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Travel partnerships presentation

How to find & partner with other companies to help your (travel) startup succeed. Figure out which companies are best to work with, strategize who to target, tactics for getting the deal done, and case studies of a few partnerships we've developed at Hitlist.

This was presented at the San Francisco Travel Startups Meetup on 21 January 2016.

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Travel partnerships presentation

  1. 1. Getting the most out of partnerships @hitlist_app Presentation by Gillian Morris (@gillianim) at the Travel Startups Meetup, San Francisco 21 January 2016
  2. 2. @hitlist_app How to avoid this
  3. 3. @hitlist_app And have this
  4. 4. Hitlist: list trips you want to take, we alert you when there are good deals to get there Current partners: @hitlist_app Context
  5. 5. @hitlist_app Hitlist is used in 185 countries* >500,000 booking leads sent to partners *Svalbard, Swaziland, and the Falkland Islands notable holdouts
  6. 6. Why partner? @hitlist_app Moneyand distribution
  7. 7. Money • #1 reason startups fail = run out of cash. Profitable partnerships prolong your life expectancy. • it’s usually straightforward to do affiliate links. If you’re producing travel content, you should make money off of it • if you’re building an app, many big companies will offer widgets and/or white label options that are dead simple to integrate @hitlist_app
  8. 8. Distribution • it’s extremely difficult to compete against the big guys in travel • ‘going viral’ is not a strategy • piggybacking is: • example: Routehappy getting distribution through a partnership with Expedia @hitlist_app
  9. 9. A few secondary reasons to partner: @hitlist_app
  10. 10. Development don’t reinvent the wheel - use a white label flight/hotel search engine @hitlist_app
  11. 11. Legitimacy Who’s the pretty lady with William Shatner? No one knows, but she’ll always be able to say she was on a red carpet with The Negotiator / Captain Kirk @hitlist_app
  12. 12. Relationships The best startups don’t sell. The worst startups don’t sell. If there’s a chance you’d ever want to sell your startup, it helps to have existing, warm relationships with potential acquirers. @hitlist_app
  13. 13. Types of partnerships • White label • API agreements • marketing campaigns/giveaways • content syndication @hitlist_app
  14. 14. Most of the big travel companies (except for Google) will allow you to distribute their inventory on your site either through widget, white label, or API partnerships @hitlist_app White Label / API Partnerships Widget White label API integration Development time minimal minimal flexible Customization little to none limited maximum Priceline Expedia Google booking.com Skyscanner CheapOAir ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓
  15. 15. Flights CPA Cost per acquisition = payout when a lead sent converts CPM cost per mille = payout for a exposure to 1k customers (usually email subscribers) $.01-$.05 $4-$30 $1.5-$4 $.50-$5 5-10% of gross (if you’re an affiliate sending to an OTA) 15-30% of gross (if you’re an agent booking directly) $1-$30 Hotels Survey of possible affiliate revenue from sending traffic to OTAs / airlines / hotels CPC Cost per click = warm lead sent to partner @hitlist_app White Label / API Partnerships
  16. 16. Marketing campaigns/giveaways Team up with other companies and co-promote to your respective mailing lists/social following, and share the list of emails generated. This works best if you’re offering some kind of giveaway to incentivize signups. In our experience: very low conversion Hitlist + Rank & Style + Aviators & A Camera giveaway (spring 2015): 125,200 emails sent + 922,800 social impressions = 62 new app registrations
  17. 17. Development Services that you can use to shortcut your own development process • in-app messaging: Layer • referral system/personalized links: Branch.io • flight search: skyscanner • hotel search: • booking.com • Expedia Affiliate Network • …pretty much any travel company @hitlist_app
  18. 18. Who to work with @hitlist_app Put your own mask on first before assisting others (It is generally more productive and easier to partner with a big company than with another startup)
  19. 19. Travel conversion Mobius Strip INSPIRATION PLANNING BOOKING SHARING @hitlist_app Want to help me make prettier slides? Email g@hitlistapp.com Wherever you fall on this journey, look to partner with the people the step before (for distribution - they can send you traffic) or the step after (for monetization - they pay you for your traffic)
  20. 20. Who to work with, con’t • Speed • Big companies move SLOWLY - don’t expect to be able to get much done if they’re going through any kind of corporate restructure (see: US Airways & American merger, HomeAway being absorbed into Expedia) • Make sure you know exactly what you want to do together so there is minimal need for back and forth negotiation • Budget • time is money - make sure they’re serious before pouring tons of resources / time into developing a ‘free’ partnership • Distribution • Stay on brand: work with companies who have the demographics you want @hitlist_app
  21. 21. Execution • Show up in person if you really want to get the deal done • Have multiple contacts at the same company & be cross- referencing between them • Persistence: follow up, politely, at least 3 times before leaving the lead for dead. Sometimes people are just busy. • Conference networking • soft (wet) diplomacy: this industry drinks. A lot. Prepare your liver or get used to pretending that your club soda is a gin & tonic. • follow ups: send a follow up email to every person you met you can ever see doing business with. It doesn’t have to be long, but if you do you’ll be able to remember how you met and restart a friendly conversation when you need it. @hitlist_app
  22. 22. Leverage @hitlist_app Sometimes big tech companies can do incredibly cool technical things, but they’re just not cool. Example: this robotic arm that keeps your beer steady even when you’re breaking it down on the dance floor.
  23. 23. Leverage @hitlist_app As a startup, you may not have all the tech or the money… but you can do whatever it takes to get something done, and bring that extra bit of sparkle the big companies feel like they’re missing.
  24. 24. Leverage @hitlist_app T Rex trying to chart exponential growth
  25. 25. Resources tnooz.com skift.com Hitchhiker’s Guide to Travel Startups (gillian.im/startups) g@hitlistapp.com @gillianim @hitlist_app