067 – Filip Maksymilian Bloch and Daniel Flynn of Hotailors – Humanizing Travel with Technology


Organizing business trips 90% faster, 30% cheaper via AI with a human touch…

HotailorsFilip Maksymilian Bloch (CEO) and Daniel Flynn (Business Development Manager) of Hotailors (a next-gen AI-powered travel platform  allowing organization of corporate travel faster, at a lower cost) join John Matson in the MouthMedia Network studio powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

  • What does Hotailors see changing in corporate travel bookings?
  • Hotailors wants to treat your employees right
  • Who’s driving the change in corporate travel?
  • Identifying and relating to the pain of being a traveler
  • Trimming down the “waste time” spent booking a trip
  • SMD vs Enterprise
  • Winning the market and becoming a unicorn
  • Sizing up the market
  • How Filip and Dan met
  • Narrow Domain Intelligence vs General Form Intelligence
  • Applying AI to the travel space
  • Where Filip sees AI succeeding and thriving 
  • How Artificial Intelligence will help travel be better, smarter, cheaper, faster, and more comfortable
  • The competition in the travel AI space
  • Hotailor’s hybrid approach to travel – Merging A.I. efficiency with human touch by employing a network of 3,000 travel agents across the globe
  • Building a product so good, customers won’t want to leave – the key is to be faster and more robust
  • Hotailor’s approach to product research and development
  • How Hotailor built a network of 3,000 travel agents across the globe
  • The early struggles and mistakes made while growing Hotailors
  • Where Filip believes AI will be used and where he wants to see it utilized
  • Filip’s upbringing running hotels with his parents

066 – Andrea Bonaiuto of Eurowings Group and Brussels Airlines – Exploration and Experiences

Andrea Bonaiuto

The growth of Brussels Airlines in the Americas..

Andrea BonaiutoAndrea Bonaiuto, Marketing Manager for The Americas with Eurowings Group, joins John Matson and Bess Chapman  in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

  • The most effective B-to-B and B-to-C channels for Brussels Airlines and Eurowings, depending on gaol and purpose
  • Having a smaller budget, acting in startup style in the Americas
  • Working two brands
  • Brussels has three points of departure in North America, but Eurowings has seven gateways in North America
  • Local targeted events, getting people who haven’t travelled to a destination before, acquiring new customers, strategic partnerships
  • Tomorrowland as the largest music festival in Belgium, seeking to create  a seamless customer journey experience and  related experiences, with live DJs at 30,000 ftAndrea Bonaiuto
  • A fun activation, working with United Airlines
  • Gate parties
  • Keeping customer loyalty when the customer may not be interacting directly with brand, consistency, quality service and experiences, and staying in front of customer
  • The deal with airline food, and how at 30,000 feet your taste buds change, t more he need to add more sodium
  • Business class menus created at a high culinary level
  • The “bleisure” markets
  • How promoting airlines is constantly changing with digital opportunities and new platforms
  • Virtual reality at a lot of events, experiencing what the inside of cabin and business class is like

065 – Dean Locke of Riskified – Enabling Ecommerce and Reducing Fraud in Travel


An eCommerce fraud protection solution that protects travel companies…

RiskifiedDean Locke, Head of Business Development at Riskified (the world’s leading eCommerce fraud-prevention company, trusted by hundreds of global brands – from luxury fashion houses and retail chains, to gift card and ticket marketplaces), joins John Matson and Bess Chapman  in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

  • Travel as a high-ticket item, attractive to fraudsters because they can sell per transaction
  • Smaller margins mean magnification of chargebacks
  • How fraud happens
  • Gift cards are highly targeted
  • When revenue streams must shut down due to fraud


  • A Cakeboss treat
  • Being received in the travel space
  • The shift to digital payment, and preparing for cryptocurrencies
  • Indicators of risky transactions
  • The tech scene in NYC

064 -Jared Alster of Cox & Kings – Forward Thinking in a Legacy Travel Brand

Cox & Kings

How does one of the world’s oldest and largest international tourism companies think about innovation?

Cox & KingsJared Alster, Vice President of Marketing for Cox & Kings (offering customized private and group travel tours to India, Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, Antarctica, Australia, and the Middle East), joins John Matson and Bess Chapman in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

  • Marketing to Americans outbound
  • Domestic vs. international
  • UK and Australia, different mindset than US, people brought up to be travelers.
  • Brand loyalty largely non existent in the US
  • Challenges of multi-day tour packages
  • When operators makes sense in US – i.e. national parks
  • US is largely a road trip approach
    Cox & Kings
  • B to C focus
  • Being like a travel advisor
  • Designing a site for clarity and purpose instead of for design’s sake
  • More opportunity with people in later years than the past
  • Reaching down as well into small luxury groups
  • Government incentives, bodies rely on operators and agents for CTA to book a trip, may impact what regions are strategically focused on at a time
  • Centralized content the last shoe to fall in industry

063 – Marty St. George of JetBlue – Making Connections

Marty St. George

Marty St. GeorgeA visionary executive and experienced senior revenue and strategy leader in the commercial airline business offers insight into what has turned the aviation industry on its head again  and again over the last 30 years…

Marty St. George, EVP of Commercial and Planning for JetBlue Airways, joins John Matson and Bess Chapman in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser. Note that Bess Chapman is interviewing Marty St. George only in the capacity as a podcast host – she also works for JetBlue Technology Ventures, a subsidiary of JetBlue.

