STARTUP STAGE: Landng offers bookable travel itineraries from content creators

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Landng provides a database of customizable itineraries to help users discover, share
and activate travel plans curated by a community of creators,
travelers and brands. 

The company is launching in August and says it already has a wait list of 1,000-plus travelers, 60 creators with a
combined audience of 5 million on social media and 15 letters of intent signed
with brands and tourism boards.

What is your 30-second pitch to investors?

Landng is an online platform that turns travel inspiration into
trip plans. We help travelers take action on inspiration through social itineraries,
while helping creators monetize their travel content. What Spotify has done for
music discovery, we will do for travel discovery.

Location

Los Angeles and Paris

Describe both the business and technology aspects of your
startup.

Landng is a content discovery engine that gives you access to
thousands of itineraries and experiences from creators all over the world. Our
solution bridges the gap from content discovery to actionable itineraries
thanks to Landng’s global itinerary library and AI-powered personalized
recommendations. Our database of customizable itineraries allows users to
discover, share and activate itineraries on-the-go, curated by our community of
creators, travelers and brands. 

Our primary technical innovation is the “social itinerary.”
Allowing users to share itineraries via Landng’s online community and
personalize other users’ itineraries into their own is a new innovation in the
travel technology space for the consumer. The personalization of our itinerary
recommendations to users is powered by artificial intelligence and machine
learning. We’ve also introduced new marketing KPIs for travel creators and
brands for the itinerary content format including the Itinerary Save (engagement),
Itineraries Customized (deep engagement), Itineraries Activated (conversion/ traffic
to location – measuring how many people are going to the locations creators and
travel brands recommend).

Give us your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities,
Threats) analysis of the company.

  • Strength: We are aggregating the largest community of local
    micro-influencers in the world, leveraging machine learning and AI to power
    personalized itinerary recommendations, delivering a streamlined inspiration
    to booking process for travelers. We will be a timely technological tool to use
    instead of generic legacy solutions that solve a small portion of a complex
    problem that needs solving all at once.
  • Weaknesses: Early stage startup with limited funding to scale
    product. 
  • Opportunities: We see partnership opportunities with inspiration
    and local experience players including Google, Pinterest, TikTok, Meta and
    Airbnb. Travelers will pay a subscription fee for an elevated experience in
    Landng including a vetted exclusive library of quality itinerary content and
    ad-free experience. Brands and tourism boards will sponsor itineraries and
    activities on Landng as location-based native ads to reach their target
    audiences – a new form of experiential marketing. 
  • Threats: If bigger players (such as the ones we’re targeting for
    partnerships) were to adopt our technology and approach as their own. 

What are the travel pain points you are trying to alleviate from
both the customer and the industry perspective?

One in three travelers turn to social media for travel
inspiration. People are creating Pinterest boards and gathering TikTok saves.
But, unlike other content types, people cannot shop travel inspiration because
of its inherent complexity.

So you’ve got the product, now how will you get lots of
customers?

We have a wait list of 1,000-plus travelers, 60 creators with a
combined audience of 5 million on social media and 15 letters of intent signed
with brands and tourism boards. Landng is launching August 2023, and we will
slowly onboard our users and future customers. Our acquisition strategy: 

  • Word of mouth – creators and partners: We will use our network
    of creators and brand partners to drive the awareness and virality of their
    social itineraries. 
  • Paid: We will launch campaigns on TikTok and Instagram
    leveraging creator user-generated content and creator collaborations to drive
    sign-ups. 
  • SEO: We will optimize the search-ability of our homepage and
    aggregate itinerary content to rank highly for travel queries in key markets
    and all travel niches. 

Tell us what process you’ve gone through to establish a genuine
need for your company and the size of the addressable market.

We have analyzed market conditions:

  • Behavior: Nearly 1 in 3 travelers turn to social media for
    holiday inspiration; Gen Z and millennials travel more than any other group – five
    trips per year.
  • Cost: Low-cost of air travel is boosting the tourism industry. 
  • State of work: Remote work is giving people more flexibility to
    travel.
  • Post-COVID: With revenge travel on the rise, people are
    traveling more, and more often. 
  • AI: Advancements in large language models and artificial general intelligence will power solutions based on
    personal preference. 
  • Validation: We have conducted hundreds of discovery sessions
    across our user and customer segments (travelers, creators and brands/
    businesses) and completed idea validation via a social media campaign on Instagram,
    Facebook and Pinterest while in our GAN incubator in 2022. Our wait list of travelers
    and creators and letters of intent also validates the need for Landng’s
    solution.

