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Tel aviv breakfast

Discovering the taste of Tel-Aviv with Bitemojo

If you love hidden city gems, stories and good food, try spending a day with Bitemojo. That is what we did on one sunny Friday morning.

Bitemojo is a self-guided culinary and culture tour. You install the application on your iPhone or Android device, buy the tour and go at your own pace.The cities currently covered are Barcelona, Rome, Berlin, Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem. London is coming soon.  The tour includes six "bites" – tasting portions of food and drinks in carefully chosen locations. Although in Tel-Aviv tour I would rather call them "gigabites" – we asked for a take-away bag already at the second location, since my "tasting portion" of sweet potato chips was huge!  

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Start-up review: GivingWay

From all travel start-ups that I met at TravelTech 2016 conference in Tel Aviv, GivingWay touched my heart the most. This is a group of passionate people committed to make volunteering tourism more affordable by directly linking potential volunteers to non-profit organizations.

Their website now grants a direct access to over 300 organizations (and growing) spanning more than 70 countries – from Europe to Asia, from Africa to Latin America. The opportunities include educational, social, healthcare and ecological projects. The host organizations often provide accommodation and/or meals. The volunteer still have to pay the airfare and sometimes a "volunteering fee" to NGO, but not to the placement agent.

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Travel Tech Start-ups: a gold field or a desert?

Last week I attended Travel Tech Israel 2016 conference in Tel Aviv: a unique event that brought together travel start-ups, large industry players and venture investors.  Here I want to share with you the insights from investors’ panel – if you run a travel start-up or have a “next big idea”, this summary is for you.

B2C model – The Loyalty Problem

The good news is that tourism is a huge industry worldwide. It generates 10% of global GDP and create 1 of every 11 jobs worldwide.

The bad news is that tourism is not an easy place for start-ups. Large players like hotel chains, airlines, online travel agencies (OTAs) like, Expedia,, etc., are squeezing the value from the supply chain. The investors’ consensus is that “nothing can beat the existing ecosystem unless something revolutionary happens”. Overall, B2C segment is viewed by investors as a “death zone”.

The main problem in selling travel-related services directly to individuals is low customer loyalty – the customer switches from you to your competitor in a blink of an eye, if the latter offers a better price or extra features. This results in very high customer acquisition costs. In fact, every single sale should cover the costs for customer acquisition.  Look for business models allowing large one-off transactions (e.g., premium or group packages) to cover customer acquisition costs. Example: WeTrip, a platform for group booking of activity packages for football matches, skiing and biking tours.

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Start-up review: Stray Boots

Do you like scavenger hunts how I do? People who know me well may remember that three of my Tel Aviv scavenger hunts were sold via Stray Boots mobile application.

Stray Boots is an American start-up offering group and individual mobile scavenger hunt tours. This market is full of small players, but very few of them manage to scale their business significantly, so this case is definitely worth to look at.

They started with a mobile application for individual and small-group scavenger hunt tours which offered a 2-3-hour city walk full of puzzles, riddles and fun facts. Then the company decided to go global and developed an editing tool, that allowed people to create their own tours – either for private use or for sale in the mobile application (after the tour is edited and approved by the Stray Boots team). That's when I learned about them and we started to work together.

After couple of years, however, they decided to close the global program – apparently it was taking too much time and effort, but did not bring the expected profit. Now the company is concentrating mainly on corporate team-buildings and group tours in the U.S.

The lesson that I learned from Stray Boots is "don't be afraid to change your business model if you see that your original one does not pay off". This sounds obvious, but it takes a lot of courage and vision to scrap some of your previous work and go to a different direction. Good luck, guys!

Do you know other impressive stories of such "strategic U-turns"?Please share in comments.

Efficient online contest: the lessons from TourRadar

TourRadar is a great case of how to carry out a giveaway/lottery of travel (or, actually, any!) product or service to achieve a good balance of involvement and efficiency.

The usual problem with giveaways is that if you have a low entrance barrier to the lottery (e.g., a like or a comment), the participants would be more eager to join the contest, but the spread of information and your reach to new audience would be limited. On a contrary, if you require a "Share" or a personal post with a mention of your contest, the reader may be more reluctant to participate.

Tour Radar solves this issue by offering differentiated options for participating in a giveaway. The initial "entrance barrier" is minimal – you just need to enter your email and name. Then the website offers you to increase your chances of winning by sharing the link to the contest on social networks and by doing a "treasure hunt" – clicking through the company's website and finding some information on it. It's also a psychogical trick – people are much more likely to share content to "increase their chances" when they are already inside the loop.

And cherry on the top – the company would further re-target the participants by sending them marketing emails once in a while. Overall, great promotion case!