STARTUP STAGE: Jubel combines high-tech and high-touch trip…


Startup Stage Jubel

Jubel

Jubel combines artificial intelligence and travel
specialists to create customized proposals – including destinations, hotels and
transportation – based on clients’ personal preferences and styles.

A friendship and mutual passion for travel prompted founders
Juan Pablo Toscano and Nicolas Bergengruen to develop Jubel while they were
both working in Miami after college.

Describe both the business and technology aspects of your
startup.

Jubel’s mission is to help eliminate the stress and time
involved in planning and booking experiential travel by seamlessly customizing
trips to their customer’s preferences and budgets.

Backed by efficient trip-planning software and a proprietary database of nearly 1,000 destinations,
Jubel’s technology allows the company to quickly match clients with potentially
ideal trips.

The company’s algorithm and artificial intelligence will score
hundreds of thousands of potential itineraries and select the best options
according to indicated consumer preferences and provide their users with a
platform where they can further customize and book their travel package.

What we’re doing, at the core, is helping to remove the
divide between hiring an expensive luxury travel advisor and the frustration of
having to spend considerable time searching the web yourself to plan and
eventually book directly through platforms like Expedia, Booking.com or
Airbnb.

We’re building something that will simplify what should be an enjoyable
experience – finding the perfect vacation – by democratizing the knowledge and
personalization services of travel advisors all within one tab on your
computer; and then will allow you to book flights, accommodations and
activities from the same trusted affiliate partners (Expedia, Booking.com or Airbnb).

Facebook

www.facebook.com/jubel.world

Instagram

www.instagram.com/jubel.co

Twitter

www.twitter.com/jubel_co

What inspired you to create this company?

We are seasoned travelers and have experienced first-hand
the struggle of trying to piece together a unique trip from thousands of
options, navigating unreliable information and being subject to price fluctuations
during the long planning process.

After hours of research we would turn to
travel agencies for help, only to be shocked at the starting prices. Planning
an amazing one‐of‐a‐kind trip then felt like an unnecessarily frustrating
exercise.

Planning transformative travel experiences shouldn’t be that
complicated. We envisioned a service that makes planning inspiring trips easy
for everyone. We firmly believe that travel changes lives and want to make it
accessible to as many people as possible.

Give us your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities,
Threats) analysis of the company.

  • Strengths: There
    are four categories of companies competing in our space, which is the top of
    the “research-to-book funnel.” Here is how we compete with each:

    • Established players – Travel Advisors – High starting prices of around $4,500 per person. “Old-School” model
      high in friction with: consultation calls, heavy back-and-forth, hundreds of
      emails, no price transparency, the risk of upselling to suppliers that pay
      higher commissions. Jubel, on the other hand, serves the modern traveler with
      no budget minimums, price transparency, an immediate on-demand solution, lower
      planning fees and no upselling. 
      Packaged Tours – Fixed tours with no customization. The lack of personalization is
      a compromise that customers tolerate because they cannot afford a luxury
      advisor and they don’t want to go through the trouble of planning themselves.
      Jubel’s 100% customizable platform easily puts us on top. 
    • Startups – Local Travel Agent Marketplaces (Evaneos, Tourlane): This solution carries the
      same frictions of luxury travel agents. Additionally, it carries marketplace
      fees, and since their agents only specialize in their respective countries,
      this also adds the drawbacks of not being able to compare countries or plan
      multi-national trips and having to work with a new agent for every new country
      visited. Jubel’s solution removes all these frictions too with no marketplace
      fees, a consistent user experience and the ability to compare countries and
      plan multi-national trips.
      One-Click Software Planners (Pickyourtrail, Inspirock and Noken): These
      companies have failed to perform on the one thing travelers care most about
      when planning experiential travel – flexibility, and personalization to ensure
      an ideal trip. Compared to Jubel, they compromise personalization to provide
      bookable tours with a few clicks, which is not something customers want because
      trips are not impulse purchases. These instant trip itineraries leave customers
      uncertain of whether their itinerary is right for them and don’t trust the
      results. Jubel, on the other hand, prioritizes personalization with visibility
      to alternatives, which is designed to leave our users confident that they’ve
      landed on their ideal trip even if it takes more than a few clicks to create.
  • Weaknesses: Once
    we have a much higher user base and our product becomes a prevailing means to
    planning a travel experience, being able to keep our “alternative” brand,
    which differentiates us today, will be a challenge to work through. Acquiring
    the benefits of scale means we can’t be married to our business model, we are
    married to best serve our customers. Our focus is on our well-defined core
    business and a commitment to building the systems and processes to support it –
    and so not losing our brand equity will be a key challenge we are mindful of. 
  • Opportunities: Little competition at the top of the research‐to‐book
    funnel; low cost of customer acquisition opportunity at the top of the funnel.

