Over the past decade, travel agents have gradually lost their dominance over trip planning, hotel booking and airline tickets, while the tourism industry has shifted to the internet. In the meantime, alongside giant web portals such as Expedia and Orbitz, smaller travel tech companies have arisen. The tourism industry has seen the birth of many startups with big dreams to revolutionize the way people travel and vacation. These companies have raised funds and gathered millions of users around the world, while maximizing efficiency and ease in the fields of transportation, air travel and tourism.
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In the melting pot of tech and innovation that is Israel, the annual International Mediterranean Tourism Market expo recently showcased some of the Israeli leaders in digital transit and travel. Yes, there’s more to Israeli travel tech than the popular navigation app Waze, which sold to Google for $1.1 billion in 2013. Here are NoCamels’ top Israeli travel tech companies that will make traveling much easier this spring:
Lost track of your frequent flyer miles? Haven’t used your miles in years? Well, you’re at risk of losing hundreds of dollars worth of miles. Enter Israeli startup SuperFly, which manages your miles and loyalty points with different airlines, car rentals and hotels. “SuperFly uses your entire history of travel to figure out which options from the ones that are presented to you are the best,” SuperFly CEO Jonathan Meiri told NoCamels.
Forget tourist traps and overcrowded restaurants; EatWith offers authentic dining experiences in locals’ homes. Founded by Guy Michlin and Shemer Schwartz in 2012, EatWith is often described as the Airbnb of food. In recent years, Israeli EatWith has gained popularity among tourists and native residents alike, giving people opportunities to enjoy homemade delicacies, learn about the local cuisine, and enjoy conversations with people from around the globe. With roughly 500 active hosts in 160 cities around the world, EatWith has shown the power of the sharing economy. Recently, the company won a $4.9 million award in advertising money from ProSieben, providing an opportunity to share its vision on multiple media platforms.
Once you arrive at your destination, you usually use public transportation – but which bus line will drive you to the Metropolitan Museum of Art the fastest? Israeli app Moovit can help you. The app has changed the way people use public transportation, using crowd-sourcing data and real-time information from passengers, as well as from other resources, in order to recommend the fastest public transport routes at any given time. Founded in 2011 by Nir Erez, Roy Bick and Yaron Evron, the app was launched in Israel in 2012 . Working to reproduce Waze’s success, but with public transportation users, the app is now available in 500 cities around the globe, where it’s integrated with taxi services such as GetTaxi. Moovit boasts 15 million users, it has recently raised $50 million and is valued at $450 million.
Most people know the annoyance of running to catch a bus, barely making it, and then dropping all contents of your wallet as you fumble for change to pay for a ticket. Israeli app HopOn, created in 2012 by Ofer Sinai and David Mezuman, addresses this frustration. HopOn makes public transport payment efficient and effortless – executed through a simple click of a button on your smartphone, much like an electronic wallet. The app can be used for buses, light-rail trains, and bike rental stations. HopOn’s main goal is to completely change the experience of using public transit and to make the ticketing process as effortless as possible.
The Israeli company that brought the taxi-hailing whistle to your smartphone screen is GetTaxi: Just a few clicks, and a taxi is on its way. App users can get estimated time of arrival, receive information about their driver including a picture, name, license, phone number and ratings by other users. The app founded by Shahar Waiser and Roi More, is available in 32 cities, and reaches 15 million users, with one GetTaxi ride every second at peak times. “We want to be the preferred public transport, inside and outside of the city. We aim to educate people that it is legitimate and cost-effective to leave their cars at home and ride with GetTaxi,” Iris Hermon, GetTaxi’s head of marketing, told NoCamels.
Guesty offers management services for Airbnb hosts. Founded by Amiad and Kobi Soto in 2013, this service allows Airbnb hosts to choose from a variety of online tools for 3 percent of the Airbnb price listing. Some of these services include screening guests to fit the host’s demands, sending e-mails before and after rental periods, and even scheduling cleanings. The app even helps the host determine an appropriate rental rate by evaluating the prices of hotels and rentals nearby. “The vision of Guesty is changing the way short-term rentals are managed and helping Airbnb hosts reduce their hassle and increase their bookings,” Nathan Tobin, Guesty’s head of marketing, told NoCamels.
Every traveler has experienced the frustration of canceling hotel bookings and fighting to be refunded. Founded in 2011 by Gon Ben-David, Ben Froumine, and Adi Zellner, Roomer is the Israeli startup that has risen to the challenge of helping people avoid cancellation fees. The concept of Roomer is to connect travelers who cancel their trips with travelers who are looking for hotel deals. Roomer alleviates travelers’ frustration by acting as a marketplace for non-refundable hotel reservations, which top hundreds of millions of dollars a year.