033 – Selin Sonmez of Knock Knock City – Carry Less, Move Freely

Knock Knock City

Daily bag and luggage storage as part of the sharing economy…

Knock Knock CityEvery year, millions of travelers have the same experience when they check out of their AirBnB: what do they do with their luggage when trying to take in the sights on their last day of the trip? This is the story of someone who had to leave a street-wide amount of luggage under a staircase while traveling, and how they turned that into a business venture — “an AirBnB for luggage.”

Knock Knock CitySelin Sonmez, Co-founder of Knock Knock City, a storage network connecting travelers, commuters and urbanites to nearby local shops that brings the sharing economy to short-term storage of luggage and personal Items, joins hosts John Matson (VoyagerHQ), Nick Vivion (tnooz), and Brandon McKenzie (MetroButler) in the MouthMedia Network studios in New York, powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:Knock Knock City

  • Why AirBnBs for luggage are bubbling up suddenly, including because of how established AirBnB has become, the shared economy mindset, and how it is becoming an instinct to shareHow the fact that Knock Knock City is working with local shops enlists trust, and the shops want to make use of extra space
  • How businesses are reacting to the business model,
  • Retail shops are losing business to platforms like Amazon, looking for additional revenue, users enter the store twice, expanding exposure to, and traffic in, the shop, and how $2/bag per hour can actually add up
  • How AirBnB hosts react and handle advising guests on this service
  • The goal of digital verification system, which for now collects basic info through social media sign up, then the host is notified, and zip ties are fastened on the luggage or items with custom numbers for extra securityKnock Knock City
  • The fact that Knock Knock City hasn’t interacted with AirBnB Corporate yet, but is a supportive part of the community and on the list of AirBnB supportive services
  • What is driving more demand — AirBnB? Shopping? Business travels?
  • The kinds of shops most likely to partner, considerations of foot traffic, breakable items, available space
  • Why dry cleaners might be great partners
  • Looking at and learning from the patterns of users changing their storage plan as their travel and activity plans change
  • Future-pacing third-party pickup and drop off services
  • Makes use of existing unused space, how the use doesn’t take away from a marketing budget or interfere with operations
  • Knock Knock City’s oal to grow into more cities, reach as many people as possible, why it is easy to grow into other cities, given the absence of high infrastructure costs since primarily it is signing people up digitally
  • How empty space is shown available via the app, and managing location business hour limitations and any contingencies
  • Packing styles, roll or fold?
  • That time Sonmez was in Philadelphia, with trade show materials in huge suitcases, and needed to leave them unattended under the staircase at the AirBnB brownstone, and how this inspired a business
  • The goal of helping people to do what they want to and go where they want to: moving freely

032 – Kelly Louise of Impact Travel Alliance – Global Goals

Kelley Louise

Utilizing tourism as a force to solve United Nations global sustainability goals…

Kelley LouiseThe decisions travelers make on their trips have a lasting impact on the global community. Whether an elephant wrangler added to an Instagram story, or the hotels travelers choose to stay at, how can travelers align travel itineraries to align with the UN’s goals for sustainability. Kelley Louise, Founder of Impact Travel Alliance (a non-profit organization and community for travelers and travel professionals interested in improving the world via travel and tourism) joins hosts John Matson and Nick Vivion (tnooz) in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

Kelley Louise

  • Louise discusses the nature of the global goals for the UN, and how, while many doubt the travel industry can solve them, the travel industry can be a significant force of meeting those goals
  • Global goal number one, no poverty, and using tourism as a force to solve that
  • Launching an initiative last year of hosting a multi-chapter event, with several cities at the same time, themed with addressing a global goal (currently: innovation)
  • Impact Travel Alliance as a non profit, and a community for travel and travel professionals interested in improving the world via travel
  • Launching the first chapter less than 3 years ago, now some 30 chapters worldwide
  • What is cool about improving the world through travel, and how it is universally appealing
  • Sustainable tourism focused on business and leisure travel, small pivots that make a big difference, such as donations to charity resulting in discounts on hotels
  • Why sustainable tourism/travel doesn’t have to be only budget or luxury
  • How The Culture Collective started as blog, became a creative agency, with Louise landing a job in Uganda, then traveling all around and learning a lot about sustainable tourism
  • The challenge and opportunity of helping brands identify demographics
  • Vegan donuts
  • What sustainable travel really means
  • The power of immersive experiences in changing travel behaviors and priorities
  • How the Impact Travel Alliance is eager and open to collaboration, sharing best practices with one another
  • The three parts of Impact Travel Alliance: global conferences, local chapters, and a media network
  • How Louise learned to plan events, and how her personal drive to do so is wanting a place in the community that felt like a home in the travel industry
  • Seeing something in tourism that is negatively impacting the world, such as elephant tourism in places like Thailand, and a “paradise” that is surprisingly polluted
  • Thinking about what one’s long-term impact on the environment is when traveling, and how some things feel good but don’t have a positive long-term impact
  • Sustainable experiences are empowering and often the most memorable experiences

