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The traveltech giant makes strides in supporting Asia-Pacific startups
Gone are the days of waiting to see travel agents and keeping track of a thousand small pieces of paper in order to travel. Now, it’s possible to get all the way from your home to the airplane with digital documents alone, and book all or most of an itinerary without ever interacting with another human. Yet, despite these advancements in ease and efficiency, why is travel still riddled with so many minor roadblocks and inconveniences?
To global traveltech company Amadeus, the industry is ripe for improvement. The company believes that the future of travel will be ‘frictionless’–that is, the fragmentation and tedium of certain aspects of travel will be eliminated to provide an experience of superlative speed, efficiency, and comfort.
In an ambitious bid to be the engineers of this future, Amadeus created an investment arm in 2014: Amadeus Ventures. In early 2020, Amadeus Ventures will be launching in the Asia-Pacific region, to bolster the company’s efforts in supporting startups on this side of the world.
Since its launch, Amadeus Ventures has worked with over 150 startups in the traveltech space, introducing them to the company’s business units and in some cases, engaging in special projects and joint ventures. This new foray into an unexplored sphere of traveltech investing is sure to add significantly to the company’s considerable portfolio.
One startup that Amadeus is working with to make travel smoother is EU-based Refundit, a digital Value-Added-Tax (VAT) refund claiming service. Users can snap photos of their receipts, boarding pass, and passport, complete an application for the refund, and have all of this digitally verified ahead of time rather than going through what is often a tedious, lengthy process at the airport.
Amadeus led a US$9.8 million funding round in November 2019 for Refundit, which is now running a pilot test of its solution in Belgium. While the solution was developed for EU countries like Spain and France, where tourists can recoup up to 21% of VAT, changing regulations in Southeast Asia make the company a scalable and global investment proposition. Thailand, for example, announced in October 2019 that VAT refunds for tourists are set to be hiked by over 100% (Bangkok Post).
Similarly, another portfolio company, CrowdVision, uses computer vision to streamline the flow of people in airports. This allows airports to optimize staff allocation and quickly alleviate unexpected bottlenecks, while also encouraging passengers to spend more time in the airport’s retail zones.
Amadeus Ventures offers funding as well as the company’s considerable industry expertise and network to any portfolio companies. The company has also provided a direct line for startups via an easy-to-fill form on its website, making them much more accessible and speeding them on their way to finding the best investment prospects.
“It’s a ripe market to be a startup in, and given the global scope of our business, we are on the search for business ideas and models that can be scaled across borders,” said Amadeus Ventures Head Suzanna Chiu in a November 2019 press announcement. “We’re looking forward to working closely with all types of startups across APAC and offering them access to our global network of customers and expertise to develop commercial relationships.”
This article was written in partnership with Amadeus Ventures.