In the episode:

  • Marty’s history with JetBlue and the Airline industry
  • JetBlue focus cities and outlook on growth
  • The fascination with bankruptcy and what he’s learned from it
  • Changing with the times and evolving to meet demand; From down turn to profits, low cost to premium
  • How customers will always dictate and pick what business model suites them
  • JetBlue training; everyone from baggage handlers to vice presidents share the experience
  • The future of the Airline industry
  • Maintaining the upstart attitude at a larger scaleMarty St. George
  • An anecdote about Mint, and a “missed” business opportunity
  • The 5 core values of JetBlue and the secret sixth
  • White Leather 90s
  • What JetBlue is doing to future proof for recessions
  • The business vs leisure argument; which is more important
  • A love for building networks and the competitive nature it brings out
  • Data, from the new ways aircraft manufacturers are collecting it inflight to the need for protection
  • The mass amounts of data that are available to due regulations
  • The need for airlines to be more customer focused, and restructuring CRMs
  • Viewing JetBlue as a service business and not an operator
  • Overseeing JetBlue ventures; outside the box solutions from outside heads
  • Wouldn’t it be great to have a solution for Air-Traffic Control and the weather?
  • Identifying a business problem, and finding the means to properly address it
  • The future of JetBlue, 1 year, 5 years, and 10 years down the road, and what Marty thought JetBlue would be doing now, 10 years ago
  • Hush Puppies and PBRs, a guide to outlasting “hipness”
  • Doubling down on successes
  • Improved Airline safety and JetBlue’s brand new 220 aircraft
  • Marty’s love for all things Boston, Necco, The Patriots, The Sox, and the small city charm

062 – Darley Newman – Equitrekking the Globe


Discovering  locations around the world by horseback riding and other adventure activities with local people…

Darley Darley Newman (travel expert, published author and the host, writer and producer of Equitrekking, the Emmy-Award winning PBS TV series, and Travels with Darley on PBS, Create TV and on AOL, MSN Travel, Huffington Post, Amazon and over 2000 partner sites) joins John Matson and Bess Chapman in the MouthMedia Network studio powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

  • Botswana
  • Salt pans and stargazing
  • Discovering experts, keeping track of them for use indifferent locationsDarley
  • Complicated logistics involved
  • Horses and their personalities
  • Getting charged by an elephant
  • Being a safari guide
  • Finding the right guides
  • Less remote areas are still unique on horseback
  • Something connects people because of horses
  • Why horses are therapeutic for both mind and body
  • Starting the show, how Darley manifested it, a background in journalism and behind the scenes
  • How she started with a website and some videosDarley
  • Horses are a vehicle to get to know people and places
  • Creating a second show, “Travels with Darley”, started short form, and the many places to distribute content
  • Curating content for the right platform
  • How a trip-planning business came organically out of the show
  • The aspect of ecotourism aspect
  • What’s next, and the one place Darley would like to travel to next (because of the food…)

061 – Brian Altomare of LugLess – The Case for Suitcase Shipping

A luggage shipping platform leveraging existing logistics networks, and including options such as doorstep pickup and additional coverage, with LugLess…

Brian Altomare,  Director of Business Development for LugLess (a next generaton luggage shipping service), joins John Matson and Bess Chapman in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

  • The first low-cost alternative to luggage and baggage shipping fees, start at the door, not at baggage clam
  • Being friends to airlines
  • With airlines, it is possible to be an asset
  • The opportunity for partnerships
  • How LugLess doesn’t need operational help
  • Being in stealth beta mode for 12 months, with consistent growth
  • New brand, positioning, model
  • Can be an asset to any OTA with a booking engine
  • Making agreements with hotels, airlines and OTAs, or direct to consumer
  • API not a feature, it’s a tool
  • Friction  – the effort to bring and do it ahead of time
  • Can increase service
  • Most are economy travelers with convenience
  • Insurance considerations, relationships with FedEx and UPS and DHL
  • Low-price shipping several bags, dynamic pricing
  • A mass travel economy play
  • LugLess is a platform to do something for less and more convenient
  • Strangest things shipped
  • Why LugLess is currently domestic only
  • Shark Tank and how it changed LugLess, why LugLess gutted everything, rebuilt
  • Low-cost, API, drop-off
  • Brian on making fun of himself in articles
  • Why LugLess didn’t rebrand
  • Turning negative press into a positive
  • Staying healthy when traveling
  • Feeling at home when abroad

060 – Fernando Camara of Skyhour – The Gift of Flight


The next-generation gifting platform offering a smart, easy way to gift air travel…