031 – Evelyn Badia of The Hosting Journey – Being The Perfect AirBnB Host

Evelyn Badia

Making a real income as an outstanding AirBnB Host…

Evelyn BadiaEvelyn Badia, Founder of The Hosting Journey, joins Pavan Bahl and Brandon McKenzie (MetroButler), in a conversation about her journey as an AirBnB Host and coach for other hosts, in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

Evelyn Badia


  • Badia’s work as an AirBnB Host and AirBnB Coach, teaching how to do AirBnB right
  • Her prior work as a producer for TV commercials
  • Why she started hosting when economy shifted, before AirBnB was popular.
  • Living with strangers vs. losing your house, and learning about this from a NY Times article
  • A lot of people start AirBnB out of necessity, and then decide they like it
  • How Badia had too much time on her hands, then started traveling, then moved from casual hosting to it as a full time job, then a hosting coaching career (in part due to her lawyer)
  • When AirBnB hosting became a six figure income for Badia
  • How she never stopped because the economy never picked up, and jobs were never the same
  • How she was talking about AirBnB too much, and coaching became the obvious thing
  • That time the AirBnB founders tapped her to talk in New York when things were starting to happen there with AirBnB
  • Vacation rental owner typically have different mindsets than AirBnB hosts, how it is about need vs. privilege
  • Evelyn BadiaWhy AirBnB may be moving away to some degree marketing of individuality of hosts, even hotels on platform
  • Implications of prospective regulatory issues on certain visitors
  • How the character of the guest has changed over time
  • The importance of cleanliness, new sheets, why Badia doesn’t do bar soaps, the importance of an amazing house manual, and sharing the things on your neighborhood you know, being very specific
  • Buying for the refrigerator, make sure basic things have been provided (ie, milk)
  • Pricing strategy, how everything affects business — from weather to politics – adjusting weekly
  • The Hosting Journey open Facebook group for hosts international
  • Is a full time tenant a good idea?
  • How Badia is staying connected to community, podcast, webinars,
  • Being very clear about offerings and what an AirBnB host provides
  • Horror stories, and how guests have even seen Badia naked
  • What is it like living with strangers all the time, how Badia’s personal life navigates around being an AirBnB host
  • Why Badia doesn’t care about her personal and AirBnB lives mixing, and why she prefers guests who are exploring NYC
  • And the goal of a future TV show
  • Selling sauce that won the “Oscars of sauce”, triathalons, and how having an AirBnB allowed her the flexibility to deal with health issues

030 – Mark Halberstein of SIMPLENIGHT – Experience is Everything


B2B2C global distribution platform for in-destination experiences with Simplenight…

Mark HalbersteinSimplenight discusses how destination experiences fit into an $800 billion global business, and how the tech infrastructure for searching and booking is fragmented, consumers have to use a number of sites and apps, which is inefficient and time wasting.

Halberstein, Founder/CEO of SIMPLENIGHT (a Global Experience Platform™ providing cloud based distribution, inventory management, merchandising and technology solutions for the travel industry) joins Marc Raco and Nick Vivion (tnooz) in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

Defragmenting experiences, a GDS with various touchpoint, and what’s next in the mix

He discusses how destination experiences fit into an $800 billion global business, and how the tech infrastructure for searching and booking is fragmented, consumers have to use a number of sites and apps, which is inefficient and time wasting. A GDS for in destination experiences, tours/activities, box office events, night life, etc., how this made them sellable, building a cloud-based one-stop shopping experience, offering an API, various touch points, OTAs, search engines, a layer of in-vehicle destination planning in the future, partnerships with Jaguar and Land Rover, how it can be a booking flow, banner ad, SMS, in the concierge desktop, and many other touchpoints, out on property and off property seamlessly to serve to the customer. How meetings and car rentals are on the radar as future sectors in the mix.

