From a macroeconomic perspective, the travel sector, representing $1.5 trillion dollars in annual economic output and 2.7% of the US GDP, is a foundational component of the modern, open economy.
The problem, however, is that the travel industry is fundamentally fractured across a host of intermediary parties and legacy services. More than just a terrible end-user experience, the airline ecosystem suffers from a number of gaping inefficiencies that drive costs upwards. Furthermore, the industry has failed to evolve for decades, lagging far behind the modern standard in operational competence.
SkyHi, an emerging startup receiving praise from consumers and enterprises alike, is aiming to bring a new level of convenience, spontaneity, and freedom to this space. Specifically, they are focused on streamlining the all-too-stressful process of purchasing airline tickets. While there are travelers who have tried to use different work around solutions, there is still no de facto, accessible measure that anyone can use to save money and time during the booking process.
This not only hurts the end user, but also the airlines, as coordination problems and empty seats represent low margins and missed opportunities for revenue. And, given the splintered nature of the independent players in this sector, it is unlikely we see any unified front coming from incumbents to solve for these problems any time soon.
Hence where SkyHi steps in, to resolve the issue by making it “radically simple for a largely overlooked demographic who are willing and able to travel spontaneously.” Their solution hinges on a monthly subscription model, that allows consumers to easily claim their seats on flights from all over the country for one low monthly price.
By paying for a monthly membership (and low additional fee for each incremental trip), consumers can fly to destinations up to 1500 miles from their current location. They work with a number of different airlines, such as “Delta, American Airlines, JetBlue, etc. as well as more low-cost carriers such as RyanAir, EasyJet, etc.” to provide a truly encompassing list of travel opportunities.
Flight bookings are one way only and users can only hold one ticket a time. Via their intuitive mobile app, members can easily see available flights within the upcoming week. There are no date searches or blackout days, whatever flight that is shown can easily be claimed and reserved. And, once a flight lands, travelers can see a bunch of different options as to where to go next. It is a seamless process that truly takes the pain out of open travel.
This model makes a ton of sense for people who value their time and flexibility. Creatives and young professionals – adventurers in our society- are largely the demographic for this product that provides the fun of travel without all of the worries.
Effectively, SkyHi is eradicating many of the biggest friction points in the travel cycle, enabling travelers to no longer worry and, rather, enjoy their voyage. The only decision they really have to make is choosing where to go, as SkyHi handles all of the backend sourcing and organization that no one really wants to deal with.
Given the rapid growth of the travel industry, as the world becomes a smaller and smaller place, it will be interesting to see just how SkyHi evolves and keeps up with inevitable demand.
There is obvious opportunity for horizontal and vertical expansion in this industry, disrupting the conventional model and giving the power back to the consumer. However, a nuance that many miss, and that SkyHi is capitalizing on well, is that nothing will happen without the cooperation of incumbent players. For any solution to reach global scale, it must benefit airlines, as they stand as the gatekeepers of travel. Luckily, there are tons of points of friction that we can use technology to solve for and enable a new generation of travel startups.