Interview with lastminute.com CEO Fabio Cannavale on trends in the travel industry

Interview with lastminute.com CEO Fabio Cannavale on trends in the travel industry
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I was invited to Seedstars Summit 2016 in Lausanne, Switzerland. Over 50 startups from emerging tech hubs around the world competed there for an investment of over $1 million. An exciting event filled with breakout sessions, panel discussions and specialized workshops and with some of the brightest minds from the fast growing startup scenes of Africa, Asia, LATAM, but also emerging countries of Europe.

This year, there was a special focus on travel startups, and lastminute.com group, a European leader in online travel and leisure made a $ 500’000 equity investment in the Ukrainian startup TRIPMYDREAM. I chatted withlastminute.com group CEO Fabio Cannavale.

What does lastminute.com group do?

We are a publicly traded multinational Group, among the worldwide leaders in the online travel industry, and we operate a portfolio of well-known brands such as lastminute.com, Bravofly, Rumbo, Volagratis and Jetcost. Every year, more than 10 million travellers book and manage their travel and leisure experiences through our websites and mobile apps in 17 languages and across 40 countries.

How do you travel, plan and book travels? As individual, and with family?

I like to organise the trips on my own and often give advise to all my friends. I am very curious, I like to study in advance the destinations and tailor all my trips. A few years ago, I launched a project to tour the world in a way that unspoiled and remote locations can be enjoyed aboard a state of the art sailing boat. I have brought on board friends, colleagues and family and together we visited places like Alaska, Greenland and the Galapagos Islands. These were inspiring and unique adventures, especially to experience the incredible nature in those parts of the world. I think my children will remember these trips all their life.

What are the latest trends in the travel industry? How do you see travel in several years?

Over the past years, the travel industry has changed a lot and this was mainly driven by innovation. In fact, travel is probably the industry that has been more deeply transformed by technology than any other industry. Just think of high-volume, speed, complexity, personalisation — these are all keywords representing the field where we operate every day.

And of course, mobile is changing how we discover, research, buy and experience. Travellers are continuously connected with the digital world and this again has completely changed consumer behaviour.

How does your company innovate? How do you work with startups?

lastminute.com group aims to be an inspiring travel company, committed to enrich the lives of travellers through smart technology and cutting-edge content. One passion of lastminute group is to stay lean and innovative. This is where the vision came from to launch a bold partnership with Seedstars World, and together, find the best travel startup from emerging markets.

Travel startups have become the drivers for industry-wide innovation. To be immersed in this flourishing environment and to nurture talents are two of the reasons why we became a partner of Seedstars over the last year . But we also have invested in 2015 in two small but promising start-ups: Map2App, an innovative platform providing dynamic maps, and Urbi, a mobile app which aggregates all sharing providers delivering services for urban transfer needs (cars, scooters, bicycles etc.).

Why did you partner with Seedstars World and sponsored the main travel part of the contest?

We know that meeting talents in the worldwide startup scene during our partnership with Seedstars would be very inspiring for us and our ambition to ensure we keep our entrepreneurial spirit. This is where the vision came from to launch this bold partnership with Seedstars World to find the best travel startups from emerging markets. We are genuinely interested in innovations in this exciting sector.

Anything you would add to tips on how to hack startup conferences we recently published?

On tips n. 3, I would add Top Secret Hotels of lastminute.com where customers can choose from a great range of hotels in key cities and save up to 35%. The hotel name stays a secret until after the booking — but before booking, to assist them in their choice, customers can find in the description a lot of information about the hotel as well as a ‘pink area’ on a map so they get an idea of where the hotel could be located.

On tips n. 9, I also recommend Urbi, the urban mobility app available for now only in Italy and Germany where you can find all the solutions of car, scooters and bike sharing.

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