Creating an infrastructure, the name, and harnessing data and insights

How developing relationships and understanding pain points has been critical to growing the business. And that if you can design the proper infrastructure for distribution and hosting content across categories, the supply community will seek you out. Origins and implications of the name SIMPLENIGHT, and how a great day leads to a simple night. Allowing people to arrange a superior and remarkable experience, business-to-business vs. consumer facing versions of SIMPLENIGHT, an original vision of one-stop shop for fun, looking at when data is shared, making SIMPLENIGHT smarter and knowing you better, anticipating desires and needs, and utilizing and harnessing data and insights.

Listening, experiencing the world, and becoming your audience

Personal Questions cover making sure to enjoy experiences at every destination, photography, the importance of listening and try to listen even more. Becoming your audience, trusting your gut and being in tune with market. Halberstein is listening a lot to his wife and her influence, always being open to new opportunities and to meeting new people, and the reason to make sure and experience the world.

029 – Brianne Kimmel of Zendesk – Supporting Customers Like a Human


Customer experience and customer support in travel and hospitality…

Brianne KimmelZendesk, GTM (Growth, Marketing Strategy, Audience & Industry) at Zendesk (which builds software for better customer relationships, empowering organizations to improve customer engagement and better understand their customers) joins John Matson and Pavan Bahl in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

End-to-end communication, being more human, and driving innovation

ZendeskKimmel describes Zendesk as a software company which builds products to improve customer experience and customer support for companies like AirBnB, Expedia, etc. and end to end communication such as chatbots. Training representatives to speak more conversationally, humans to be more human, especially since most contacts are because of a problem and people expect a human response back. More conversational travel companies are driving innovation. OTAs feel responsible for customer experience, share info with providers.

Data insights, Zendesk for startups, and the future of changing travel

ZendeskData insights driven to clients, a foundation for great marketing, thinking a lot around AI, machine learning, voice, how you build self-serve knowledge base. Zendesk for Startups, free software of full suite of products for 12 months for startups (including support), ensuring startups talk to customers early and often and ask the right questions. The future of mobility, the way people traveling changing, how autonomous vehicles can change travel and media consumption, fewer people owning cars, how that will impact weekend getaways, and marketing, starting the funnel and targeting.

Sydney, China, and hyper-local community building

Kimmel living in Sydney for years, building a local product in China, building hyper local communities, early performance marketing, paid user acquisition. How building local communities is very different in China, working with local community managers. Surfing and sailing in Sydney, and loving Cape Town in South Africa.

028 – Payam Safa of Bellhop -Transparent Transportation

Payam Safa

All-in-one ride-hailing app making ride sharing transparent…

Payam Safa, Founder & CEO of Bellhop (an all-in-one ride-hailing app enabling price comparisons and ride-booking from multiple ride-sharing companies) joins Marc Raco, Nick Vivion (tnooz) and Brandon McKenzie (MetroButler) in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

A lack of transparency, bringing all into one, and obtaining API access

Safa discusses how consumers don’t have transparency across multiple apps, why Bellhop is starting with ride hailing, how many consumers shift between different apps in a non-transparent environment constantly shifting to find best ETA/price. Bellhop is bringing all apps into one, enabling consumers to make more informed decision to save time and money. Offering direct API access to companies, either building for them or first company to have access to API.

A race to the bottom, an ally in a new CEO, and loyalty programs

How rideshare companies are starting to accept their fate that they are interchangeable. A race to the bottom, capturing rideshare, no brand loyalty, determining the need/demand, and knowing ridesharing companies were determined to agree to this, and why the new CEO of Uber is a key to the opportunity. Potential loyalty programs at rideshare companies, incentives, and a potential program for random upgrades.

Data, global expansion, and the pain of pivoting

The data of Bellhop, price transparency for the consumer, and how the purpose of aggregating is the transparency. Why Bellhop changed focus onto ride hailing, and the initial version had one partner in a vertical (food delivery, ride hailing tours, etc). The name Bellhop and its fit with vision as business focus has changed, and whether this is a data play globally? The need to build supply in other markets in order to go international, working with air travel for most efficient way to travel, and an exciting pilot working with the Port Authority of NY and NJ along with other partnerships to grow demand. Plus, personal questions cover the path of pain of business pivots, and stirring things up on the dance floor.