SkyhourFernando Camara, Co-Founder and CEO of Skyhour (creating the ultimate air travel currency that powers travel across platforms and industries), joins John Matson and Bess Chapman in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

  • Gifting travel, inspiring friends to become better people, inspiring people to go to new places and get new points of view, make an impact in their lives, travel is the best thing you can do
  • How it started, a friend wanted to travel
  • $140B on gift cards and less than 1% is spent on travel
  • The goal of connecting giting and air travel industries
  • Offering flight hours for $60/hour, and the ability to apply to virtually any airline
  • The opportunity to crowdfund a flight
  • Being able to sell tickets without dates or destinationsSkyhour
  • Like creating a new currency
  • Getting around liabilities in some restrictions
  • The money goes to escrow accounts — if you don’t use the hours, the money goes back to person you gifted to
  • Works with Sabre for accessing the inventory of airlines
  • Being a JetBlue Technology Ventures portfolio company
  • Potential partnerships with hotel chains, clothing brands, etc.
  • Camara’s other companies in digital marketing, real estate, then told a friend about the Skyhour idea, and how he needed someone to help build product, and thinking about hiring agency and agency (which loved it so much, sold the company and brought best the guys in to work on it)
  • Why New York is the best place to launch company in the US
  • A $5.5M seed round, working on Series A
  • Raised an initial round starting with cold calls
  • Seasonality, ebb and flow—flight frequency varies but people give all year round
  • Dealing with gift card restrictions
  • Only make money when people book a flight
  • Time between buying and booking, prompting booking and re-gifting actions

059 – Tal Shalit of Betterez – RTM From the Ground Up


Flexible, scalable cloud-based enterprise software solutions for the Reservation and Ticketing Management (RTM) space…

BetterezTal Shalit, Founder & CEO of Betterez (a leading reservations and ticketing management solution specifically designed to address the needs of travel, transportation and admissions companies, and part of the JetBlue Technology Ventures portfolio) joins John Matson (VoyagerHQ) and Bess Chapman (JetBlue Technology Ventures) in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

  • How Shalit used to work with Porter Airlines
  • Learnings for bus industry – originally built a reservation system for small airlines
  • Customers bus brands
  • B to B, or B to B to C
  • End to end reservation system, and how acquiring brandsBetterez
  • Selling the vision as assembling components
  • Omnichannel experience for operators
  • Getting going on any channel you need help with
  • An intelligent way to set it and forget it and adjust over time
  • An overlap for airlines
  • Potential for air to bus to cruise, seamless customer journeyBetterez
  • Considering the volume of bookings and speed through any operator
  • How the bus industry doesn’t have the legacy infrastructure that airline or rail has — so you can leapfrog over that and jump to mobile and latest tech faster, big opportunity
  • The economic downturn has a positive impact on bus travel, although a downturn doesn’t stop people from moving and travelingBetterez
  • The bus of the future, experiences
  • An engine to sell tickets, reconciliation
  • RTM (reservation and ticket management) – many crossover opportunities, building something flexible, even for events, can get into the market even with attractions to medical equipment reservations

058 – Eric Bamberger of IgnitionOne – Consumer Insights in Hospitality


Guiding consumer insights to build audiences, optimize marketing campaigns, collect data, and utilize life moments…

IgnitionOneEric Bamberger, SVP of Hospitality for IgnitionOne (an award-winning Customer Intelligence Platform enabling marketers to understand, value and engage with their customers in real-time), joins “Fashion Is Your Business” podcast hosts Pavan Bahl and Marc Raco on location at the IgnitionOne Summit in New York.

In this episode:

  • Data has always been important to travel and other lifestyle industries
  • Bigger companies operating with legacy systems, making consumer insights difficult
  • Department of hospitality, organizing data, making it effective with clients
  • IgnitionOne has a fundamental understanding of the customer journey
  • First party data – the data a company can personally aggregate from their site, most companies don’t even know what to do with this data much less integrating third party data
  • Connecting with CRM files
  • Starting with cookies, using tags, create a scoring algorithm
  • Processing in real time, which gives a leg up on others
  • Working primarily with enterprise customers, larger hotel chainsIgnitionOne
  • Reading macrotrends, such as oil and gas mining in Texas relating with a hotel occupancy standpoint, adjusting strategies to react on trend data
  • Messaging vs. using data to drive direct bookings
  • Loyalty is less important, more about saving money
  • IgnitionOne’s proprietary scoring algorithm, custom machine learning algorithm for each customer, get high accuracy prediction on propensity to convert, which then leads to bidding decisions
  • Platform, ads, the spend used defending brands—-generic type key words for searches
  • Everything can be an acquisition channel with the right conversion strategy
  • Ad experiences in personalization
  • Considering trends in social platform use related to driving spend and conversion, and searching for all inventory sources
  • The relevance of apps
  • New data impacts each consumer visit, various sources of info for strategy in connecting uniquely to that person
  • The wins in digital marketing that are possible with real effort