Tag Archives: travel

Toronto Travel Startup SnapTravel Snaps $13.2m Additional Investment

Snaptravel , Toronto Travel startup, is super cool to use as you can just your Facebook messenger to talk to their smart AI enabled bot to secure the best deals on hotel websites around the world.

So it comes no surprise that they secured additional $13.2m on top of existing $8m to raise capital all the way $21.2m.

Even famous NBA star player Stephen Curry who plays for Golden State Warrior has decided to invest in the Toronto startup.

Snaptravel Co-founder and CEO Hussein Fazal said:

“Online hotel booking is an incredibly transactional and noisy process, where pop-ups and expiring offers inundate consumers. We are reimagining this experience – making booking hotels feel as natural and personal as talking to a friend. Beyond travel, we’re at the start of a shift in which consumers no longer shop on individual websites or apps, but entirely via conversations with brands.”

Not surprisingly customers have used their app to book over 350,000 nights at 35,000 different hotels across 5,800 cities.

Congrats Snaptravel – thanks for making Toronto great place to do business for startups. Sweet Travels.

Montreal App Hopper Gets Cut by Westjet / Air Canada

Hopper, Montreal startup, that provides travel deals, is in hot water this week due to their faulty PR campaign that landed them in trouble with both Westjet and Air Canada.

Hopper advertising PR campaign claimed (still claims?) that it will provide you, the user, with “secret fares” on its app at discounts of up to 35% off regular fares. They said that you can save up to $500.

Westjet and Air Canada denied that claim, saying that prices given to Hopper are the same prices they give to all their partner providers.

Severing Ties

Westjet said that are not happy with this false advertising and will no longer be working with Hopper:

“What WestJet is providing Hopper is the same fares and discounts our other partners have access to. This is a standard and long-standing practice in the commercial aviation industry. WestJet has always offered our guests low fares and we will continue to do do so through all of our selling channels.”

“Due to the confusion this has created in the marketplace, WestJet is severing ties with Hopper.”

WestJet said that even though it will cut parner ties with Hopper, Hopper still can access their published fares.

Air Canada said that they do not provide any special prices to Hopper that their other partners do not have access to. Air Canada has severed ties with Hopper as well.

Duncan Bureau, Air Canada’s VP of sales said:

“For someone to say that we have a secret fare and that it applies to all of our network is totally incorrect, it doesn’t happen.”

ACTA non-profit, membership-based organization representing the retail travel sector of Canada’s tourism industry, commended Air Canada and Westjet for severing ties with Hopper.

Hopper Not Backing Down

Hopper continued with their claim that they have access to “secret fares” with various airlines and have new ones like Air China and Turkish joining soon.

Hopper was not backing down , saying they have done nothing wrong. The email below was sent from Hopper spokeswoman Brianna Schneider to Huffpost to clarify:

“Airlines offer distinct fares to specific types of agencies, in our case online travel agencies, and they are marketed under a range of different brand names. We are currently contacting relevant parties to clear up any confusion.”

Where You Book Your Vacation From Matters

On a recent vacation search, one of our employees have decided to go down to Riviera Maya for a much needed rest. After searching through multiple reviews on Tripadvisor, he has came upon a wonderful resort of Grand Palladium in Riviera Maya.

Problem started when he started booking it, he got a price different from his wife’s travelling in England at that time even though both of them looked at the same hotel , same room , same dates.

A Big Difference

The difference was over $300 Canadian for each room. Because they were travelling with another couple and 2 kids, the savings went into over $1,000 difference for all them. So it does matter where you book from.

Booking Grand Colonial from Berkshire, England

Booking Grand Colonial from Toronto, Canada

 

A Travel Bug?

MustangJoe / Pixabay

We wondered if this was an error and went asking different people whether they had the same issue – Jason (last name redacted as per request) from Saskatchewan wrote to us in an email with a similar issue:

“Yeah.. I booked once from France, and then again a week later from London (cancelling the first booking as my dates were wrong). The total came out about the same. 2 weeks for like $4500 USD I think it was, for 4 of us. A travel agent here in Saskatoon was getting a price over $7000 CAD, or about $6100 USD, which is the price I got when I VPN’s through my home office in Saskatoon. Exact save everything – $4500 USD when going to their site from Europe vs $6100 USD when visiting from Canada.

