only illustrate how well they know what pleases their employers, and that their powers of prognostication are nonexistent.

Nevertheless, predicting the future is a fun thing to do, so we want to summarize what our favorite travel industry experts have to say.

The 2020 predictions for Travel & Mobility Tech

Leading travel-tech outlet Phocuswire believes that 2020 will be the “Year of Airbnb” with the overall alternative accommodations sector hitting an inflection point (because of Airbnb’s expected IPO and further convergence in the market).

Research house Skift digs into the
10 major business travel trends for next year. But their 2020 predictions are as generic as they can get. Skift's crystal ball highlights:
  • the importance of travel to achieving business objectives and growth (wow – so original)
  • more user-friendly corporate travel tools (the opposite would be terrible)
  • employee preferences being more related to the sharing economy and “bleisure” travel (didn't that already happen in 2016?)
  • and the growing imperative to address sustainability within business travel programs (dropping "sustainability" always works these days).
But Skift also looks at topics in a little more detail, for instance, by profiling the Asian traveler. For 2020, Skift sees a rising demand among Asian travelers for "slow travel", as well as for solo trips and so-called “microcations” (btw, always a good strategy to coin a new term for something that is already well known, in this case, weekend getaways).

The next big startup hits

On the startup-to-watch front it gets more interesting. PhocusWire highlights the digital challengers they expect to have breakthrough success in 2020 – a cool list that you can find right here.

More hidden champions that will succeed in 2020 are presented by Financial-Times backed Sifted. They suggest following a list of the
100 most promising German startups. Among them, two handful of Travel & Mobility Tech players which we have also covered extensively in our newsletter before, namely:
  • Lilium (evtol / air-taxi provider)
  • Comtravo (business travel management platform)
  • GetYourGuide (tours and activities provider)
  • Omio (transportation planning and booking platform)
  • Flixbus (long-haul bus transportation)
  • Volocopter (evtol / air-taxi provider)
  • Sono Motors (sustainable electric-car manufacturer)
  • Mapify (travel experience booking site)
  • Medigo (medical travel provider)

The only predictions you need to trust

Of course, we also came up with our own bold statements for 2020. Why? Because it’s what every high-quality research shop does.

Listen to our Jr. Research & Intelligence Analyst Ly presenting her
top three mobility trends for 2020 in a recent Reuters Webinar. Ly also shares some cool slides and infographics you want to check out, for instance, an overview of the highly fragmented urban transportation space in Berlin.
Now, with all those predictions on the table, let’s follow Barry Ritzholtz advice and mark today’s date down on a calendar so we can come back to it in a year and review how good or bad all these predictions turned out. 
 Sneak Peak 

Spotlight on Asia

If you have had the chance to read our free startup report on the State of Travel & Mobility Tech in 2019, you might remember that startups from Asia, especially China, have been the main drivers in propelling innovation dynamics in our sector in recent years. 

VC funding trends confirm this. Asia emerged as Travel & Mobility Tech’s most funded startup region already in 2015. Ahead of the US, Europe and the rest of the world combined!
In 2019, we expect around 30 billion USD to be invested in Travel & Mobility Tech startups around the world. Again, more than half have been raised by Asian players.

Paradigm shift within Asia

China has long been considered the Asian powerhouse – home to 13 unicorns in Travel & Mobility Tech (as of today). But 2019 has seen an interesting trend emerging: Southeast Asian countries and India have been eating up China’s dominant funding position.
Southeast Asian startups have raised more VC funding in 2019 than their Chinese counterparts, capturing a staggering 43% of total VC investment amounts going into Asia. Meanwhile, China’s stake has been cut in half compared to 2018.

Southeast Asia's mega startups

How can this trend be explained? Several non-Chinese mega-companies have emerged in recent years. The most famous examples are Grab from Singapore, Go-Jek from Indonesia and Ola and OYO from India.

Overall, Asia's Travel & Mobility Tech ecosystem is maturing and innovation dynamics are spreading across the continent, not only focusing on China.

There are a lot more exciting trends happening

As many of you have told us, you’re interested in more research on Travel & Mobility Tech trends in Asia. So, we’re doubling down on it and aim to produce a lot more content on Asia next year.

Sign up for our waiting list and be the first to receive regular Asia updates on Travel & Mobility Tech in 2020.

Avoid disruption by becoming the disruptor

Commercial aviation appears to be at the peak of a boom cycle. The International Air Transport Association has just lowered 2019 industry profit forecasts from $28 to 25.9 billion – the second downward revision this year.

