026 – Jeff Thomashow and Steven Aitkenhead of HOST – Hosting the Last Mile


A new, better way to move with a zero-emission hop-on, short-trip transportation alternative using pedicabs…

HOSTJeff Thomashow and Steven Aitkenhead, Co-founders of HOST Transportation (re-imagining the traditional pedicab for the 21st century by providing urban dwellers a quick, affordable way to move locally through cities), join John Matson and Pavan Bahl in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

Good experiences mean adoption, why pedicabs, and being a brand extension

pedicabsThomashow and Aitkenhead discuss pedicabs as a last mile option, how their sweet spot and launchpad is the East Village in NYC, getting over the resistance of pedicabs, how people tend to immediately adopt if they try a service and have a good experience, providing music, phone chargers, and tapping into Millennial mindset in the pedicabs, all customized by personal, human connection. Why pedicabs, partnering with brands to provide a neighborhood level transportation service, how “Instagrammable” are moments, how effective the pedicabs are when wrapped beautifully with brand extension, moving them into the digital sphere, and — hand stuffed donuts for a snack.

Bumble, branded cabs, creating a level of joy and engagement

pedicabsWorking with brands, how most native New Yorkers have little-to-no perception of pedicabs in NYC, putting an institution and a brand and trust behind this industry, making pedicabs something to trust and to enjoy the experience, and rebranding, the company name Hop On Short Trips (HOST), looking for brands who are forward thinking, trying new things, and are generationally focused. A partnership with Bumble, closing the gap between the digital and physical, the importance of Millennials, and being able to trust brands. How branded pedicabs have stood out, whether experiential marketing agencies are a fit vs. going direct to brands, and believing in partnerships. How the business started in April, now having 6 pedicabs operating under brand, being in the test phase, creating a level of joy, and aligning with brands who want to become a part of the fabric of New York and a part of the weekend.

The future of mobility, a surplus of pedicabs, and a look at per-minute charges

The testing phase proved initial theories, tapping into the acting community for great experience as well as fitness trainers, and looking at potential partnerships with companies like Chariot. We have to wait for a lot of innovation because of traffic. The future of mobility is how far you are going. The opportunity for a shuttle between offices, an assumption of the app, issues with regulations in New York, and regulations provide for the per-minute charge. And, a surplus of pedicabs, bring stranded without a ride and being save by a UPS truck, the impact of transportation on when growing up, and how some things just have to be done. Plus, moving around the city doesn’t have to suck.

025 – Richard Harris of Intent Media – Risk, Trust, Data

Analyzing the intent of online consumer journeys in travel…

Richard Harris, CEO of Intent Media (operating the world’s most powerful platform for advertising on commerce sites, with ads running across a network of leading travel websites), discusses how “digital exhaust” becomes valuable real time user intent data, sharing competitive information and rates develops loyalty, the distinction between search and commerce, and building a successful company culture. Recorded with hosts John Matson, Pavan Bahl, and guest host Nick Vivion of tnooz in the MouthMedia Network Studios powered by Sennheiser.

Travelocity two ways, repurposing digital exhaust, and Dubonnet wine

Harris reveals how he and his partners started as consultants, sold their company to Travelocity, then took over Travelocity, exited, then started Intent Media. He discusses the essence of the company as taking tools of machine learning to predict what users are trying to get accomplished and then solving that in real time to give them the user experience they want. Using predictive analytics regarding that someone won’t buy, and helping them get where they want to go, how keys are to be useful to customer, provide utility that links to even a competitor, and to monetize that. Found data of customer journey, realizing their intent, then the digital “exhaust” becomes real time user intent data, value added for user. How Harris and his partners realized “money will fall on their heads”. How showing competitive information and rates increases loyalty to the site, and positioning as a great place to start a search, how taking a competitive risk brings trust, and the way cooperative efforts allow competitors to send opportunities to each other in the travel vertical. And Dubonnet Rouge Aperitif Wine makes an appearance during snack time.

Opening walled gardens of data, search vs. commerce, and multi-vertical potential

A look at how search technology can be different and the way merchandising is done is different, how the consumer is trained to use 20 different sites, and if sorting is different, it gives impression different inventory. How using data that comes from one particular source is only used for benefit of that source, walled gardens will break open, and the benefits of a neutral arbiter to use network wide data—and, now, its is more walled. Blurred lines in digital commerce, how Amazon fits in, the why the distinction between search and commerce is arbitrary. Consumers just want to have help making a decision and getting it done. Sharing of anonymous data, dealing with various data sets, and how now much of the incoming data is digital so it is pushed in real time and more accurate. Plus, customer profiles in travel are deep, with multi vertical potential.