The reason I cancelled and rebooked to change the dates was that I had free cancellation, and on contacting their reservations team to change the dates, they said they could only do it by changing the rate back to what I was quoted when visiting their site from Canada. This just to shift our days by one. So I went and cancelled and rebooked. Nothing was said when we checked it in. $1600 USD is a large difference. If anything, I thought it would be cheaper from Canada where our dollar for income takes us less far on an international basis.”

Not just Hotels – Airlines Also

dariolafelicia / Pixabay

If you are booking a flight, it is always advantageous to book from inside the country where you are flying to. It works when you are booking domestic flight in that country specifically vs outside.

Below quote and price comparison is taken from:  http://maphappy.org/

Take a look when we search of a flight to Ho Chi Minh City from Hong Kong. The normal pricing for this route is around $300, give or take. Frustratingly, I kept landing on the Hong Kong version of the United website, with price estimations at over $700 after figuring in the exchange rate. This was definitely more than what I wanted to pay, so I jumped on to the U.S. version of the site. Things got a little more affordable: the price dropped down to below $300. Sometimes the price difference isn’t this dramatic; sometimes you just end up saving a few dollars here or there. To test how prices differ, I ran a search for the exact route just now testing the French, British and American versions of the website, using the same dates. The small differences are palpable:

Lesson learned, where you book from can end up saving you and your family thousands of dollars. Beware!

Richard Branson Backs Toronto to Montreal 39 Minutes Hyperloop

Richard Branson’s company Virgin has officially decided to back Toronto to Montreal Hyperloop project. This hyperloop between two Canadian major cities will bring the trip that usually takes around 6 hours to just 39 minutes if built.

Imagine taking 5pm Hyperloop to dine at Moishes Montreal Steakhouse just to be in your bed in Toronto later that same night. OK OK that is a joke we have some amazing Moishes comparable steakhouses in Toronto but that is still pretty cool.

Jokes aside – it would be interesting to see once completed whether the real estate and job market be affected. Will you be able to live in the Little Burgandy, wake up at 7am, eat a croissant and drink your coffee,  walk to Bonaventure get on the 8am Hyperloop  and arrive at 9am for your financial team lead development job at 20 Bay St near Union Station Toronto? Then grab a Starbucks coffee at 5pm get on 5:30pm and meet up with your friends at 7pm on a rooftop patio in Old Montreal to have a beer? Will Toronto real estate prices collapse or grow even more? Will Montreal’s?

“We’ll be able to move between cities as if cities themselves are metro stops,” Shervin Pishevar, the executive chair for Hyperloop.

When asked what affect this will have on Real Estate, Lindsay Listanski, the Senior Manager of Media Engagement for Coldwell Banker Real Estate, said:

“Historically, home values in cities and areas close to a train line are typically inflated. People sacrifice the size of their home for an easier commute, valuing their time over the luxury of space and/or location. With the Hyperloop, people who felt handcuffed to a train line or airport could have a whole new world of living options opened up to them. As of May, the Hyperloop team plans to connect 35 US states spanning over 4,000 miles.Bottom line? This could be the largest real estate disruptor that we have and will ever see in our lifetime. All I can say is it is a great time to be in real estate.”

What is this Hyperloop project you might ask? The Hyperloop is a tunnel the uses electricity to propel a pressurized pod through it at extremely fast rates, unimpeded by external factors. This allows for exceptionally fast travel over long distances.

It is run by a privately-held company with 300 employees that is looking to eliminate the barriers of time and distance and unlock vast economic opportunities. Their mission is to have operational systems by 2021 that would validate the ability to design, finance and build a safe, revolutionary transportation technology that scales.

The Toronto Montreal loop was chosen as a finalists from hundreds of potentials loops in the world and would bring the trip down from 6 hours to 39 minutes. While this project is far from being completed, sponsor and partner like Virgin with billions of dollars in assets will definitely try to push this project right along.

Some other Hyperloop finalists were:

U.S.

Cheyenne – Denver – Puelbo (360 miles)
Chicago – Columbus – Pittsburgh (488 miles)
Miami – Orlando (257 miles)
Dallas – Houston (640 miles)

U.K.