It’s been a tough year for carriers who struggle with profitability as harmful price wars, a looming recession, and a spotlight on climate change threaten to take a toll on their bottom lines. 2020 won’t look much different.

The major question we are asking ourselves: are airlines best preparing themselves for finding new future revenue and profit streams?

We are convinced: digital means can play an important role in doing so. But airlines are slow when it comes to digital transformation while many startups and digital challengers are eagerly capitalizing on this inactivity.

Just think about all these highly-promising aviation startups in the fields of:
  • price prediction (e.g. Hopper)
  • innovative booking platforms (e.g Mapify)
  • flight information (e.g. Flightstats
  • weather forecasting (e.g. climacell)
  • air-traffic management (e.g. unifly)
  • AI-based flight systems (e.g. skyrise)
  • flight operations (e.g. Assaia)
  • or demand forecasting (e.g. Migacore)
It’s high time airlines realize the tremendous opportunities digitalization has to offer.

To bring more clarity to today’s state of digital innovation in the airline industry, we launched the Airline Digital Index (ADiX). It’s a 50-page report to help airlines stay on top of digital innovation. On the basis of 38 quantifiable metrics, we benchmark 26 airlines on their digital readiness for the future. 

If you work at an airline, you should read it. We hope that you do and look forward to your feedback.

 Press Picks 

Our recommended must reads 

E-SCOOTERS ARE NOT SO GREEN – Based on our research piece of carbon emissions per vehicle type, Sifted compared e-scooter providers on their sustainability efforts.
 Read more on Sifted
SUPER APP DOWNGRADE – GoJek is often mentioned as an exemplary role model for a Super App. Yet, the Indonesian unicorn announced it will discontinue several lifestyle services to realign its focus.
 Read more on Tech in Asia
ARE EDIBLE CUPS FUTURE OF AIRLINE FOOD? – Airlines try to reduce their environmental impact in many ways. Air New Zealand started serving coffee and dessert in edible vanilla-flavored biscotti cups that flyers can eat after the main course. Bon appetit.
 Read more on Future Travel Experience
BEIJING BECOMES AUTONOMOUS AND FREE – Beijing approved regulations to allow autonomous cars on public roads. Companies can only do so in a test phase and cannot charge users.
 Read more on Technode
FIRING UP INNOVATION IN AVIATION – IATA is launching an innovation platform with Plug and Play in hope to accelerate innovation in the airline industry. The main goal is to speed up implementation of new technologies.
 Read more on IATA
 Funding Update 

Most recent Venture Capital deals

 = Exit Alert (startup listed at the stock exchange or got acquired)

 = Unicorn Alert (post-deal company valuation at >$1B) 

Domio – the US-based apartment-hotel rental service provider raised $100M ($50 million in equity and $50 million in debt) from GGV Capital, Softbank NY, and further investors. 

Zeus Living – the US-based serviced lodging startup raised $55M from Airbnb, Comcast, and further investors. 

PrecisionHawk – the North Carolina-based drone management and analytics startup raised $32M from Millennium Technology Value Partners, Third Point Ventures, and further investors. 

Arbe – the Israeli radar chipset developer for autonomous vehicles raised $32M from BAIC Capital, Catalyst CEL, and further investors. 

WhyHotel – the Washington D.C.-based short-term rental startup raised more than $20M from Harbert Growth Partners, Camber Creek, and further investors. 

Neuron Mobility – the Singapore-based eponymous e-scooter rental platform raised $18.5M from GSR Ventures, Square Peg, and further investors. 

Isar Aerospace – the Munich-based developer of small launch vehicles into aerospace raised $17M  from Airbus Ventures, Earlybird Venture Capital, and further investors. – the Munich-based car subscription service provider raised $9.7M from HV Holtzbrinck Ventures, Heartcore Capital, and further investors. 

ZoloStays – the Indian co-living startup raised $7M from Trifecta Capital, Mirae Asset, and further investors. 

Travelflan – the Hong Kong-based AI-based travel products, including concierge chatbots, raised $7M from SPK AI Travel Tech Fund, Linear Venture China, and further investors. 

MVL – the Singapore-based mobility ecosystem on the blockchain raised $5M from SV Investment, Central, and Simwon Inc. 

Travelcircus – the Berlin-based online booking platform for premium travel experiences raised $5.6M from Airbridge Equity Partners, Mairdumont Ventures, and further investors. – the San Francisco-based autonomous driving startup focused on mass transit raised $3.5M from Fusion Fund, GDP Ventures, and further investors. 

Tripeur – the Indian corporate travel management startup raised $1M from SenseAI, Better Capital, and further investors. 


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