In a world of rapid innovation and disruption, travel entrepreneurs are leading the way in creating new business models that are changing the way we think about tourism. From ride-sharing apps to innovative accommodations, these entrepreneurs have become some of the most influential figures in the industry.
Here are ten travel entrepreneurs to watch in 2023.
Shaon Talukder, Geotourist
Geotourist has been described as "The YouTube of Travel" and CEO Shaon Talukder is set to become one of travel's most influential people - tipped as a "Travel Industry Disruptor" by leading accelerator TechNation, and earning a World Responsible Tourism Award for helping "Destinations Build Back Better Post-Covid" at World Travel Market by arming organizations with powerful data.
With leadership roles including Tourism Management Institute, Tourism Society, The World Travel and Tourism Council, & The Male Allyship Group, Shaon is a change-maker leading a diverse, multi-award-winning team that spans the globe.
Together, they embarked on the challenge of preserving stories of people and places in location, forever – mixing reality with immersive human-centered content.
Today, Geotourist has evolved from a global talking map into a tourism data specialist, helping organizations to enhance visitor experiences and simplify & harness data from a fragmented and murky landscape to prevent financial loss in daily operations and marketing.
Daniel Levine, Blue Ribbon Bags
Daniel Levine, President and Co-Founder of Blue Ribbon Bags (BRB), initially worked in the diamond and jewellery industry. After a luggage nightmare led him to show up to a meeting in shorts and a t-shirt, Delayed Luggage Protection was born.
Almost 15 years later, BRB is the world's leader in tracking and expediting lost luggage and is sold in 110 countries to nearly 5 million people monthly across distribution channels such as Airlines, Online Travel Agencies, Travel Management Companies, Credit Cards, and now Telecommunication companies. Levine leads Global Business Development for the burgeoning ancillary service that boasts 48 patents for its bag tracking system.
After the recent acquisition of Eddy AI, a technology company specializing in artificial intelligence, Levine's new venture called TripAdd is utilizing machine learning to create personalized bundles of ancillary services. TripAdd is set to launch in March 2023 as hundreds of popular travel service providers, including tours & activities, lounge pass providers, and e-visa companies, have already been onboarded as vendors.
Shanna Dickerson, Blue Sky Luxury Travels
Shanna Dickerson is the founder and CEO of Blue Sky Luxury Travels, a boutique full-service ultra luxury travel agency specializing in creating custom experiences for high net worth individuals and corporations since 2010. Their catalogue includes the world's top private islands, yacht charters, private jets, and villas. With her unrivaled industry knowledge, top-notch customer service, and commitment to excellence, she has established herself as one of the premier ultra luxury travel professionals. Her focus on personalization and attention to detail allow her clients to enjoy stress-free journeys tailored to their needs. Shanna can help bring your dream vacation, destination wedding or corporate retreat to life, no matter where you are planning to go. She loves assisting people in exploring the world and making unforgettable memories. When you book through her company you are also contributing to saving animals as a portion of her profits go towards a non-profit she created in 2019 called Blue Sky Relief Foundation.
Luca Lucchesini, Vestae Consulting
Born with an innate flair for hospitality, Luca Lucchesini, Founder & CEO of Vestae Consulting, has spent his entire life developing his craft. He's traveled far and wide, breathing new life into some of the most prestigious hotel brands globally.
Now, backed by a team of distinguished professionals within the hospitality industry, Vestae Consulting is poised to offer bespoke business plans catered to your needs. They specialize in maximizing the potential of existing structures and supporting emerging projects to reach optimal operational, financial, and sales performance.
Drawing upon extensive experience with iconic brands such as Rosewood, Four Seasons, and Hyatt, Vestae Consulting delivers personalized and adaptive solutions tailored to each client's vision. Their keen eye benefits hotel owners and management and respectfully enhances their surrounding environment.
Raise the bar for luxury hospitality with the unrivaled expertise of Vestae Consulting.
From operations to marketing, from financial analysis to quality control, they represent an added value on which to build, together, a long-lasting success over time.
Brian Chesky, Airbnb
Brian Chesky is the co-founder and CEO of Airbnb, one of the world's leading home-sharing platforms. He has been a driving force behind the company's success since its inception in 2008, growing it from a small startup into a global leader with over 150 million users. He has pioneered unique business models and creative solutions that have revolutionized the travel industry. With an eye for detail and an unwavering commitment to innovation, Brian is one of the leading entrepreneurs in today's digital era. His passion for building extraordinary experiences has inspired many aspiring entrepreneurs and continues to drive Airbnb to new heights.
