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

057 – Kelsey Recht of VenueBook – Right Space, Right Time


Streamlining the interaction between event organizers and venues…

VenueBookKelsey Recht, CEO/Founder of VenueBook (a platform offering event venues that you can search, discover and book), joins John Matson and Bess Chapman in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

  • A look at the meeting and events industry and what drives growth
  • Despite digital, no substitute for in-person meetings, companies are hosting more events, but the types are changing
  • Different ways people thinking about meetings, how the travel industry has to adapt to changing landscape
  • VenueBooks’s user acquisition
  • The influx of accidental event planners
  • Circumventing issues with inventory side
  • Becoming skilled at helping venues skew inventory toward what is most in demand
  • The attention to better experiences
  • A focus on top notch booking experience overall, a very sophisticated platform
  • How VenuBook conversion rate is at 20%
  • Availability and pricing are generally the biggest friction.
  • Transparent pricing helps
  • Customers are in the market 45 days in advance of event, booking around 30 days in advance
  • Traditional hotel chains have dropped commissions with the promise of better tech tools
  • Making it easier/faster to book event spaces for planners and venues
  • Venues are top of funnel
  • Spinning up in new cities and with new venues, helping people think of spaces as venue spaces, giving hotels ideas for selling inventory they wouldn’t think of

056 – Allison Daniels of Virgin – Traveling and Building a Better World


Virgin and its mission of changing (travel) business for good…

VirginAllison Daniels, Investment Manager at Virgin (a leading international investment group and one of the world’s most recognised and respected brands), joins John Matson and Bess Chapman in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

  • Changing business for good
  • Taking mundane experience or pain point and turning it into something better
  • Making things better from sustainability to safety videos
  • Capital intensive investment strategy, legacy and opportunistic
  • Taking people to the next frontier
  • Virgin Voyages  – new cruise business
  • Whensuper-expericed people live and breathe the Virgin ethos and lead a new initiative
  • A new way to cruise in a sector hungry for disruption, integrate health and wellness and a beautiful ship designed in part by known designers on land, making ship work for customers, technology plays a big part
  • A lot more to be revealed about the ships, and the ecosystem on how the ships are built and limited suppliers
  • How new technology and innovation can allow Virgin to make new experiences available
  • Opening more hotels, how fit in voyage ecosystemVirgin
  • Hotels have distinguishing elements making them feel very “Virgin”, such a club that makes it feel like a members club
  • All rooms are chambers
  • Ships can sail where the hotels are, an entire Virgin experience
  • Virgin loyalty program, and creating a structured Virgin ecosystem
  • Making venture investments into innovation that have synergy to the general Virgin portfolio such as Ring
  • How offerings are changing because you have to do better for the customer has lasted in the industry
  • People now know what Virgin stands for
  • Brands to admire

055 – Yannis Moati of Hotels by Day – Reimagining Hotel Revenue

Yanni Moati

Day-use hotel rooms with early check-in as a hospitality marketing and revenue hack…

Yanni MoatiYannis Moati, CEO of Hotels by Day (gives travelers a comfortable daytime hotel room for half the price of an overnight stay), joins John Matson and Bess Chapman in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

  • The biggest opportunity hotel revenue management – the idea of reimagining a hotel
  • Revenue management is a new science, becoming complex
  • New orthodoxies in hotel revenue creation being developed regularly
  • Conversation has changed from disinterest to wanting to discussYanni Moati
  • A niche play in nascent sector
  • Flexibility of hotel consumption, responding to an on demand society
  • A rigid check-in/out schedule doesn’t work for today’s society
  • Protocol, tech, marketing funnel to become more flexible one step at a time, because it’s a big operation
  • Hotels don’t see this as hourly play – more like a block of time
  • Types of hotels that Hotels by Day works with, segmenting customer base based on hotels they have
  • Sweet spot are 4 stars, then 3 stars, then 2 stars if they have a record of accomplishmentYanni Moati
  • Customer acquisition is costly
  • A marketing hack to acquire new customers
  • Growing organically
  • Experience is the key in a day stay
  • Being on Shark Tank
  • Why Hotels by Day will be the winners by allowing hospitality to join when they are ready
  • Barely scratched surface of possible demand, giving it time to grow
  • Part of sharing economy, using idle space and making use of it in a different way
  • Technology doesn’t allow flexibility and agility to follow trends of modern society in hospitality, don’t have the right tools
  • And the reinvigoration of the soul by the sea
  • The main drive of being able to help people