027 – Chubi Nwagbara of Emadri – Packed with Preparation


Shopping and travel packing list…

EmadriChubi Nwagbara, Co-Founder at Emadri (and TheVane, the place to shop the items missing for your next trip), joins Pavan Bahl, John Matson and Peter Crysdale in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

Working with booking platforms, likely users, and impact of various factors on recommendations

Nwagbara discusses communication flow, how client partners have multiple options, how bookings are pushed to TheVane, then the info hits algorithm and the booking platform offers recommendations. Taking into account how weather, dates, gender, age, and purpose of travel all impact recommendations, the typical type of people who want to use and how it also affects recommendations, and why business travelers know what they need to pack so leisure travelers are the most likely users.

Data differences widgets and white labeling, and TheVane

Being able to give style preferences via social media, engaging consumers to learn more, and the difference in data collected and available between different parts of travel industry. The end goal and motivation to be in space for Emadri, providing widgets on travel sites, offering white labeling, and how TheVane is where they started and they have evolved. Having information on travelers in advance of trips, and what travelers are interested in doing on trips.

Revenue model, a sharing economy opportunity, and a lion mane

The value for retailers from an aggregated data standpoint, and how the value-add is the algorithm. The revenue model as software as a service or commission on sales of any product. Sharing economy vs. buying and delivery, some want for customization, some want for revenue, some for both. Airline partners vs. hotel partners, and how airlines provide more data. Personal questions with Off the Beaten Path cover Choose your own Adventure, the strangest item of clothing in a closet, and the mane of a real lion for Halloween.

Happier, Healthier, Better – 2018 Ford Trends Report with Sheryl Connelly

Sheryl Connelly

Big picture global macro patterns and behaviors, with Sheryl Connelly…

Sheryl ConnellySheryl Connelly, Global Trends and Futuring Manager (a.k.a. Corporate Futurist) for Ford Motor Company, talks with MouthMedia Network President Pavan Bahl about the insights and implications of the 2018 Ford Trends Report. Recorded at the MouthMedia Network studios, powered by Sennheiser. Read the 2018 Ford Trends Report here.

Data for all, giving younger people purpose, and seeking solutions

Connelly reveals how the report previously was kept proprietary and inside Ford, but now it is cascading it widely, as it is functionally agnostic. The brief is that the more it was shared that Ford received more insights. She discusses how trust is a trend that can’t be overestimated. She reviews the personal note to the reader, and how disorientation, disparity, and inequities cannot be ignored anymore, that people want to explore them and look for solutions and how the world is committed to looking for solutions. Being thoughtful in how to engage young people to give them purpose, working in emerging markets, endeavoring to be sure Ford is meaning the same thing around the world, elevating to truly a global space. How the whole landscape of automotive industry is evolving, and Ford is playing a leadership role.

An activist awakening, mental and physical health, and the Ford Hub

Uncertainty and confusion globally, an activist awakening, discovering the degree of intolerance of opposing viewpoints, and the understanding of the impact of individual actions on change. When thinking about solutions, whether women can feel safe and have accessible options, a societal cultural shift, how mental well being goes along with physical health, creating a culture of curiosity that opens the door for innovation, the impact of sleep on health and weight loss, disconnecting from work in order to grow and explore, and mending the mind. Retail, and pop up retailers such as Story offers evolution in use case and agile experiences. And the Ford Hub brand experience in the World Trade Center Oculus in New York City.

Managing data, autonomous vehicles, and the changing family

Sheryl ConnellyHow the younger generation doesn’t care about giving personal information, and how brands can be distinguished by how they act as stewards of info. Autonomous driving features/autonomous vehicles, how we are already driving a semiautonomous vehicle, so the building blocks are already there. Bringing autonomous vehicles widely into reality will be partly dependent on legal, municipal, and other influencers, and how with this comes a greater level of responsibility for Ford. In 2021, when Ford brings its first autonomous vehicles to the streets will they be ride hailing and package delivery vehicles. Ford is “all in” with major investment and commitment, and it is something definitely coming. What it looks like offers various possibilities, addressing concerns of jobs going away. In the past the biggest fear with automation was what we’d do with our leisure time, but that didn’t happen. A lot of data in the “singled out” section—a lot of data on what average family means, for first time in America’s history there are more single people than married. Yet people maintain that single people are treated differently, and the definition of the nuclear family has changed. What kind of vehicles does that now mean, understanding how shifts might change affects how and where production is determined.The future plays out in ways that are tough to imagine. The resilience of the human spirit, and awe inspiring, head scratching data.

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.