Israeli travel startups excel in int'l tourney

tourism, vacation  image: Shutterstock

Five Israeli companies have reached the semifinals of the 1st UNWTO Startup Competition.

Five Israeli travel tech startups reached the semifinals of the 1st UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization) Startup Competition, representing a quarter of the 20 startups reaching the semifinals.

Last June, UNTWO, together with Globalia, the leading tourism group in Spain and Latin America, announced an international competition for tourism startups. More than 1,000 companies from 132 countries applied for the competition. The five Israeli startups, which are members of the Israel Travel Tech Startups (ITTS) community, will take part in the semifinals, which will be held in Budapest.

One of the Israeli startups, Pruvo, founded in 2016, monitors the price of a room ordered in a hotel. Pruvo's service issues an alert if the price of the room falls, enabling the customer to reorder the room, thereby saving money. The company assumes that the price of most hotel overnights will fall over the time between ordering the room and arrival at the hotel. Pruvo adds that the service, which it provides after the customer who ordered the room sends the company an email, has saved customers a total of $1.4 million to date. Pruvo's service is available in seven languages. In addition to Israel, the company operates in Portugal, Italy, and Latin America.

The second Israeli startup to reach the semifinals is SeeVoov, which offers a platform for planning trips through videos highlighting dozens of destinations around the world. This not merely watching a clip in order to become acquainted with the destination; the trip can also be planned, with sites marked for visiting and a hotel room and a flight to the destination can be booked. The trip can be synchronized with a special app. The company's founders are CTO Yosi Golan and CEO Asaf Toker.

The third Israeli startup, Howazit, serves 2,000 organizations in 24 countries, including airlines, such as Singapore Airlines; hotels, including the Intercontinental hotel chain; retail chains like Dominos Pizza; ecommerce websites; etc. Howazit's platform emphasizes the important element of service and the connection between the company and the customer. The platform makes it possible to immediately solve problems encountered by customers, while facilitating insights about their preferences. The data stored by the system are utilized to broaden the connection with consumers using online digital means.

The fourth and relatively new startup, Refundit, began with a pilot in several countries, among them Belgium and Slovakia. Refundit streamlines and expedites the process of obtaining a VAT refund for tourists in accordance with the policy of the countries they visit. The company asserts that of the huge sum of €26 billion in VAT refunds to which tourists are entitled in Europe, 90% is not refunded, mainly because of tiresome bureaucratic and procedural difficulties. Refundit offers a VAT refund procedure through an app and full digitization of the process for 9% of the refund. The company's founders are Waze cofounder and former president Uri Levine, Refundit's chairperson, and Stockton cofounder Ziv Tirosh, the company's CEO.

The fifth startup Wishtrip serves as a social media network for sharing trips. It is an app based on the wisdom of the crowd providing routes for trips reflecting the experiences of other travelers, who can also post pictures and video clips. The app was developed by three haredi entrepreneurs.

ITTS founder and corporate open innovation expert Itai Green said, "The community is very proud of its representation beyond all proportion in the competition. This achievement comes on top of other achievements by the community's entrepreneurs in the past two years. They have won prizes and international recognition that are turning the startup nation into a travel-tech nation, too."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on September 13, 2018

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2018

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tourism, vacation  image: Shutterstock
tourism, vacation image: Shutterstock
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