    Consumer interest in experiential and adventure travel is on
    the rise due in part to consumers strong desire for new travel experiences.
    However, consumers that are interested in booking these types of trips
    themselves are presented with a high, and oftentimes overwhelming, number of
    choices.

    In the 45 days prior to booking a trip, American consumers make an
    average of 140 visits to travel sites. On these travel sites, they spend an
    average of 23 total hours researching their trip before booking. To help
    address pain points and desires for new travel experiences, many consumers are
    seeking out more personalized travel recommendations. In fact, approximately
    36% of them would be more likely to pay for the services of a travel brand that
    tailored its information and overall trip experience based on personal
    preferences or past behavior. Further, one in three travelers are interested in
    using digital assistants to research and/or book travel.

  • Threats: Google
    using their wealth of data and deciding to build a personalized platform that
    helps people that don’t necessarily know what they want or are looking for,
    rather than acquiring someone with the infrastructure already built. If they
    decide to do that soon, to build out an intuitive, fully personalized
    multi-destination trip-planning tool then surely that has the potential to be
    very powerful.

What are the travel pain points you are trying to alleviate
from both the customer and the industry perspective?

Planning experiential travel is overwhelming.

  1. Travelers
    now want to have more meaningful multi‐destination travel experiences
  2. They
    struggle with choice overload
  3. Unreliable web information
  4. And not knowing
    the trips with best value
  5. Today, it takes an average of 30+ hours and four
    months to plan

Travelers value independence and authenticity in their
adventures, now more than ever, and want to take more meaningful,
multi‐destination trips while also desiring hyper‐personalized travel
experiences.

The convergence of the mass digitalization of supplier inventory
and advancements in artificial intelligence, now makes it possible to match the
services of elite travel agencies at a fraction of the cost.

So you’ve got the product, now how will you get lots of
customers?

For 2018 so far we’ve achieved roughly $400,000 in revenues
with 75% of our sales coming from SEO and referrals. We are confident that SEO
will remain as the principal channel for acquisitions moving forward.

We’ve already achieved first page ranking on Google for the
following searches:

  • Company that plans trip for you
  • Website that plans trip for you
  • Site that plans trip for you
  • Company that plans your vacation
  • Company that plans your vacation for you
  • Companies that plan your vacation
  • Plan my travel experience
  • Trips planned for you

What is exciting to us here is that in all of these search
results, we are the only global and 100% personalizing trip planning company on
the first page.

On top of this, due to our branding and our popular surprise
trip feature (for which we also rank on the first page of Google with several
variations of the search for “surprise” or “mystery” trips), we think we can
continue to acquire customers and users through social media and expand on this
strategy with influencer marketing and video content – which is something we
have already begun to implement extensively (check our website!).

Tell us what process you’ve gone through to establish a
genuine need for your company and the size of the addressable market.

Through the beginning of October 2018, approximately 29% of
users that had previously booked a trip through Jubel, repurchased a trip
within 12 months, and 96% of customers recommend us – which are encouraging
numbers for our product stickiness.

We’ve established a need by providing a user experience that
is faster than dealing with online travel agencies by providing optimized itineraries much
quicker, by charging less than the high price tag that comes with working with
the OTAs and by having a more fun user experience than DIY or dealing with
these OTAs.

Travel and tourism is one of the world’s largest economic
sectors. The total contribution of travel and tourism to GDP was over $8.27 trillion in 2017 and is expected to grow to more than
$8.60 trillion in 2018. By 2028, this number is expected to rise to over $12.45
trillion.

