009 – Avin Samtani of AquaVault – A Combination for Sun and Safety

Portable Outdoor Travel Safe with AquaVault…

Avin Samtani, Co-Founder of AquaVault (a Portable Outdoor Travel Safe that was invented so you can lock up your valuables and go for a worry free swim) – (background), joins Pavan Bahl , Samantha Shankman and John Matson at the MouthMedia Network studio at Voyager HQ.

A robbery leads to a business, perfecting the design, and Shark Tank

Samtani recalls how the theft of the co-founders’ own belongings at a beach realized the need for a safe to store valuables at a beach or pool, and that day the AquaVault was born. Portal safes that lock on any lounge chair or umbrella, or any tubular support, how people get hands on the safe, prototypes with 3d printers, how it took 7 prototypes to be satisfied with the design, and getting patents. How the co-founders decided to do move forward with a strategy, starting with an inventor trade show, surf expo, then Shark Tank the experience of being one of the only companies to be selected from of tens of thousands of applicants, and what the Shark Tank process was like.

Marketing AquaVault, sourcing in China, and building a travel brand

Being a rare physical product as travel startup and an unusual concept, why it is an advantage that hotels can’t really easily test a physical product with hotel branding, the process of sourcing through China, the complexities of shipping worldwide, and how growing up in Hong Kong makes Samtani relatable to manufacturing partners. Marketing on mostly social media, the success of good press, $5k/month spend on social media ads, videos converting well, Facebook as the most successful and carrying over to Instagram. Amazon as the biggest platform. Ponding the phones five hours a day for sales and press and being relentless, key decisionmakers are pool managers and hotel GMs, how AquaVault frees up time for employees, and creates revenue as many hotels charge guests. AquaVault’s current presence in, any water parks and hotels, the new more portable version with slash resistant nylon, can put it in carry-on, and selling well. AquaVault’s 6-12 month initial sales cycle, and how Samtani would change the sales approach looking back. The next step of a waterproof phone case, building a travel brand, and why they’re not worried about people stealing chairs to get a safe.

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008 – Matt Lerner of MetroButler – The Butler Does It

Airbnb property management and concierge service…

Matt Lerner, Founder/CEO of MetroButler, (a front desk, concierge and cleaning service rolled into one for shared homes like Airbnb that eliminates all the logistical burdens of short-term renting by providing services customized to your home) – (bio), joins Pavan Bahl , Samantha Shankman and John Matson at the MouthMedia Network studio at Voyager HQ.

Business model, expansion, and competition

Lerner discusses how hosts come to MetroButler, which takes over a property and does everything necessary to make the rental successful, whatever is related, and MetroButler gets 25% of the fee of bookings, the host has to do nothing. Typical host demographics, advertising in NYC, expanding in other cities and some pilot cities, how it takes a lot of time to work out quirks of other properties, and lead gen is largely inbound. A fragmented market with a lot of competitors, defending against companies that perform a lot of services that might want to pivot into this space, how customers interface with the MetroBulter team directly, and why Airbnb won’t likely get into this business.

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007 – Samantha Shankman – Maybe Too Many Tourists

Overtourism in Barcelona and globally…

Samantha Shankman, travel reporter, producer currently working on a documentary about overtourism in Barcelona (bio), joins Pavan Bahl and John Matson at the MouthMedia Network studio at Voyager HQ.

Skift and Time, Inc., post-Olympic Barcelona, and responsive infrastructure

Shankman talks about covering the business of travel, working on travel stories from the early days of Skift, joining Time Inc., working in the capacity of booking travel, now owning a bed and breakfast outside Barcelona, and how all of the experiences have allowed her to see travel from several angles, and on both business and consumer sides of travel. How a cold email got her a job as an early employee of Skift, how she decided to go into video production, and turned onto overtourism. Barcelona as an unknown city before the 1992 Olympics, its improved infrastructure, how Barcelona succeeded in building a brand as an artistic city with urban and beach experiences, great for dining, nightlife and art. The impact of urban planning being done so quickly and in response to a rise in tourism, how there is so much tourism in specific focused areas, and the issue of pickpocketing. And Shankman’s experience with the changing dynamics of moving from a startup to a big company to a freelancer.

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006 – John Matson of Voyager HQ – Where Travel Begins

Travel innovation community building with Voyager HQ…

John Matson, ‎Digital Director for Voyager HQ (a club for travel innovators which connects travel startup founders, investors, and corporations), and Co-Director of Startup Grind New York – (bio), joins Pavan Bahl and Samantha Shankman at the MouthMedia Studio at Voyager HQ.

A pilot, helping companies grow, and a dent in innovation

Matson discusses his background as a growth strategist being involved with startups, and current role helping companies grow as the Digital Director, with a focus on marketing. Voyager is a “pilot” to demonstrate necessity and impact of a structured community and space for travel innovation, powered largely by the family office of Fareportal’s Sam Jain [Episode 001]. Finding that travel startups need immense capital or a unique set of dynamic partnerships, how B-to-C really is B-to-B-to-C, providing this resource to these kind of companies, and why it turned into more of a community approach and an open ecosystem. How Voyager is not just Sam Jain’s accelerator, but Sam Jain making a dent in innovation. Growing more nearly 375 digital members and 40 members in the space since August, 2016. How the space was so hard to navigate. And an American Airlines integration for startups as a first major initiative, from a roundtable.

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005 – Varelie Croes of ATECH – Moving Goods, People and Data

Aruba’s travel innovation and entrepreneurialism with ATECH…

Varelie Croes (bio), Co-Founder and Board of Directors of ATECH Foundation (a community of entrepreneurs and investors and the Caribbean’s top conference for startups in Aruba featuring international speakers, and investors) and Founder and CEO The Liv Group, joins Pavan Bahl, Peter Crysdale and Tamara Wood from the studio at VoyagerHQ.

