From Airbnb to Atlas Obscura, the most innovative travel companies of 2023 are ‘anticipating the changing desires of travellers’. Olivia Palamountain reports
American business magazine Fast Company has unveiled a round-up of the world’s most innovative travel companies 2023. Part of a wider report detailing the firms making the biggest impact across 54 categories, including advertising, beauty and design, the full 2023 list of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies name-checks 540 organisations that are reshaping industries and culture.
When it comes to Fast Company’s top ten travel companies, there’s an interesting mix of industry stalwarts (Airbnb, Delta), an insurance company making RV travel easier and an ad campaign from Puerto Rico, a country in the throes of reinvention.
What do all the best travel companies of 2023 have in common? Anticipating the changing desires of travellers.As reported by Fast Company, after what co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky calls a “near-death business experience” in 2020, Airbnb had its strongest year on record in 2022, taking in US$8.4 billion in revenue and $1.9 billion in net income – its first profitable full year.
It succeeded, says Chesky, by getting rid of distracting side projects and focusing on how to make its core product – home rentals – better for travelers and hosts alike. For travellers, that means being able to search for accommodations based on what they want to do, not simply where they want to go, a simple but profound change.
For hosts, it means having access to Apple Genius Bar-style support as they ease their way onto the platform for the first time. That effort helped the company add more than 900,000 new listings to the site last year.
Capital One similarly had a breakout year with its Venture X travel rewards card by focusing on the basics. It partnered with inventive travel-booking app Hopper to help it build a rewards-travel booking platform that people will actually want to use.
The company is now layering on luxurious extras for cardholders, including airport lounges with food from chef José Andrés and a collection of hotels where travellers get additional benefits.
Here are the top ten most innovative travel companies for 2023:
For redesigning its platform for the new era of travel
2. CAPITAL ONE
For designing a travel-rewards credit card program that’s user friendly
3. CANARY TECHNOLOGIES
For giving hotel guests mobile tools they’ll actually use
For removing the roadblocks to RV travel
5. DISCOVER PUERTO RICO
For creating an ad campaign that’s distinctly local
6. ATLAS OBSCURA
For telling conscientious travel stories across every medium
7. TAOS SKI VALLEY
For electrifying the ski industry
8. DELTA AIR LINES
For hyper-personalising airport way finding
For elevating home exchanges
For creating a modern travel agency
As Fast Company explains, anticipating what travellers want is also at the heart of RV rental marketplace Outdoorsy’s success. Founded in 2015, the company has spun the surge of interest in campers and RVs during the pandemic into US$2 billion worth of transactions, while also spinning out a lucrative RV insurance product. It’s proving that the RV boom is more than a pandemic fad.
Travel media company Atlas Obscura, meanwhile, has developed a deep well of content around unique and under-the-radar sites and destinations. As travellers’ appetites for this kind of content has grown, the company has given them more ways to consume it, from books and a hit podcast to small-group tours.
Puerto Rico has long been known for its enticing ad campaigns. But in 2022, the island’s destination marketing organization, Discover Puerto Rico, decided to eschew the traditional approach of showcasing beaches and resorts. Instead it channeled travelers’ growing desire for authenticity, even on a beach vacation.
Puerto Rico’s latest advertising campaign, Live Boricua, focuses on the island’s people and distinct culture. The campaign is inspired by the island’s original name, given by the indigenous Taínos who inhabited it well before the Spanish arrived.