Experiential travel, which is defined as a form of tourism
where people focus on experiencing a country, city or particular place by
connecting to its history, people and culture has garnered interest from
multiple demographics.

Approximately 57% of respondents to an American Express
Travel survey indicated they seek to interact with locals when traveling. About
57% of respondents to this survey said that exploring a new destination was
their most important travel goal for 2018.

The adventure tourism market is
currently estimated at roughly $445 billion and is expected to grow to over
$1.3 trillion by 2023.

How and when will you make money?

Jubel generates revenue from client service fees and
supplier commissions.

  • Client service fees: The company charges clients a service
    fee for booking through the platform, which averages 18% on top of the retail
    cost of the trip. As of September 2018, the average trip cost on Jubel’s
    platform was $4,840.
  • Supplier commissions: After providing users with their
    personalized trip, Jubel on average collects a 7% supplier commission fee
    directly or through affiliate booking platforms like Expedia, Viator and
    Booking.com that they use to book the trips.

What are the backgrounds and previous achievements of the
founding team, and why do you have what it takes to succeed with this business?

  • Jose Pablo Toscano (CEO): Previously an investor at J.P. Morgan where he built skills in data analysis, simulations, team-building and sales. In 2015 he traveled through several continents, building the know-how to operate in experiential travel. He graduated from Wharton with concentrations in finance and management.
  • Nicolas Bergengruen (CMBDO) – two years with Jubel: Previously supply and growth manager at Oasis, a travel tech startup and provider of global short-term rentals. Developed marketing and business development skills in an intense high-growth environment while increasing sales and B2B partnerships. Villanova School of Business graduate. 
  • Robert Lyons (CTO): Tech leader with 18+ years of software development experience and ability to pioneer platform technologies with architectural, design and full-cycle execution. Previously CTO and co-founder of two successful, data-driven health tech startups. Avid international traveler with a Ph.D. in economics from U.C. Berkeley.
  • Jenny Schröder (Head of Experiences): Barnard College of Columbia University graduate with a double major in international economics and Spanish. Previously worked as a travel specialist at Indagare, a premium luxury travel agency in New York, where she gained significant insight into the travel industry and developed her trip-planning, customer service and sales skills. She has traveled extensively worldwide and has lived in six different countries.

Our current team of nine (three engineers), all of whom have graduated from ivy league and top universities, has collectively accumulated years in marketing, branding, finance, operations, customer service, 30+ years in tech development and 15+ years in the travel industry.

Jubel’s CTO was the co-founder of two successful, data-driven health tech startups. We represent nine nationalities, we have lived and worked in 25 countries and we have traveled to over 80. 

What’s been the most difficult part of founding the business
so far?

Taking on the seemingly saturated yet burgeoning travel
market while investors have a knee‐jerk skepticism on startups in this space.

While our progression has allowed us build up travel
expertise with a hybrid tech/human model to effectively map out the development
of our new smart product – it was a tough road to get to organic growth in
order to now make the innovative “pivot” to a more scalable and ubiquitous
company.

Generally, travel startups face a fairly tough time making
an impact ‐ so why are you going to be one of lucky ones?

Our
growth and loyal customer base are indicators that we are doing something right
in our branding and our focus on truly making experiential travel accessible
and seamless. We know Jubel can be the product that attracts tons of users –
both non/well-traveled – and enough interest to make waves. 

The
market is ripe for disruption with regards to bespoke/curated travel. It is the
rave right now. And so especially at the trip-planning level (or trip
consideration phase) – the first company to make something everyone loves to
use and that is scalable will have a meaningful impact.

We
see a lot of travel startups out there that have some real neat ideas.
However, when it comes down to solving a real need as opposed to a
“nice to have– the majority miss that mark which whittles
down the pool.

From the get-go, we’ve set out to provide a seamless solution to
a pain point we’ve experienced first hand and that millions out there do. Our
diverse team of travel enthusiasts will do everything they can to get us there,
as we feel we are well on our way.

PhocusWire Startup Stage

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