Creating an ecosystem, building on what’s there, and what Aruba already knows

Croes discusses the great conference of ATECH, Aruba as a great melting pot of cultures and history as a Dutch Colony, how rapidly growing tourism was developed by choice in Aruba, and creating a technological ecosystem and entrepreneurship to start or spend time in Aruba. How ATECH focuses on travel to build on what’s already there and how Aruba knows hospitality and travel and because it involves a broad sense of the movement of goods, people and data.

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004 – Joel Montaniel of SevenRooms – When Away Feels Like Home Only Better

CRM-driven reservation management…

Joel Montaniel (bio), CEO/Co-Founder of SevenRooms (helping hospitality operators make better service easier with a customizable, CRM-integrated reservation book that intimately ties reservations to existing guest profiles and helps hospitality businesses to build new ones) joins Pavan Bahl, Peter Crysdale and Tamara Wood.

Empowering hospitality, a 360-view of each guest, and keeping consistency

Montaniel talks about what brought him from a career in finance to a switch into the tech world, making guests feel at home at hotels, nightclubs, restaurants, and more, about an essential data aggregator that’s helping hospitality groups make informed decisions, and how info on guests was built far more manually in the past. The difference in the sense of experience when different personnel are present. Moving from transaction-based business to understanding the guests at a multi-tier level. The power of integration with POS systems, the ability to access and aggregate data cross multiple brands for a hotel group, giving a 360-degree view of each guest across multiple properties. Making sure a customer is comfortable with info sharing, creating a channel to provide more info, offering up ways for guests to feel more comfortable and what can be done that is amazing for a guest. How proper hospitality feels like a luxury service and great hospitality is free with employees standing there anyway; how to empower them to know more about guests to provide better experience. Hospitality doesn’t just translate to luxury operations. And when SevenRooms started with the nightclub industry, then moved to restaurants, and how nightlife data was previously managed via pieces of paper.

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003 – Bess Chapman of jetBlue Airways – At Home and On Demand in the Sky

In-flight entertainment and connectivity in aviation…

Bess Chapman, Manager of In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity for jetBlue Airways (bio), joins special hosts Marc Raco, Rob Sanchez and Julie Macalaster (Head of Strategy & Growth at Def Method) on-location at the Millennial 20/20 Summit in New York City.

A place for the latest and greatest, next-gen features, and bringing humanity back to travel

Chapman discusses falling in love with the aviation industry and how the job at jetBlue fell into her lap working at a media agency, what she prefers in on her own in-flight entertainment, what features and controls are necessary, on-demand capability, legroom, looking at the entire realm of what’s possible, wanting to replicate the at-home experience in the sky, enabling dual screening, free hi-speed internet, and making the aircraft a place to see latest and greatest and try new things. How jetBlue is trying to introduce passengers to their new favorite things, easing customer experiences, and defining interiors and next-gen experience for new aircraft. The number one value, making the airlines family-friendly, making features specific to in-flight, creating a next-gen mapping experience, and putting a “jetBlue spin” on everything. Bringing humanity back to traveling, and larger trends in tech and media instead of the same old formulas.

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002 – Christina Grdovic of Travel + Leisure and Food & Wine Magazines – Making Time for Travel Is Better for Humanity

Covering travel, leisure, food and wine with Time, Inc…

Christina Grdovic (bio), Managing Director (overseeing advertising sales and marketing) of Food & Wine and Travel + Leisure Magazines at Time, Inc., join Peter Crysdale (Co-Founder of ReCorp), Pavan Bahl (CEO Open Source Business), and Tamara Wood for the second episode of Travel Is Your Business podcast.

Starting with Time, Inc., new media, and content

Grdovic discusses how she got to know and became involved with Food and Wine and Travel and Leisure, and the scope of the brands, publications and the work. New media, using data and the way it is packaged and sold, analyzing focus on content coverage, the relation to what advertisers need, how research shows people spend more money overall when traveling, and playing in luxury travel.

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001 – Sam Jain of Fareportal and CheapOair – Travel Is His Business

Online Travel Agencies with Fareportal and CheapOair…

Sam Jain (bio), CEO/Founder of Fareportal, CheapOair and OneTravel.com, Board Chairman of Voyager HQ, joins Peter Crysdale (Co-Founder of ReCorp), Pavan Bahl (CEO of Open Source Business), Rob Sanchez (COO of Open Source Business), and Marc Raco (CPO of Open Source Business) for the first episode of Travel Is Your Business podcast.

Taking initiative to fill a gap, customer service, and introducing technology

In one of his few in-depth interviews ever, Jain covers why he started CheapOair to fill a gap in current digital online travel space, and because of the lack large contact center presence. How his background in business-to-business and customer service led to creating a digital online travel agency with a customer service focus, now the only OTA today with a toll free number on every web page, and more than 2,000 travel agents full time.

Turning a 4k debt on AmEx card into a huge business by trying to solve a dysfunction. his “coming to America” story inspired by a family jewelry business, an idea sparked by working a year for no money at a small travel agency, and buying tickets from wholesalers, the two worlds of published fares and consolidated wholesale net traded flights. The impact of Jain introducing technology with simple databases, and pivoting into an ecommerce business. Getting into the business with a model as a flight focused OTA, and providing a great user experience with a three step booking path and strong customer service, going up against four established players, and the complexity of the processes and transactions, such as 80,000 schedule changes per month.

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