by Adam Goldstein
The world of travel is dominated by huge corporations, and is notoriously hostile to new entrants. Companies are typically locked into multi-year, multi-million dollar deals with data suppliers, airlines, and hotels—many of which have been around for decades, and who have an rigid way of doing business.
The details of business development in travel were foreign to the founders of Hipmunk. But there were certain deals that just had to be struck in order to launch the site: flight data deals and commission arrangements, for example. So in the midst of writing the site’s code, the founders realized there would need to be some serious business development.
Adam Goldstein, an engineer by training, learned on the job how to get deals with major online travel agencies, international airlines, and hotel chains. This talk tells the story of how the first deals got done, and how the company’s process has evolved since. Startups—especially those started by technical founders—will enjoy laughing at the bizarre contortions that were necessary to succeed. Hopefully they will also learn some tips for negotiating with companies many times their startup’s size.
Adam Goldstein is the co-founder and CEO of Hipmunk, a travel search site based in San Francisco.
10th–13th October 2011