052 – Ned Horneffer of Romeo Power Technology – Powering the Future of Travel

Romeo Power

Lithium battery-powered travel…

Romeo PowerNed Horneffer, Director of Business Development for Romeo Power Technology (creators of the world’s most energy-dense battery packs) joins John Matson and Bess Chapman in the MouthMedia Network studio powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

  • Romeo Power Technology is counting on that electrical is the future of transportation
  • Electrification will take over all forms of transportation, batteries tech will increase
  • The challenge of being able to retrofit vehicle with batteries
  • Startups can move quickly, they are really sold on lithium and electrificationRomeo Power
  • Larger players, the secret is to find out how serious they are
  • Developing and getting a proof of concept for a fleet of vehicles
  • Regional transportation need so great, could affect regulation
  • Will technology affect consumer behavior, or will consumer need push technology development and adoption
  • Will people know how to handle it?
  • Flying cars
  • Influencing regulation as a brand
  • UL certification important
  • How battery power for aircraft can open up airports with noise restrictions
  • Marine sector is off and running
  • Norwegian strength
  • Battery-run cruise ships?
  • The danger of batteries and firesRomeo Power
  • Level of confidence in safety, tech is at a point that if you build batteries the right way they will never explode, single cell fault tolerance and pack construction avoid chain reactions
  • Punctures are a primary danger
  • Transportation is a means to an end
  • Appreciating the world is big when things go wrong with travel

051 – Travel Tech Infrastructure – Thinking Forward

Travel Disruption Summit

A fireside chat on innovation between representatives of two of the most forward thinking travel groups…

Travel Disruption Summit

Photo credit: Eva Cruz, Crouching Tiger LLC

Rashesh Jethi (SVP Engineering for Americas & Head of Innovation for Airlines for the world’s largest GDS, Amadeus) and Bess Chapman (Operating Principal for JetBlue Technology Ventures) discuss travel tech infrastructure, innovation, and possibilities at the Travel Disruption Summit presented by Voyager HQ, and sponsored by Amadeus and Fareportal.

In this episode:

  • What AI means for the travel industry
  • How everything has changed with hyper-cheap hyper-computing
  • Used to depend on massive investments for AI, and now it simply requires a lot of data and smart people
  • How machine learning sit on top of that, what it means when airlines and other travel business starts really knowing customers
  • Machine learning is one discipline of AI, and it means you feed computer data, makes sense of data, make more personalized recommendations, much potential in marketing
  • How it is a challenge that many players are at different maturity in technology stacks
  • Many are moving to open APIs to encourage growth and innovation

    Travel Disruption Summit

    Photo credit: Eva Cruz, Crouching Tiger LLC

  • Regulation issues an inhibitor to innovation, but most regulation is to keep us safe
  • Be respectful of regulation that’s there
  • GDPR an example
  • What it means that not all travel providers can keep up with changes at the same pace
  • Antiquated innovation all around
  • The biggest white space for disruption in airports
  • Why airports will be the malls of the future
  • Airports can be an oasis of commerce and relaxation
  • Prescreening and biometrics, making screening fast track, frictionless
  • Identifying you as a traveler, then providing you a contextual experience and a reference to what is available around you
  • Amadeus believes in tapping into the creative energy of anyone, supporting innovation
  • Overhyped technology (personal opinion) is blockchain
  • Bags as a huge white space, RFID, and more
  • How NDC change Amadeus’ current setup, and the next evolution in standard with a lot of interest from customers
  • AR and VR in the travel space, ideal use-cases, and why they could just become another screen we get used to
  • Using VR to book trips and for in-flight entertainment, shopping, training – and what are the challenges?
  • A lot of opportunity for companies to help other companies make money
  • What is looked for by Amadeus venture fund

050 – Justa Lujwangana of Curious on Tanzania – Accessing Africa

All inclusive, authentic and immersive experiences in Tanzania…

Justa Lujwangana, founder of Curious on Tanzania (unforgettable, immersive, transformative experiences in Tanzania curated and led by locals), joins John Matson and Bess Chapman in the MouthMedia  Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

  • Justa Lujwangana on being curious means search, dig deeper, not just a typical visit
  • Putting together guest logistics
  • Also an operator
  • Impetus of company, out of her own curiosities about her homeland
  • Africa offering lot of experiential marketing, like archeology, and big venue space bring South African experience alive
  • Having a team across the world while working from NYC
  • Giving back to local economy, building something sustainable
  • Experiences such as ooking classes, dancing, meeting one of more than 120 tribes
  • Zanzabar beach
  • Marketing strategies
  • Giraffe as a must-see animal

Curious on Tanzania is run by proud Tanzanians working together who are committed to leading and creating comprehensive, thematic travel experiences that make a positive, sustained difference to destinations and local people throughout Tanzania. They call this experiential travel – travel that goes deeper into the lives of those whom we all visit, and creates lasting relationships and true cultural exchange.

