The companies on this year’s travel list are applying creativity to ease the pain points of travel, from Hoppers’s new flight-booking tool that lets you freeze the price of the airfare while you make up your mind to TripActions’ new corporate travel service that helps employees avoid carrying the costs of work trips on their personal cards. The top companies also deliver the joy of discovery: The TWA Hotel and Ennismore’s popular Hoxton brand both convey a strong sense of place; Modern Adventure taps tastemakers to introduce travelers to far-flung locales; and Hipcamp makes it easy to spend the night in a national park or forest. Ethical travel is a priority as well. In an industry first, tour company G Adventures is bringing supply chain transparency to travel by showing its customers exactly how much of their money stays in the local communities they visits.
For taking the decision fatigue out of travel
Known for creating a flight-booking tool that predicts airfares and alerts travelers to price drops, Hopper rolled out its similar hotel-booking tool to cover more than 620,000 properties across 2,500 cities. The company also launched a flight price-freeze option that lets users hold airfares (for a small deposit) before booking, and has committed to offsetting the carbon produced by every flight and hotel it sells.
Read more about why Hopper is one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies of 2020.
For creating a hotel experience distinct enough to drive direct bookings
Ennismore operates several hotel brands, the most noteworthy being Hoxton Hotels, which entered the U.S. market and greatly expanded from four to nine hotels from September 2018 to September 2019. The brand has breathed new life into the tired “lifestyle hotel” category thanks to its open-house concept. Initiatives include Hox Friends (introducing guests to local tastemakers), a locally inspired retail concept, and neighborhood cultural programming. Its initiatives appear to be working: The brand has averaged 90% occupancy across all of the hotels since opening, and the hotel’s website is its biggest booking channel.
For democratizing camping
This comprehensive booking site includes everything from public campgrounds to private ranches and farms across the U.S., helping to inspire all people to get outdoors and become stewards of the land. A recent partnership with Booz Allen Hamilton and Recreation.gov allows HipCamp to list real-time availability for national parks and forests for the first time.
4. G Adventures
For evaluating the economic impact on local people and business where it operates
G Adventures is a 29-year-old social enterprise and adventure tour operator that harnesses the power of vacation travel to spread wealth, empower women, conserve indigenous cultures, protect and train youth, and promote meaningful connections. In 2019, G Adventures took a step toward supply-chain transparency by offering a Ripple Score for each of its trips. The one to 100 rating, which was developed with input from U.S.-based nonprofit Sustainable Travel International, represents the percentage of local tour costs that remain in destination. Across G Adventures’ portfolio of 2,600 supply partners, the average Ripple Score is a 93 out of 100. That means 93% of the money spent within destinations and in connection to G Adventures’ tours stays with locally owned businesses.
For teaming up with JetBlue to open its public-charter flights to commercial fliers.
The hop-on jet company JSX (formerly JetSuiteX), which flies commercial flights out of private terminals, has been expanding its daily regional service to new West Coast destinations. It now flies out of Las Vegas, Burbank, Oakland, Seattle, and Phoenix, and will soon also serve Portland, Reno, and Monterey. A codeshare partnership with JetBlue means that JSX flights are bookable on both the company’s own website as well as any site that lists JetBlue routes.
6. Pittsburgh International Airport
For easing navigation for us all
This airport has become an ideas lab for concepts that make flying easier for people with disabilities. Powered by more than 600 Bluetooth beacons, its NavCog app helps blind and sight-impaired travelers navigate large indoor spaces, including the airport’s escalators and bathrooms. The airport also introduced Presley’s Place, a calming environment for travelers with sensory processing sensitivities, such as autism. Featuring private, soundproof spaces, the 1,500-square-foot area includes individual rooms with adjustable lighting and soothing activities for visitors to decompress before or after a flight.
7. MCR/Morse Development
For reimagining the airport hotel
MCR/Morse transformed the Trans World Airlines Flight Center, unused for decades, into JFK Airport’s TWA Hotel. It transports guests back to the 1960s thanks to vintage uniforms, a retro split-flap departures board, staff members armed with ’60s slang, and lobby decor that includes a 1962 Chrysler Newport and original pay phones. Rates are affordable—from $249 a night or $100 for the day—and (in a break with prevailing industry standard) reservations at the TWA Hotel are only available at twahotel.com. The TWA Hotel also has a pioneering short-term stay program, allowing guests to book rooms in stackable four-hour blocks.
For tracking a journey’s carbon footprint
TripActions has changed the way corporate travel is booked by creating intuitive tools that help employees navigate hotel and flight options and companies manage expenses. The startup is now moving into payments with the launch of a new TripActions Liquid service, which acts as a corporate card for companies that do not issue them to employees. TripActions also now provides companies data on the carbon impact of all of their corporate travel and will soon provide the opportunities for them to offset.
9. Modern Adventure
For making group travel cool with its tastemaker trips
Founded in 2017, the Portland-based Modern Adventures specializes in small group trips led by influencers and tastemakers, including chefs, winemakers, and artisans. The company also has a growing business works with brands to craft immersive trips for their customers that showcase the companies’ values and missions.
10. The Infatuation
For fostering a hungry community around its expanding portfolio of restaurant guides
Known for creating curated online restaurant guides to more than a dozen cities around the world and the annual food and music festival EEEEEATSCON, the Infatuation expanded its restaurant reviews empire last year with the relaunch of a Zagat guide to New York City in a print edition. More city guides are coming online this summer.
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