Special World Tourism Day: British startups making a difference on the travel scene

On this World Tourism Day, let’s celebrate the startups that have given a boost to UK tourism by making travel hassle-free and affordable and encouraging Brits to travel to their own country.

We bring you an eclectic mix of travel startups that have emerged after the pandemic to cover a range of basics, no-flight vacations, rental apartments for corporate workers in the hybrid era as well as reducing the minimum carbon footprint.


Founded: 2017

Names of the founders: Ben Stephenson and Charlie Cowley

Headquarters: London

Funding raised: $ 32.9 million

Connect hotels to companies that want to sell hotel rooms and create new customer experiences, Impala Eliminates costly integrations and long negotiation cycles for corporate travel agencies and tour operators so businesses can focus on customer experiences.

“One thing is clear as the travel market begins to recover, and it is proving difficult for hotels and room sellers, is that we can no longer rely on typical predictable guest behaviors. Anxiety over restrictions, changes in vacationing habits and working remotely are some of the things that lead to shorter booking windows and shifts in destination trends, ”said Ben Stephenson, Founder of ‘Impala.

In this unpredictable world, properties need to be able to quickly adapt their distribution strategy – and room sellers are looking for an offer that gives guests what they want. “This is why the startup created Contracting by Impala, to simplify and considerably speed up the process of signing new agreements and putting properties up for sale. With Contracting by Impala, sellers and properties can request, manage and review contracts in one simple dashboard. Accepting new offers only takes a few clicks, so you can put a property up for sale in just a few days. And when it comes to revising contracts, you can see all your existing agreements at a glance and easily accept any changes, ”he added.

travelling abroad

Founded: 2018

Name of the founder: Alexa-Maria Rathbone Barker

Headquarters: London

Funding raised: £ 1m

The startup has unveiled a virtual family travel assistant and an AI-powered travel platform to revolutionize the way families book vacations to help families book travel in the post-Covid world,

“As a travel startup during Covid, we knew we had to pivot our approach to selling vacation accommodation to supporting parents in our community during these difficult times. To do this, during the pandemic, we created virtual activity pack resources for elementary school children. These were designed to keep children occupied during long days of confinement and to help children dream of a world beyond their own four walls. Thousands of children across the UK have downloaded these resources and the feedback from parents has been phenomenal, ”said Alexa-Maria Rathbone Barker, CEO and Founder, travelling abroad.

As lockdowns eased and travel resumed, the company smoothly entered the UK market and quickly had clients staying daily at tripAbrood properties first in the UK , then as markets opened up, abroad as well.

“We’ve had so much positive feedback on our Lockdown Country Activity Packs that we have decided to make it a central part of our brand going forward, by developing ‘Arrive Like a Local’ Activity Packs. for reserved destinations, helping children explore the destinations they are. visit and arrive like a local. These resources are free to anyone who book on the platform and we have had kids who have visited places like York and become mini-historians in their own right! We look forward to helping more families across the UK to start traveling again and experiencing the culture as a whole family, ”she added.

By the road

Founded: 2020

Founder: Cat Jones

Headquarters: London

Funding raised: £ 1.1m

Building a new kind of vacation focused on slowing travel, personalizing the experience and reducing the carbon footprint, “world first” no-fly vacations Platform introduces sustainable leisure travel to the general public.

It has certainly been the summer of slow travel! We sent six times as many people on a slow vacation in September than when the lockdown was lifted in April and added seven new members to the team (we still have three positions open). Our dynamic packaging technology now allows us to automatically plan and book hop-on hop-off train / boat / bus trips based on customer preferences across the UK, and with European travel booming we have recently added cross-Channel ferry connections as a Eurostar alternative for those traveling with pets. Our all-new in-house editor allows our Customer Experience team to interact with our technology to fully personalize trips based on their WhatsApp / phone / email conversations with customers, ”said Cat Jones, founder of Byway.

Love house swap

Founded: 2011

Founder: Debbie Wosskow

Headquarters: London

Now owned by Travel + Leisure Co, as a listed company in the United States that purchased the Start In 2017, Love Home Swap, the award-winning, member-only global home exchange platform, empowers travelers to explore the world through the power of sharing. From city districts to castles, the site features thousands of stunning homes in 100 countries around the world. Founded in the UK in 2011, it was inspired by the movie “The Holiday”. By helping members exchange properties for 10 years, the service provides authentic, quirky and unique vacation accommodations for travel enthusiasts looking for a place to truly write home.

“Traveling in today’s climate obviously comes with its own challenges, but at Love Home Swap we have put in place a few measures to make home swapping easier and safer for our members. At the very beginning of the pandemic, we offered our community the option of freezing their subscriptions, so that they could resume traveling when they felt confident to do so. We also offered new members a “Exchange Guarantee” in which they had a free second year of membership if they were unable to arrange a home exchange in their first year with us. Quite simply, we want everyone to share our opinion that home swap is the most cost effective and desirable way to travel, ”said Célia Pronto, Managing Director of Love Home Swap..

As the world continues to reopen, the company has been delighted to see so many conversations among its members, with many planning vacations for this year and long-distance travel for next year. “We are playing our part to ensure safe travel against Covid by encouraging our members to adhere to our improved cleaning guidelines, and we are making it easier than ever for our community to organize house swaps,” she added.

The startup has also improved its “response rates” so members know how quickly someone is likely to accept their trade-in request, while introducing a new online records system – so that home-based exchangers can easily track the messages they send and receive – and they’ve offered new members free points (which is their virtual currency) to encourage them to plan a break.


Founded: 2018

Names of the founders: Vivi Cahyadi Himmel (CEO) and Karolina Saviova (COO)

Headquarters: London

Modular furnished accommodation specialist offers cloud-based and due diligence-compliant accommodation, including private and serviced apartments, villas and houses around the world.

“Software that streamlines customer experience and operations has become extremely essential this year (during the pandemic) to meet not only heightened health, safety and security standards, but also labor shortages. ‘artwork. Innovations that include smart locks, automated guest filtering, smart thermostats, noise monitoring, housekeeping and maintenance, enable hospitality industries to operate more efficiently and enable their staff to provide higher labor value, effectively eliminating manual labor, ”said Vivi Cahyadi Himmel. , CEO and co-founder, AltoVita.


Founded: 2014

Names of the founders: Raj Patel and Elena Lopez

Headquarters: London

Funding raised: £ 450K

London-based travel tech Start offers affordable, self-catering city center stays during the summer months using vacant high-end student accommodation.

“After Covid, we can see strong demand from families and other groups for good quality multi-bedroom apartments in downtown locations and we have partnered with high-end student housing operators, including rooms are often vacant during the peak summer period, to rent rooms to tourists. The size of the apartments goes up to 8 beds – all with en-suite bathrooms – so very rare to find elsewhere, ”said Raj Patel, founder of Zeni.


Founded: 2019

Names of the founders: Jay Olenicz, Henry Popiolek, Dustin Silk

Headquarters: London

Funding raised: £ 0.5m

The last minute booking application for staycations in the UK, it’s a bit like a mix between Airbnb and Lastminute.com.

“As COVID and lockdown restrictions end, Staze will focus on reducing the environmental impact of business travel. We will achieve this not only by offsetting any carbon impact, but by having a net negative and positive impact on the environment per trip booked through our platform. The travel industry has historically had a negative impact on the environment and we are committed to reversing this trend, ”said Jay Olenicz, Founder of Staze.

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