049 – Andrea Martinez of Boom Hospitality – Next Level Hotels

Boom Hospitality

Creative tactics and best business practices for hotels…

Boom HospitalityAndrea Martinez, President of Boom Hospitality (a hospitality consultancy firm helping boutique hotels, independent hotels, and F&B operations, open, grow, or convert their businesses with the use of creative tactics and best business practices) joins John Matson and Bess Chapman in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

  • The crucial need to properly understand your market
  • Boom Hospitality working mostly with boutique and out-of-the-box hotels
  • Tech in modern hospitality is so important, but not every guest is the same, simplicity is important
  • Mirrors with digital concierge, interactive maps, fun, equipped with things guests want and will use
  • The need to only adapt tech in a way you can adapt
  • The boutique traveler is looking for something very specific
  • Martinez is living a dream job, started in non profitsBoom Hospitality
  • How we make development/construction more sustainable, less destructive on the environment and actually help the environment
  • Building a hotel within a mountain in a way that doesn’t hurt things around it
  • How it is important that social media and marketing about a project must be part of the conversation from the beginning and a priority, design, construction management guest experience, PR
  • Special cookies Martinez is obsessed with for a snack
  • An approach to driving to a hotel or a destination?Boom Hospitality
  • Methods of discovery – seeing online, Instagram, website, how common each method is
  • People wanting to go somewhere they saw and then researched
  • The need to be careful about defining local experiences
  • Bringing true authentic local experiences by partnering with and creating alliances with local destinations
  • Martinez’s experience in Latin America, Florida, bigger cities in US, Toronto
  • Politics plays a big role in how one develops because permits are different

048 – Kerri Zeil of Amadeus North America – That White Glove Startup Approach


Partnering with the No. 1 travel technology partner, Amadeus, dedicated to helping travel companies launch, grow and succeed…

AmadeusKerri Zeil, Head of Amadeus for Startups, Online Travel Group, Amadeus North America, Inc. (the leading provider of IT solutions to the global tourism and travel industry — Amadeus for Startups provides technology, expertise and guidance to support travel startups throughout their journey) joins John Matson in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

  • Zeil reveals the substantial work Amadeus does in travel and understanding what startups need and what brands like Amadeus can do to help
  • Globalizing the startup program, how Zeil is in charge of the Americas
  • How Amadeus has a lot to offer, expertise, tech, info from customers already supported, how Amadeus can grow its own business through startups
  • No specific business model is larger than the next
  • Travel tech startups offer opportunities to scale and provide value
  • Amadeus originally looked at the program narrow lens, and it has has gown enormously
  • The program has grown year after year, created a partner community to add value, each program looked at uniquely, providing value across the board
    Expertise in various areas of travel and working to harness that, and how internal partners want to help
  • Help startups launch at scale
  • High quality startups coming into the program and being able to be choosier to come in and can rise to the top, while helping virtually anyone coming in the door
  • How Amadeus doesn’t invest or take equity
  • When Amadeus cannot help some companies with APIs or tech solutions, but that company might fall into the area of venture partnerships and then introduce to that internal partnerAmadeus
  • Looking for companies even outside of core values, but can find ways to plug in that can enhance the business, that can bring value within tech stacks, exploring blockchain a bit, in-destination activity,
  • Axa as a great startup story, another is Freebird (a very unique idea) which developed into a partner with Amadeus
  • Is there a secret sauce possible at Amadeus for working with startups (think white glove approach)
  • Amadeus is located in Spain, how it interacts with the Americas
  • Pitching in front of The Dragons Den
  • Getting calls from around the world from people who want to help
  • How Amadeus created a blueprint for people for this program to work globally, leaders of company started to recognize this is happening everywhere,
  • Bankok and Singapore are big spots
  • A cultural shift
  • Commonality across startups, enthusiasm, the travel industry as a whole isn’t an industry to get into, infrastructure moves at snails pace, complicated and regulated, can be frustrating and difficult to understand, in a discovery phase for info and data to be even do diligence on Amadeus’ part, give startups some hope
  • The industry has attention on, and is engaging, startups to help dig out from technological past, recognizing the need for advancement
  • Why the travel industry is likely in for the long haul in commitment and funding, albeit cautious and focused approach, at a crossroads of the old travel industries and innovators
  • The need to not disrupt cash cow at companies while getting out of same things that keep happening – that’s the right path
  • Continuing to shape the future of travel

