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Aug 20, 2021

Top 10 Travel Startups to Watch in 2021

Samantha Shankman

Traveler ExperienceReturn to blog

While the travel industry has clearly gone through a disruptive 18 months, we’ve seen—time and again—that challenge is the precursor to innovation. We’ve been blown away by the scope of ingenuity that the pandemic sparked and are excited to see our peers continue to build new products and services.

As we head into fall and get back to business travel, we reflect on hundreds of conversations from the past year to understand which startups and peers are helping craft a completely new narrative for the travel industry.

Here are the 10 startups to watch in 2021.

1. TripActions

TripActions has eliminated the need for business travelers to file expense reports. Unlike traditional corporate travel solutions, TripActions is the only cloud-based, end-to-end global travel and expense management solution that includes online booking, 24/7/365 expert travel agent service, and spend management in a single global platform. More than 8,000 companies—including hundreds that have joined since the onset of COVID-19—recognize the mission-critical importance of working with a trusted T&E partner and have chosen TripActions.

2. Welcome

Welcome is the city curation app we need for 2021. The highly personalized city guide makes real-time recommendations based on each user's interests and prioritizes local businesses that capture the unique culture and spirit of a place. What’s truly impressive is the AI technology that runs Welcome—it mines and calculates data to make relevant recommendations based on weather, time, location, current events, and place details. Users can save or share their spots with their community. With business and leisure travel blending together more than ever, this is the perfect app to download before your next business trip, to ensure you truly experience a city between meetings.

3. Ukio

Ukio is on a mission to empower individuals to live where they want and move when they want—and this company’s timing couldn’t be better. Founded in 2020, Ukio is disrupting the traditional residential real estate market by providing stylish furnished and serviced apartments for stays of one month or more. Each apartment is designed for the business traveler who might be working remotely or in a new city for an extended stay. Apartments are currently available in Barcelona and Madrid, but the company has plans to expand throughout Europe. With remote work on the rise, Ukio makes it easy to try on a new city in style, without the usual long-term obligations.

4. Pachama

Pachama is an ambitious startup on a mission to restore nature and solve climate change. It does this by leveraging data, AI, and automation to protect ecosystems, restore forests, and improve carbon markets. Individuals and corporations are more conscious of the environmental effects of travel than ever before, which gives smart, data-backed services like Pachama an important role in ensuring that business takes the right steps toward sustainability.

5. Sherpa

Sherpa partners with airlines, cruise lines, and online travel agencies to provide secure solutions that help travelers understand and obtain the travel identification requirements they need in real-time. With the Sherpa integration on TripActions, for example, travelers can investigate the restrictions and documents necessary to travel from one country to another before ever booking a flight.

6. HiHello

HiHello is a digital business card and contact manager app designed to help business travelers’ networks grow. Users can easily create digital business cards, share their cards with anyone, manage their contacts, and even turn paper cards into digital contacts. As in-person events ramp up, this is a smart and safe way to share and save contact information on the go.

7. A Hotel Life

A Hotel Life is a pioneering travel platform that explores what it means to travel in a post-pandemic world. Founded by Ben Pundole, the former VP of Brand Experience at EDITION Hotels, AHL has celebrated travel and what makes hospitality unique, special, and beautiful throughout the pandemic. The platform pays special attention to the magic makers behind the properties we love with its podcast. And it recently started a jobs board to share new opportunities in the rebounding industry.

8. Sojrn

Sojrn is best described as a modern study abroad program for adults. Designed by the team behind For the Love of Travel, Sojrn curates month-long stays in foreign cities for remote workers. For a single price, participants receive housing, workspaces, included activities, and even a networking base. With remote work now a norm, we’re excited about the potential for these kinds of programs and how they can enrich the lives of those once corralled in an office or home workspace.

9. Troop

Troop aggregates thousands of data points to help meeting planners select event destinations based on objective intelligence rather than opinion. The platform bases destination selection on cost, travel time, ease of travel, visa requirements, carbon footprint, and security risk. This is a smart play with team travel on the rise. Of course, TripActions customers already have access to a similar but even more customizable platform with the new Team Travel feature.

10. CrowdVision

CrowdVision is a pedestrian analytics and insights company whose software shows what’s happening inside airports in real-time. With this data, the airport’s team can move or shift traffic to increase efficiency and profitability—in the moment and in the future—while improving their customers’ experience. We’re excited about this kind of technology, which helps build confidence that travel will come back stronger than ever.


Through its modern technology, TripActions increases traveler satisfaction and adoption, drives safety and compliance, and makes T&E programs more efficient and cost-effective. Finance and HR leaders gain invaluable insights with real-time data and control over spend. Request a demo.

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