Travel Tech Con 2018

In June, Penguino Founder and CEO Sara Brinton traveled to San Francisco for Travel Tech Con. Penguino was one of the startups selected to demo at event, which brings together entrepreneurs, developers and travel industry experts. Read about Sara’s time in San Francisco!

By Sara Brinton

San Francisco is one of my favorite places in the world! I arrived a day early for the conference to soak in the city. I love to shop and explore San Francisco’s unique neighborhoods. From avocado toast to oysters, San Francisco is an incredible place to eat too.

Travel Tech Con Day One

The first day of the conference is all about startups! I love getting the opportunity to connect with other entrepreneurs building innovative solutions to the problems in the travel industry. There were some amazing companies pitching on stage. My favorite is Vacation Fund, which makes it easy for companies to match their employees vacation savings as a benefit. What a cool idea! Like me, the CEO is Vacation Fund is a grad from Founder Institute. That evening, I joined other travel entrepreneurs from Austin for delicious Thai food.

Travel Tech Con Day Two

Day two means in-depth workshops. I started the day with a deep dive into business model design. The workshop, led by Tobias from Business Models Inc. was a great opportunity to think through Penguino’s strategy. I left the workshop with a roadmap to test ideas that could lead Penguino towards a more sustainable, scalable business model.

Friday afternoon is beautiful and sunny, so I join other travel entrepreneurs for a cocktail on a rooftop bar in SOMA. We end up exploring a handful of fun spots across the city!

Travel Tech Con Day Three

Day three is packed with sessions by travel industry leaders. This is a great opportunity for Founders who may be experts in technology, design or marketing to learn more about the industry. We leave the conference feeling both challenged and inspired. While travel is a massive, growing market – and there are many opportunities for entrepreneurs – the industry has some unique challenges.

Here are two things we learned at Travel Tech Con that will shape our business going foward:

  1. Travel planning and inspiration is a challenging business. For most travelers there is a disconnect between planning and booking. Many startups that have tried to monetize through affiliate revenue have struggle to find a sustainable business model and ultimately failed. For Penguino to succeed, we need to find a better way!
  2. Travelers trust influencers and friends. When it comes to getting ideas for a trip, travelers are savvy. They no longer trust reviews on websites like TripAdvisor and Yelp. They know the difference between ads and authentic recommendations. Travelers trust their friends and influencers they follow. This is a unique opportunity for Penguino!
  3. Focus, focus, focus. Travel is a huge market and many of the most successful companies start by focusing on a niche. At Penguino, we’re one of the only travel technology startups focused on the needs of millennial families. Today’s young families want to travel differently than older generations. They want to take their kids overseas and they seek out authentic, adventurous experiences. We’re building our company to meet these families’ needs.

After the conference, I spent one more day in San Francisco breathing in the fresh air and exploring new parts of the city. My husband Mark joined me to celebrate my birthday. They day was perfect: organic juice for breakfast, an incredible massage at a Japanese spa, sushi for lunch, shopping in the afternoon, farm-to-table Italian food and wine for dinner and then watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean from Baker Beach. I love traveling with kids…but highly recommend finding a day here or there with just your partner!