047 – Corey Angelo of Wanderfuel – Traveling Well


Health food and wellness content for travelers…

WanderfuelCorey Angelo, Founder/CEO of Wanderfuel (carefully curated, seasonally rotating boxes of organic products alongside lifestyle content that educates and supports well-being while traveling) joins John Matson and Bess Chapman in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

  • How wellness touches us at all times, taking care of yourself
  • Educating people with a great content experience, and how it makes travel better
  • Bringing together healthy snack and amenity kits in environmentally friendly packaging
  • Wanderfuel‘s core ethos includes nourish, relax, detoxWanderfuel
  • Meditation, podcasts, intent to become like a Netflix-like safe list of things tailored for type and length of travel
  • The biggest wellness snafu on the road and being disconnected from regular wellness routines, committing to rituals and practices each day
  • Maintaining rituals on the road
  • Something about being on the road where you let go of being healthiest — how do you get people to carry it with you?
  • Coaching yourself, how you’ll feel after, and combining it with interesting and fun content experiences
  • The travel industry is investing in its consumer
  • Working closely to scale offering including with American Airlines, wellness zones in major airports, livening up atmospheres, and working with strong partners
  • Angelo’s “Zen place”, and pole vaulting
  • Inspiration and a moment of exhale when training for a marathon
  • The moment it all clicked
  • Staying curious, exploring more

046 – Felix Wunderlich and Greginald Spencer of mypostcard.com – Sharing and Changing the World One Postcard at a Time


Personalized photo postcards, greeting cards and cards created online and sent on the go from anywhere…

mypostcard.comFelix Wunderlich (Head of Business Development) and Greginald Spencer (Office Manager) of mypostcard.com (photos sent as postcards worldwide) join John Matson, Pavan Bahl, and Bess Chapman in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

  • When does one need to send a personalized postcard
  • What should reaction be/feeling – happiness
  • Physical interaction instead of digital, something tangible makes a real impactmypostcard.com
  • The text looks like real handwriting
  • Process to use — download app, upload photo, the ability to have an envelope because of sensitive photos
  • Participation in a German accelerator
  • The app saves a lot of time
  • Friction on the marketing side, looking at customer lifetime value
  • Most customer acquisition via Google Adwords
  • Growth efforts via universities, building awareness
  • The ability to partner with major social platforms like Instagram
  • Whether content changed that customers are sharing, and is it relating to larger trends in the travel industry?
  • The shift from digital to physical, sentimental valuemypostcard.com
  • Creative marketing, and a song, changing the world with a postcard
  • The path to become a travel lifestyle brand
  • Spreading the feeling of that moment, and how to share that feeling and create buzz
  • How a postcard is something you share in person with visitors
  • Partnerships and collabrorations including prisons
  • Winning on the Apollo stage
  • A prior career in hospitality managementmypostcard.com
  • How Greginald got to NYC
  • Every season is Ramen season
  • And someday— Europe as a home?

045 – Liliana Petrova of JetBlue – Conducting the Customer Experience Orchestra

Liliana Petrova

Designing customer experience in travel…

Liliana PetrovaLiliana Petrova, Director of Customer experience at JetBlue Airways, Visionary, Strategist, Customer Experience Professional and Blogger, joins John Matson, Bess Chapman, and Pavan Bahl in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

  • Liliana Petrova on designing for Experience is like a multi-phase cake
  • What is movement,
  • Technology design, how to achieve movement as fast and seamless as possible
  • How people will feel about the brand and interactions
  • Why the experience designer needs to be a vision thinker and can’t design in increments
  • Facial recognition, and why with some brands it is like having a same experience like prison or the subway, and determining that will never happen like that with JetBlue as an experience
  • Delight comes from the elements and when it works to one’s standards
  • Designing experience is like being like a conductor of an orchestraLiliana Petrova
  • Innovation is not building new things, but finding connections that didn’t exists before between existing things
  • Getting a sophisticated program up in just four months
  • Will airports be the player of the future they are today?
  • The quest to eliminate waiting time with bags and taking away levels of friction
  • How airports could transform from being simply a processing center, and therefore offer a chance to give you joy
  • Other brands doing it right, and those doing it wrong — Milan train system can do better
  • Every customer has their own version of an emotional reaction — but engineering things like efficiency can create emotional experiences, creating value
  • Being driven by making the world a different place, making life easier
  • Liking things that stretch when it is implausible
  • Why the Hyperloop is exciting
  • How Petrova moved from financial analyst to design
  • The baseline of customer experience is process and strategy, making connections and seeing all channels of marketing
  • And hard work
  • How enterprise brands can’t preserve everything with scale
  • Innovation is not the end goal, it’s a way to be relevant to the customer
  • The alignment in the interest of the future costumer
  • Credit cards and miles/points/rewards
  • Petrova on being Bulgarian and a view at her work and the American ecosystem, and having perspective
  • Why Abraham Lincoln was amazing
  • An intuitive move and coming to America, having two “homes”, being a citizen of the world
  • Doingcxright.com