How and when will you make money?

  • Freemium: Travelers will pay a subscription fee for an elevated
    experience in Landng including a vetted exclusive library of quality itinerary
    content and ad-free experience. 
  • Advertising: Brands and tourism boards will sponsor itineraries
    and activities on Landng as location-based native ads to reach their target
    audiences – a new form of experiential marketing.
  • Our plan for early revenue 2023-2025: Paid pilots for sponsored posts with
    travel brands (e.g. Accor hotel in Paris itinerary promoted in all Paris
    related searches). Also paid brand/ hotel/ tourism board collaborations for
    content and influencer marketing (e.g. Visit California itinerary
    collaborations with Landng country pages for optimized promotion, and
    creator/influencer content and collaboration strategy + execution).
  • Confirmed pilots: Content partners include UNESCO, Hawai’i
    Tourism Authority and HomeExchange; Pilot Ad Customers include Orient Express,
    Clase Azul, Accor and Club Med. 
  • Strategic advisers (supporting customer acquisition): Meta, Air
    France, Accor, Omnicom, Google, Microsoft. 

What are the backgrounds and previous achievements of the
founding team?

Devon Keakulina DeAngelo (CEO) is a digital content and
community strategist with 11-plus years of experience in social media
management for global brands and agencies and a deep understanding of Pacific,
North American and EU markets. Nacera Belal (COO) is a product manager with
11-plus years of experience across startups, agencies and fortune 500
corporations with a masters in international management specializing in
sustainability systems. 

How have you addressed diversity and inclusion within your
business?

The founding team are both diverse female founders (Native
Hawaiian, Korean and Algerian). We also uphold our company pillars of
diversity, privacy, accessibility, socio-cultural sustainability, environmental
sustainability and well-being ethics through everything we do. We work with partners to share content that travelers can use to learn about
each of these objectives and inspire their travel plans. Our current
partnerships include UNESCO, Hawai’i Visitors and Convention Bureau – in
partnership with the Hawai’i Tourism Authority, and Willeasy (a travel
accessibility API platform). 

Our owned content strategy champions the social and economic sustainability of
local communities and partners with diverse cultural advocates and authorities
to share knowledge with travelers about the cultures they’re visiting before
they take the trip. One of our focuses is to help people through cultural
education, while also encouraging empathy, curiosity and openness to their
exploration through our community guidelines, enabling travelers to show up as
their best selves in their host community. To action this pre-MVP launch, we
also partnered with Logictry, in partnership with the U.N. and World Logic Day,
helping people learn “how to be a conscious traveler,” focusing on
environmental and social sustainability for travelers. 

What’s been the most difficult part of founding the business so
far?

Our biggest challenge has been raising capital as we’ve had no
opt-in from traditional investors. We’ve raised just enough through friends and
family to build our MVP and get to market ($220,000), a bridge investment from
an accredited angel investor ($200,000) and have significant traction for our
early stage (including being a shortlisted startup at Web Summit 2022), but
will require additional funding to iterate in product development to scale our
solution.

Generally, travel startups face a fairly tough time making an
impact – so why are you going to be one of lucky ones?

We don’t view ourselves as solely a travel startup. We are a
media company that’s innovating for travelers, creators and travel brands in a
way that has not been done before. A lot of travel startups fail because of
their revenue play – they focus on charging the consumer too early or rely on
affiliates. We will be working with travel brands and tourism boards via
advertising, relying on neither the consumer or affiliates to generate early
stage revenue, allowing us to invest in scaling our solution for the traveler
without charging the traveler for this service or requiring affiliate revenue
to support it. No other player is doing this and we believe this is how we will
win. 

A year from now, what state do you think your startup will be
in?

We will be revenue generating with 30,000 users and growing. We
will have completed pilots for the Sponsored Itinerary location based ad format
with five brand and tourism board partners, validating our product and shifting
into larger annual budgets to reach travelers summer 2024. 

What is your end-game (going public,
acquisition, growing and staying private, etc.)?

We plan to be acquired by a strategic industry
player within the next five years. We estimate our valuation will be at least
$100 million at the time of acquisition resulting in a 10x return for our investors
in our pre-seed round launching September 2023.

PhocusWire’s Startup Stage

PhocusWire profiles startups in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry.

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