Superior workplace culture, hotels and direct booking, and the year-long honeymoon

The remarkable working culture of Intent Media, how it has been one of the best places to work for 6 years straight, a focus on dogs, and whether the culture is mapped out or organic? Hotels and direct booking, why Intent got into that world and bought Voyat. Off the Beaten Path personal questions cover inspiring and beautiful New Guinea, a year-long honeymoon, giving children a multicultural, well-rounded perspective including India, a book that impacted Harris’ executive path, and staying out of the emotional ups and downs of running a business.

Hear more podcasts from MouthMedia Network at www.mouthmedianetwork.com

024 – Arnie Weissmann of Travel Weekly – Sixty Years of Story and Influence

The most influential B2B news resources for the travel industry…

Arnie Weissmann, Editor in Chief of Travel Weekly, discusses the 60-year+ publication, embracing technology, and proper PR behavior with hosts Pavan Bahl and John Matson along with guest host Nick Vivion of tnooz, in the MouthMedia Network Studios powered by Sennheiser. (Weissmann’s profile)

Sixty years of experience, AOL and ATT, and print vs. digital

Weissmann discusses how Travel news offers the opportunity to be learning from experienced deep domain experts, the launch of more than 60 years ago to becoming one of the most influential resources in the travel industry, how Travel News has been online since 1997 and continues to be strong, big involvement with events, and how Weissmann likes to be a “player and coach”, in management and into interviews and writing. How the movement of technology allowed Travel Weekly to grow and get a foot in the door with AOL, providing core destination content for AOL for years. ATT had them build a business travel website, Twitter chats result in more than 100 million impressions, why they haven’t been more committed to video, curation differences between print and digital, and the difference in storytelling real estate.

Brand strength, the recent rise of travel agents, and a PR pet peeve

How B to B media is a more sustainable business model, the significance of brand strength, loyalty, the impact of time poverty, how different publications look at specific angles of the industry, a focus on distribution that is mostly travel agents, a recent rise of travel agents, what’s old is new, and how those who embraced tech have survived. Respect for readers, uncovering stories, a disturbing trend, a PR pet peeve, and the horrible the phone call of “did you get my email?”. How the subject line must grab you, and relationship matters in getting a reply from an editor or publisher.

College dropout turns writer, rambling vs. traveling, and camping in a Doge Dart

Personal questions cover Weissmann’s first significant story he wrote, being undirected, college coursing in Japanese tea ceremony, bowling, oil painting, organic gardening and more resulting in dropping out of college, how saving money and travelling led to blossoming as a writer when not structured or pressured, an extensive camping trip in a Dodge Dart, rambling vs. traveling, camping in ten countries in Africa, working as a nanny in Cyprus, picking fruit in Israel, making choices to experience more instead of rushing, and where in the world would he have liked to grow up. Gross National Happiness, when a guide makes all the difference, how the travel industry is fragile, and seeking a good story that is bigger than a company and progresses a narrative.

023 – Travel Pitch Night at Voyager HQ

Five innovative travel startup companies pitch industry leaders and investors at Voyager HQ …

The companies and judges gathered at the Voyager HQ Clubhouse in New York City for Travel Pitch Night, sponsored by Amadeus. Panelists and audience judged each startup on presentation, business model’s viability, product/market fit, and fundability. This episode powered by Sennheiser.

The companies that pitched:

Samantha Ruiz (CEO/Co-Founder)  – Well Traveled

Rebecca Lima (CEO/Co-Founder) – Ment

Matthew Lerner (CEO/Founder)  – MetroButler

Lisa Israelovitch (CEO/Founder) – Umapped

Eyal Raab (Business Development) – Riskified

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022 – Dan Ruch of Rocketrip – The Motivation to Save

How rewarding employees for responsible corporate travel saves money and boosts morale…

A misalignment — between the intent of corporate travel policies and the way employees manage travel expenses — results in tremendous financial waste. Dan Ruch, Founder of Rocketrip, offers insights on a behavioral change platform for large organizations interested in controlling travel costs and creating a positive climate, with employees rewarded for great behavior. Guest host Nick Vivion, Editorial Director of tnooz, joins hosts Pavan Bahl and John Matson at the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser. (Ruch’s profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/danruch/)

Splitting the savings, motivating and changing behavior, and an employee perk

Ruch discusses how travel is an emotional product and a misunderstood industry, how employees rewarded for great behavior, the ability to predict what a trip should cost, and proactively rewarding the behavior of employees who reduce travel costs and go above and beyond the call of duty (travel policy). How, if an employee beats a budget, half of the savings goes to the company, half to the employee, and how companies are usually controlling policies and creating friction as the usual way to control costs. Rocketrip’s guarantee policy, motivating and changing behavior, predictable motivation, and encouraging employees to save money. How employees become competitive within the company, and the platforms is a cost savings program masquerading as an employee perk, and an employee benefit program that pays for itself and helps retain and motivate talent.