044 – Gilad Goren of Raleigh&Drake – Enabling the Generation of Experiences

Gilad Goren

The world’s first influencer-driven discovery platform using social currency for travel…

Gilad GorenGilad Goren, social entrepreneur and Founder of Raleigh&Drake, joins John Matson, Bess Chapman, and guest host Marc Raco in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

  • Gilad Goren on the future of content in the travel context, mix of personalization, instead of celebrity culture of past more local authentic voices and people who align with the travel in the way they view travel, ubiquitous and quality content throughout the journeyGilad Goren
  • Millennials rarely plan trips until on their way, dreaming and planning
  • Raleigh&Drake is not setting new paradigm, instead reading the lines on how people plan their trips, helping with the tool for brands in travel space to adapt to how travelers view luxury
  • Many people spend 45 hours on 45 websites when planning travel, but will ask friends on social media what they do and think
  • Less than 25% trust recommendation sites, and
  • Building a quilt of different sources of insight, aggregating trusted content so brands can deploy into their websites, as a discovery ecosystemGilad Goren
  • White label bookable content as a service solution, aggregate great content, make bookable, license to brand who want to increase engagement and increase customer experience
  • Power of Instagram was in the visuals from real individuals sharing experiences with others, timeless power of visuals as we are visual beings
  • Always looked for advice from people close to us, this is another way of doing it
  • Brand can really own an experience, host and facilitate experience, benefit on ancillary revenue, and benefit from enhancing guest experience, all built for personalization which grows as the traveler uses it moreGilad Goren
  • Necessity of CRMs, how Raleigh&Drake can feed data to a brand’s CRM
  • An opportune times to leapfrog
  • A route into travel for brands to connect with consumers
  • Interacting with local travel resources can lower the carbon footprint, have less cultural negative impact, increase spend into local economies
  • Curating and trusting explorersGilad Goren
  • Through their lens, a multiplicity of curated authentic unique voices
    Earliest memories of Saturday morning cartoons like GI Joe as a first glimpse into the American hero and American spirit, as an early brand experience forming who Goren is
  • How Raleigh&Drake started B to C, and leveraged partnerships and turned B to B
  • Goren spending 45 days in Bolivia in an animal refuge in taking care of middle aged pumas

043 – Greg Buzulencia of ViaHero – Experiencing Travel with the Local Hero


Connecting travelers with local trip planners for custom itineraries to Iceland, Cuba, and Japan…

ViaHeroGreg Buzulencia, Co-Founder/CEO of ViaHero (a marketplace for travelers to hire locals to plan their personalized trip), joins John Matson, Bess Chapman of JetBlue Technology Ventures, and Pavan Bahl (President, MouthMedia Network) in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

  • Bess Chapman [Episode 003] of JetBlue Technology Ventures (a venture capital spinoff of JetBlue Airways, keeping a pulse on tech innovation and driving deal flow through New York) joins the podcast as a hostViaHero
  • ViaHero works with locals telling people what they should be doing on a trip
  • How, being a marketplace, ratings and reviews keeps people in check, whereas travel agents are beholden to commissions
  • Cuba, Japan, and Colombia as countries in which Via Hero has presence
  • Average user wants local knowledge, people who have tours or Travel Agent plan, they are there for service but want to be independent
  • Algorithm matches with people who have same Interest and are in that area
  • SEO and user acquisition in various geographies
  • Changing needs and expectations of travelers, but there is still a feeling of needing info to help figure it all outViaHero
  • Hanging out with hosts, immersing in local culture, but it is a digital relationship with a “hero”
  • Offline maps with local recommendations and locations
  • Consistent trends in data being collected, database of their recommendations to more easily crate the guide books
  • The economics of the relationships with the  local “heroes”
  • A cross-country trip as a child that made an impression on travel, and the passion of never paying for water