When you think of the travel industry, words like “convenience,” “speed,” and “transparency” probably aren’t the first that come to mind. Perhaps your memory wanders to a TSA agent testing your emotional stability, a thrilling day spent in a rental car lobby, or forking out extra dough for service fees and taxes you didn’t even know were a thing. Luckily, problem-solving entrepreneurs are leveraging technology to revolutionize the travel industry (think: Airbnb, Hipmunk, and even Uber), and as we enter the Memorial to Labor Day travel season, our radar is set on anything that makes the process painless, especially solutions born here in the South.
So whether you’re booking a relaxing getaway, a family vacation, or a business trip this summer, get to know these 11 Southern startups taking the headache out of your travel experience.
- Wish you could travel fo’ free (or close to it)? Raleigh,NC-based Reward Stock shows users the best way to travel on points or miles instead of cash. The company provides travelers with rewards program valuations and uses automation and algorithm-based rewards management to automatically populate and update reward balances.
- Say goodbye to checking multiple travel sites and printing pages and pages of trip info. Dallas startup Traxo has developed itinerary management and loyalty tracking technology to help both business and leisure travelers access a master itinerary of upcoming trips, track points and miles, gather travel advice from friends, and access a digital “passport” of past travel. They’ve raised over $6M since starting in 2012.
- Atlanta-based rented. helps vacation rental homeowners book all of their rental weeks at the best possible price, without actually having to manage the bookings. Users create a listing, wait for a bid from a certified property manager, and choose to receive a fixed management rate each month or a competitive commission-based rate.
- Papilia is a Raleigh-based startup that takes the hassle out of packing and trip planning. The site provides travelers with a personalized itinerary, including a packing list, pertinent culture information, unique experiences, shopping advice, and links for where to buy recommended travel wares.
- Washington, DC startup (and TechStars accelerator grad) PoshPacker is for the stylish traveler on a budget. Using human curation and algorithms, the booking platform provides users with a curated selection of the world’s chic yet affordable travel accommodations. The site currently has over 1500 properties in 460 cities and 60 countries.
- Based in Arlington, VA, Airside Mobile has developed an app called Mobile Passport, which lets you skip the customs line at US airports (everybody say “Hallelujah!!”). Users fill out a profile, answer Custom and Border Patrol questions, and head to the “Mobile Passport Control” express lane at the airport. The app is currently available at the Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, Seattle, and San Francisco airports, with a commitment from the White House to roll it out at the top 20 international airports in the US.
- Chattanooga, TN-based RootsRated is for the outdoorsy traveler. The platform connects people with original content about the best outdoor experiences, curated by outdoor retailers and their networks of local experts, and organized by geography and sport. The startup has raised $2.5M since launching in 2014 and features content from major outdoor industry brands.
- Taking to the seas this summer? Cruise.me is a Boca Raton, FL startup that makes the cruise booking process easier and more customized. Users can flag cruise criteria based on destination, ship, port, or cruise line, and Cruise.me will share only results that include that specific feature. The site was featured on Product Hunt, TechCrunch, and NY Times last year.
- During his tenure at Priceline, Jay Walker realized business travel lacks the flexibility and savings opportunities of leisure travel. His DC-based startup, Upside, is currently in beta and seeks to revolutionize business travel in three simple steps. Users purchase a trip, cut down on company spending, and earn up to hundreds of dollars in free gift cards to their favorite businesses.
- Austin-based WaveCation is like Airbnb for surfers. Users create a listing for their surf or beach property, and surfers are then able to find the best hotels and vacation rentals to shred the gnar at surf breaks around the world. Tan not included.
- If you’ve traveled internationally, you know the headache of figuring out how to stay in touch without racking up huge cell phone bills. Miami-founded YouRoam (now based in Austin) is a mobile app that allows globetrotting travelers to make and receive calls using their personal cell number anywhere in the world over WiFi/3G. The startup participated in Austin’s Capital Factory accelerator and was a 2015 SXSW V2Venture Finalist.So there you have it! No matter where your next journey takes you, we hope these Southern innovations make the process smooth sailin’!