054 – Chris Dankberg of Viasat – Chasing a 700mph Plane with WiFi

The real story behind WiFi on flights with Viasat…

Chris Dankberg, who runs Partnerships for Viasat (a global communications company that believes everyone and everything in the world can be connected) joins John Matson and Bess Chapman in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

  • How Viasat is about solving really hard problems
  • Why WiFi is slow on flights
  • Prior to 5 years ago,ViaSat was about WiFi via satellite for government and private air services
  • People got used to texting and checking sites that were urgent for destination (weather, hotels, etc.)
  • The growth of market for Viasat’s tech , high capacity satellites over different frequency bands enabled differently, market wasn’t ready
  • Why WiFi on planes is so expensive
  • Allocating capacity on an as-needed basis
  • Unprecented bandwidth economics
  • The abiity that you could hand off seamlessly from ground to air started being palatable
  • The opportunity waited for Viasat to launch a satellite
  • Demand wasn’t forecasted correctly, so there wasn’t enough supply for demand
  • Started with business travelers with expense accounts
  • Battery life on laptops got better, people started using phones
  • Something not considered was that the whole plane would use wifi
  • Tech is evolving, organizing data on what is important to customers how they used it
  • Second and third screen use and solving that need
  • Pain point – trains – slower with more tunnels, different angle to sky
  • On the early side of making online video streaming real with companies like Amazon
  • Disconnecting when traveling because of little kids demanding full attention
  • Trips that changed Dankberg’s life, created big decisions

053 – Thomas Sparico of Brand New Matter and Gillian Morris of HitList – Venture Capital in Travel

Venture Capital in Travel

The state of travel, the explosion of travel technology, venture capital, and the future of the industry from the perspective of investors in the travel space…

Venture Capital in TravelThomas Sparico, Founder/Managing Partner of Brand New Matter and Gillian Morris, Founder of HitList [Episode 33] join John Matson, Bess Chapman, and guest host Brandon McKenzie for a MouthMedia Network Live event recorded in front of a live audience at Experience by Knotel, an interactive space located in the heart of Noho in New York City (666 Broadway) designed to showcase the experience of working in a flexible, adaptable, always energized environment. Sponsored by Knotel – Your agile business deserves an agile space. Knotel will find, customize, and operate your ideal office while you focus on your business. Discover more at www.knotel.com

In this episode:

  • The fundraising landscape in travel, how it feels like someone else is getting all the money
  • A lot of investors have been burned in the travel industryVenture Capital in Travel
  • Location matters such as NY vs. SF
  • Knowing where to look, right people to talk to
  • B-to-B, B-to-C , and is B-to-C is the graveyard?
  • Liking people, liking business, taking data drven justifiable approach
  • Developing strategic and meaningful relationships
  • What Brand New Matter looks for in a company and founders
  • Strategic vs. nonstrategic money
  • Taking dumb money and how it affects a cap table
  • Q and A

Thomas Sparico is the Founder & Managing Partner of Brand New Matter (BNM) Ventures. BNM Ventures invests in pre-seed and seed stage companies. His current investments include Leaflink, Bizly, VenueBook, Seatboost, AirportSherpa, LYNQ, Beachy and Buster. He is an advisor to several travel industry companies including Rocketrip and Curacity. Tom is a career entrepreneur, inventor, operator and investor with 22 years of experience. He was part of the founding team at priceline.com and a named inventor on over 100 patents at Walker Digital Corp. He was the founder and CEO of Internet Travel Enterprises, led the acquisition and turnaround of Hickory Travel and the turnaround and subsequent sale of ECS to Onyx Centersource.

Gillian Morris is the founder and CEO of Hitlist, named one of the 50 Best Apps of 2016 by TIME. Before entering the start-up world, Gillian worked as a consultant, journalist, and educator in Turkey, China, the Gulf states, and Syria. Her work has appeared in/on the New York Times, Harvard Business Review, Buzzfeed, CNN, CNBC, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and LifeHacker. She is a proud mentor with the School of Leadership Afghanistan and Gaza Sky Geeks and serves on the board of Data4America, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank dedicated to bringing data and conversations to advance the understanding of policy.



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