Edinburgh – London (414 miles)
Glasgow – Liverpool (339 miles)

Mexico

Mexico City – Guadalajara (330 miles)

India

Bengaluru – Chennai (208 miles)
Mumbai – Chennai (685 miles)

Hyperloop Explained

Toronto Travel Website SnapTravel Raises $10M Series A

SnapTravel announced today an $8M USD Series A round led by iNovia Capital. SnapTravel allows users to find and book the perfect hotel room over SMS and Facebook Messenger.

Financing was provided by iNovia Capital as well as Lightbank, Bee Partners, and Hedgewood.

What is Snap Travel?

SnapTravel gives you access to great hotel deals over SMS and Facebook Messenger. No app to download. Send a message, book a room. We use a combination of machine learning and natural language processing to surface the best hotel recommendations at the best price. We are enabling commerce via messaging – the most natural environment on mobile.

SnapTravel CEO Hussein Fazal said:


“We are still in the early days of conversational commerce. But the trend is growing. Users want to chat with businesses, conduct commerce, and get things done within messaging apps – where they already spend most of their time.”

View booking video demo here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ySC_o4y67k

Canada might follow US / UK on laptop / tablets ban on flights

Canada is still considering whether to follow UK and US in their laptop and iPad carry on ban on airlines flying from Middle Eastern countries. The ban came into effect this past Saturday March 25th. This basically means you are now allowed to use your laptop during your flight. You can still use it at the airport but not take it with you with your carryon. You have to check the items in.

Airports that are now part of the ban are as follows.

US is now banning the following airports:

  • Queen Alia International Airport (AMM)
  • Cairo International Airport (CAI)
  • Ataturk International Airport (IST)
  • King Abdul-Aziz International Airport (JED)
  • King Khalid International Airport (RUH)
  • Kuwait International Airport (KWI)
  • Mohammed V Airport (CMN)
  • Hamad International Airport (DOH)
  • Dubai International Airport (DXB)
  • Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH)

UK is now banning airports located in:

  • Turkey
  • Lebanon
  • Egypt
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Jordan
  • Tunisia

Examples of larger electronic items are:

  • Laptops
  • Tablets
  • E-Readers
  • Cameras
  • Portable DVD players
  • Electronic game units larger than a smartphone
  • Travel printers/scanners

Some business travelers are wondering what they will now do on those long 15+ hour flights. Books are so  last century. But it is not really about inconvenience you have also greater chance of your laptop or tablet getting stolen or broken in your checked in luggage. The best idea is to encrypt your laptop.

You can always try to book your flight to travel through Europe for example from Turkey and then onwards to the US. This way the ban would not apply to you. However be aware even on connecting flights through Canada – for example Dubai to Detroit and then on to Montreal – the ban will still applies.

Even if you are US or Canadian citizen the ban would still apply to you.

But do not fret, maybe it is time to catch up on in flight media entertainment and catch up on your John Grisham’s book reading.

Montreal Hopper raises $82m – announces $1m in flights sold per day

Hopper, the mobile app that analyzes and predicts airfare, today announced it has secured $82M CAD in Series C financing led by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), one of North America’s largest pension fund managers. Existing investors Brightspark Ventures, Accomplice, OMERS Ventures, Investissement Québec and BDC Capital IT Venture Fund also participated in the round. The round is comprised of new funding, as well as a convertible note that was announced earlier in the year, and brings Hopper’s total funding to date to $104M CAD.

Hopper is currently the only company that can forecast future flight prices with 95% accuracy up to a year in advance of departure. The app recommends if you should book now or wait based on current and historical yield trends as well as pricing volatility. Hopper collects five to eight billion airfare price quotes daily, which amounts to 300 billion prices a month, and has built a huge historical archive of 5.2 trillion prices from the past several years.

“Hopper stands out through its innovation capability by using highly sophisticated technologies to predict customer demand and buying behaviour,” said Christian Dubé, Executive Vice-President, Québec at Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec. “This financing is intended to crystallize the company’s current lead in the market by enabling it to accelerate the pace of its development and global expansion.”

Hopper is a new kind of travel company that is reinventing the way people plan travel and book flights by leveraging the power of mobile conversation and big data in the form of trillions of flight prices. Today, Hopper is one of the fastest growing travel apps ever, with over 10 million installs since our launch in 2015, and behind it all is a team of 40-some passionate developers, designers, data scientists, growth hackers, creatives, travel junkies — and one dog.

Website: www.hopper.com