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021 – Gillian Morris of HitList – Traveling, Your Way

Travel app with intelligent filters help you find trips that suit your time, destination preferences and budget…

Gillian Morris, Co-founder and CEO of Hitlist (a mobile app which sends users personalized, proactive alerts when there are cheap flights – profile), joins John Matson, Peter Crysdale and Marc Raco in the MouthMedia Network Studios in New York, powered by Sennheiser.

Optimal timing, a price graph, and an organic rate of growth

Morris discusses how the app alerts you, and how Hitlist monitors 50 million flights of data a day, and helps to save time and money and get you traveling more. How other flight search engines are about if you want to book right now and know what you want and where to go, but how booking at optimal times can save a lot of money. Driving the purchase so customers know the right moment, the price graph, how Hitlist has a use case, the way the organic growth rate is going up, being at a million users, and pride that they didn’t have to raise a lot of money.

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Special Report – Brittany Lewis of Chariot -The Midtown Mover

Chariot’s first NYC crowd-funded commuter route…

Brittany Lewis, Marketing Manager for Chariot (an app-based crowd-sourced commuter service and Ford Smart Mobility Company – (profile)) joins Marc Raco in the MouthMedia Network Studios powered by Sennheiser for a special announcement on a new crowd-funded route.

Lewis announces that after a month-and-a-half in Chariot’s fourth City, launching Chariotfirst crowd-funded route in New York City on October 10th, 2017. She clarifies how a crowd-sourced route works, why Chariot’s model is a significant urban opportunity, how urban growth created mobility issues, and Chariot and Ford looking at how to help get people where they need to go while considering other city issues. The sense of community with Chariot, the notion of on-demand and a personal experience, fostering the sense of community in the rides in a place like New York, and launching quickly after the first two routes in NYC. Plus, naming the service routes, and a special connection on a chariot for Lewis personally.

019 – Michal Alter of Visit.org – Good Will Traveling

Social impact travel experiences…

Michal Alter, Co-Founder and CEO at visit.org (building the world’s leading platform for social impact travel experiences, allowing millions of users to discover, support, and interact with ‘do-good’ organizations both virtually and in-person – (profile)) joins Pavan Bahl, John Matson and Peter Crysdale in the MouthMedia Studios, powered by Sennheiser.

A heavy social mission, surviving the early years, and boots on the ground

Alter discusses local and authentic activities while traveling, and how they will benefit each local community via dollars spent, how she had privilege to travel for prolonged periods of time and had enough time to randomly meet and interact with local people, inspiring the company. And why a heavy social mission, how Alter then became a director for refugee affairs, then serving community of 100k refugees and immigrants. How Visit.org is in 76 countries, aiming for 2,000 experiences, and how they got a crazy cool URL. Existing as a for-profit social enterprise, how early success and recognition allowed the company to survive while cultivating users and experiences, having boots on the ground and vigorous online research and approach, and all providers are local non-profits and social ventures.

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018 – Alex Shashou of ALICE – Here’s the Story of an App Named ALICE

Hotel operations connection platform with ALICE…

Alex Shashou, Co-Founder & President of ALICE (an operations system for every department in a hotel, connecting staff and guests – (bio)), joins Pavan Bahl and John Matson at the MouthMedia Network Studios.

Building partnerships, tracking and transitioning work, and the market opportunity

Shashou shares the biggest growth transition of ALICE, how is addresses the last frontier of travel, allows all department to communicate, gives guests access, connects different software systems, and how ALICE is building great partnerships with big names. Working primarily with high end 3 star to 5 star hotels, how it was started 2012 and moved from a guest app to a back end player that changed the business model, how the open API is utilized, tracking employee work, transitioning work from shift to shift, that hotels are not technology companies but a service company, and how boutique brands are building own guest experience and their own apps but using ALICE for the operational complexity. Now at 500 locations serviced, in Europe and North America, more than 150,000 non-chain hotels are the market, with a focus on hotels big enough to matter but not so small not to matter.

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