Who are the winners of the MIT Travel Start contest and who set the trends of the tourist market?

Learn more about MITT Travel Start 2023 contest winners and new trends in hotel and tour operator industry!

The MITT (Moscow International Travel and Tourism) International Travel and Hospitality show hosted the finals of MITT Travel Start 2023 contest of innovation projects. The contest is held annually and is supported by the Russian Union of Travel Industry (RUTI; Rus. RST) with assistance from the Travel Startups community. This initiative is aimed at digitalization of the travel industry and support of technologies and services helping with meeting the demands and the ever-increasing customer requirements, and development of domestic tourism and hospitality market.

100+ participants applied for the contest this year, and 10 travel startups made the finals in three categories — tour & activity segment, hotel room reservation, and hotel business. According to Valentina Miklyaeva, the CEO of the Bnovo service, seven of the 10 finalists presented individual strategies. “Along with ‘TravelTech’, we should probably incorporate ‘HotelTech’ into our vocabularies, as the interest in this specific niche is evident. We were really impressed by the Hotel.BI project, a dashboard system for managerial accounting of accommodation facilities”, the expert added.

Three projects made the finals in the tour & activity segment:

FunTam — event and entertainment aggregator featuring interactive maps with the geolocation search function.

TOR (by Technezis) — cloud service for management of own sales for tourism and hospitality industry.

CrossTravel — reservation channel manager.

In the hotel room reservation segment:

GetHotel — hotel reservation service where customers can set the accommodation prices by themselves.

Hebi Travel — multifunctional service assisting in management of outdoor recreation and tours to lesser-known destinations.

In the hotel business online services segment:

2ROOMZ — service facilitating sale of services and communication with hotel guests.

Avatar (by Sensemaking Lab) — virtual employee controlled by artificial intelligence or remote operator.

ConnectOne — system for self check-in at hotels. It is also used for online ordering of additional services.

HotelBI — BigData-based managerial accounting system for hotels, capable of analysing more than 300 performance indicators of a facility.

RoomSharing Norke — automated accommodation system, supporting smart locks.

The panel of judges of MITT Travel Start contest picked three winners:

• FunTam


• Avatar (Sensemaking Lab)

The winners received prizes from the contest’s partners (for instance, tickets to the largest startup conference in Russia and the CIS countries, the Startup Village by the Skolkovo Fund), and the opportunity to present their products and services at the future MITT 2024 Show.

Artem Chernyshov, MITT Event Director: “I would like to thank the event organizers and the judges who spent much time studying the projects and selecting the best ones. I would also like to congratulate the winners and finalists with the high scores they received from respected experts. Initially, MITT Travel Start was created as a way to support new projects. We will continue to apply our best efforts to give them opportunities for growth and development!”

The MITT Travel Start contest highlighted some key trends in the travel and hospitality industry:

  1. Increase in new IT solutions for hotel and travel business digitalization.

  2. Rapid increase in the number applications from startups developing products for hotel operators and niche reservation services.

  3. Expansion of the share of startups in the area of B&B and narrowly segmented marketplaces (ecotourism, glamping, fishing, etc.).

  4. Personalization of offers, and focus on the products enabling the users to share their travel experience and get advice from experts.

Leonid Marmer, Russian Union of Travel Industry board member, TravelTech mentor: “We hope that our joint effort with startups and industry partners, with the support of federal and regional executive authorities, public organizations and corporate funds, will help to create a full-fledged TravelTech cluster in Russia and make it a centre of competencies in the field of innovations and digitalization of the travel and hospitality industry. Now is the time when the travel industry desperately needs support for development of new technologies capable of replacing products and services from the companies who have exited the market”.

“Despite the difficulties the travel industry has been facing the past few years, we see that domestic tourism is in high demand. So, TravelTech for tourism industry is one of the priority areas our Fund is going to develop in the coming years. It is intrinsically connected to the information services helping the travellers to study their destination in detail and make recreation comfortable and convenient. We see how the Travletech projects are changing: for instance, hotel owners are now more interested in digitalization of additional services, while tourists value comfort, and quickness of service provision and hotel check-ins. We hope that the teams who have presented their projects to the judges at MITT Travel Start will only grow further, since not only tour operators are interested in modern travel developments, but other industries, such as telecommunications, banking, marketplaces, as well”, concludes Yekaterina Ryzhkova, Deputy Head of TravelTech Department at the Skolkovo Fund.

We look forward to seeing you among the participants of MITT Exhibition on March 19-21, 2024!