Alida Paljevic, Vagabonda Travel
Alida Paljevic started Vagabonda Travel in January 2022 leveraging her industry expertise and social media exposure. These two ingredients led to the exponential growth of her business.
Paljevic started her travel industry career 25 years ago in Croatia. From entry-level positions, and advancing gradually into management roles. This career path led Paljevic to move from Croatia to Florida in 2016, for a position she held until the Pandemic.
The Pandemic was the turning point, says Paljevic, "I realized I could no longer work for corporations, I needed to speak my truth without complying with some corporate strategy... I was burning inside to share my views and opinions on travel uncensored. TikTok placed my videos right in front of people who share my views, and that's how it all started."
A year later, Paljevic is hiring talent and scaling Vagabonda Travel to become a boutique tour operator providing travelers a high-quality service and unforgettable, slower-paced travel arrangements.
Thom Dunaway, Where To Stay
As one of the first business owners to break into the digital travel industry, Thom Dunaway and his wife Shawna have earned the reputation of luxury Caribbean villa experts. After falling in love and marrying in St. John, the two founded WhereToStay in 1995 as a Caribbean hotel travel guide.
Thom & Shawna's goal to "turn hotel lookers into villa bookers" inspired them to specialize in private villas, and their agency has since been listed in National Geographic Traveler's, "5 Best Travel Websites" and Forbes' "Best of the Web."
As villa renters, they know other travelers fall in love with private villas' exclusivity, safety, and comfort. Thom and Shawna have recently become part of Viadi Group, and this partnership will allow WhereToStay to expand into new destinations worldwide. From the Caribbean to Italy to Greece, WhereToStay is the brand to watch for luxury villa rentals.
Resha Shroff, Lynx Automation
Resha Shroff had humble beginnings in India from an entrepreneurial family. After completing engineering, she worked with 3 of the top 5 IT and R&D companies. Her passion for technology and product innovation supercharged her career, and being the only woman leader in the room never slowed her down. She also has a real estate portfolio and extensive property operations experience.
Resha's experience in technology, real estate, and hospitality led to the innovation of property automation software, Lynx. Resha is the CEO and Co-founder of Lynx, a hospitality automation and guest experience platform. Lynx allows hoteliers and vacation rental managers to enhance the guest's digital experience through contactless check-in, branded guest app and boost revenue through upsells. Under Resha's leadership, Lynx Automation has been featured as #8 on Inc. 5000 fastest-growing company in Travel and Hospitality in 2022 and powers properties in 350 cities and five countries.
Shawn Tarter, RealTime Reservation LLC
Shawn Tarter is President & Founder of RealTime Reservation, an organization that provides real-time inventory management reservation software that drives ancillary revenues for the hospitality/travel industry. In addition, the platform automates tasks which allows for guests to customize their experiences and alleviates the short staffing challenges. RealTime Reservation diligently works with hotels, supporting their revenue management processes, yielding rates and identifying new sources of revenues.
Shawn recognized opportunities at many properties and was eager to give the hotels ways to improve the customer experience and drive revenue while providing services that support client satisfaction and loyalty.
In 2015, Shawn founded Ipalapa Corporation, which was rebranded to RealTime Reservation. In three short years since the rebrand, the company has experienced significant sales and revenue growth, despite operating during a global pandemic. Today, the company employs fifty professionals in development, R&D, client services, administration, sales, and marketing and boasts over five hundred clients.
Amit Patel, Xclusive Yachts
Amit Patel is the Founder and Managing Director of Xclusive Yachts, the leading yacht company in Dubai that specializes in luxury yacht charters.
Xclusive Yachts is the only charter company to own its fleet of over 70 boats, yachts, and two superyachts. Setting industry benchmarks and standards makes it the pioneer in yacht charter in Dubai. With over 20 years of experience, Amit has been one of the most sought-after names in this arena for quite some time. Originally from London, and relocated to Dubai to begin his journey. With an eye for detail and uncompromising dedication to quality, Amit quickly built a reputation as the first and best yacht service provider in the gulf.
Over the years, he has built a dedicated team of 300 professionals across the globe with a collective work experience of 100-plus years. Every year, Xclusive Yachts successfully puts over 1 million people on the water, and they take with them an unforgettable experience for a lifetime. His services are sought after by high-profile clients such as celebrities, royalty, and politicians. From providing first-class service on board vessels to organizing bespoke experiences ashore - Amit strives to ensure that all his customers have extraordinary trips they will never forget.
As technology advances and the world of travel continues to evolve, it is clear that these innovators will be at the forefront of this exciting field. By keeping an eye on these impressive entrepreneurs, you can gain insights into what's next for the future of travel.