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Peek, an online travel technology and marketplace company with a software product in the market for experiences and trips, has raised $80 million.



COVID-19 colliding over the globe has sent us all to safety in place, and tourism and travel are gradually beginning to recover. On the back of its own success, a firm dedicated to experiences such as museum visits, skydiving, and local culinary classes is announcing a round of growth financing today. Peek, which enables consumers to find and book experiences, a platform for businesses to book team building and other internal events, and tech for tourism companies to digitize, manage, and run their own experience businesses online — “like a Shopify for experiences,” CEO and co-founder Ruzwana Bashir said — has raised $80 million. Peek’s management stated that with the funds, it will be able to expand its product, hire more employees, and take Peek to additional locations. After surpassing $2 billion in bookings from roughly 35 million consumers, mostly in North America, it plans to use the cash to continue growing its product.

The Series C, which was led by WestCap — the investment firm created by another important player in the field of travel, Laurence Tosi, former CFO of Airbnb – is notable for who is backing it. Goldman Sachs Asset Management, a new investor, has also joined the round. 3L, Cathay Innovation, I2BF Global Ventures, Manta Ray, and Apeiron are among the other notable participants. Jack Dorsey, Eric Schmidt, and Kayak creator Paul English are only three of the high-profile individuals who have previously backed it.

Peek, a San Francisco-based startup that lets you take polls via text message, declined to reveal its value. “We’ve grown the company significantly and are now profitable for the first time this year,” Bashir revealed to us. Peek has raised more than $100 million in the last ten years.

“Now that we are resuming investing, we are entering investment mode,” she continued. To summarize my previous comments, this round was originally supposed to be a $60 million investment, but it increased by $20 million just days ago, which reflects the level of confidence investors have in the travel and tourism industry.

Last year, when the Traveler’s Company was trying to figure out how to weather the longest storm in its history, many firms were regrouping and attempting to determine how they would continue operating during what had become a very long siege. Many of them had anticipated that the pandemic would have disappeared by the summer of 2020, and that a wave of enthusiastic activity in the warmer months would have followed. GetYourGuide, one of the world’s most well-funded travel experience businesses — valued at over $1 billion just six months before COVID-19 began — had to raise a large convertible note and then a big credit facility as it strengthened its business as the epidemic wore on.

Peek was not unscathed, either. “It was quite frightening for us when COVID-19 happened. We were getting better and then bookings crashed all of a sudden,” said Bashir, who co-founded the firm with Oskar Bruening. “We then did all of the unpleasant tasks,” Peek explains. To assist it get through the downturn, Peek cut 30% of its employees.

Peek also launched an offensive, considering how it might improve its customers on both sides of the company. End users were a big focus for the business, as it doubled down on virtual encounters (for example, online culinary lessons) and reimagined and expanded who “customers” might be by offering corporate and internal event reservations.

But the firm’s real key, it appears, was how it changed its approach to working with experience suppliers, allowing them to obtain their own emergency cash and giving them the tools to operate within the “new normal” by encouraging them to focus more on local activities for locals rather than tourists; as well as supplying them with better software and functionality so they may run those enterprises.

“We are the operating system for those merchants,” Bashir added.

It was the right decision: it meant that as those firms grew in sales, Peek prospered as well, during the epidemic. Voucher software currently accounts for “the majority” of Peek’s business, according to Gorman-Ross, though that could change in the near future as consumer travel begins to rebound and brings more activity to Peek’s own marketplace.

“There’s a lot of potential, $1 trillion in gross merchandise value, and yet many firms have not taken the step online,” Bruening stated. Customers were previously using pen, paper, phone calls, and managing spreadsheets, Bashir explained. “But now you can’t connect with them before you connect.”

Peek provides activities ranging from wine tours and watersports to skydiving and art lessons, while Pro, as the B2B2C product is known, offers tech that allows for online bookings, point-of-sale services, and “hundreds” of automations in areas such as inventory management, dynamic pricing, waivers, and marketing analytics. According to Peek, it has “thousands” of customers, including the Museum of Ice Cream, Color Factory, Artechouse (experiential art venues), and Pennekamp State Park.

Some of those companies, without a doubt, target younger customers and were thus probably already quite digitally literate to begin with, but Bashir feels that Peek’s success in creating B2B2C technology for experience firms is part of the wider trend in the business software industry.

“People underestimate what occurred offline. There was a significant advancement in e-commerce,” she said of the traditional tale about how COVID-19 impacted firms that were already online. Offline vendors, on the other hand, were compelled to make what she describes as a “10-year leap” in order to catch up. Peek is part of a battalion of technology firms that have rushed to fill the gap for various other purposes, such as developing software for restaurants or logistics or curbside pickup for brick-and-mortar stores.

“We’ve been early adopters and investors in travel technology firms, and for years we’ve been watching,” said Tosi of WestCap. “Ruzwana Bashir is a dynamic leader who has taken from being a niche site to serving millions of people. This is a game-changing idea that will allow more visitors and locals to have meaningful experiences while also allowing activity businesses to flourish.”

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How social media influencers are Controlling public opinion



Influencer marketing has seen an amazing rise in popularity in recent years, with entire industries being developed for big-name personalities who are paid to promote brand sponsorships with their millions of followers.

Although influencers with substantial audiences have been the focus of many marketers, savvy marketers have started targeting lesser-known influencers who aren’t nearly as well-known as their big-name peers, which has prompted fresh interest in less formal outreach.

The influencer’s market is being invaded by Nano Influencers, which could change the game.

According to the most recent data from Wowzi, a company that offers brand and business-level influencer marketing tools, this trend is shifting.

While the most popular accounts appear to have the broadest reach, smaller accounts with sizes of micro or nano-influencers frequently outrank their big-name counterparts.

With some influencers having millions of followers, getting an endorsement from one may appear to be a very effective marketing tool for a company.

However, the tide is turning, and numerous companies are recognizing the advantages of working with micro or nano-influencers, proving that it’s feasible to collaborate with your beloved brands even if you only have a few hundred followers.

Small businesses are increasingly aligning their marketing efforts to target nano content producers seeking to profit from their social media accounts and create long-term sources of income outside of traditional or formal employment.

The messenger matters a lot in emerging markets because of the low level of trust. An online endorsement from someone you know is far more effective than a celebrity recommendation, for example. As a result, nano influencers with smaller, more personalized followers are able to provide better-qualified sales leads. Everyone has influence.

The term “nano-influencer” refers to social media users with 250 to 5,000 followers. Engagement on content by nano-influencers is almost three times higher than that of celebrity personalities.

A good example is Linda Okero, who works full-time and creates content on the side. She has less than 2,000 Instagram followers and is a micro-influencer in the truest sense of the word.

She advertises company-sponsored social media content on her sites, such as Facebook and Instagram posts sponsored by East Africa Breweries Ltd (EABL), Coca-Cola, Netflix, and charges.

For years, we’ve thought that for companies to create a community, it must be driven by influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers on social media. We’re showing marketers that genuine influence is about authenticity, and I believe this is why they’re paying attention to nano-influencers.

When it comes to influencing, most people think of the big celebrity figures and forget the local nano-influencers who connect with their target audiences, particularly those outside cities.

Because they share the same beliefs and culture as potential target customers, these influencers live among them, speak their language, and participate in their activities, raising the probability of conversion. In order to realize our growth goals through this channel, we must also work together with the private and public sectors to establish beneficial relationships.

It’s critical to find a balance between old and new media in order to reach a varied audience via the media they consume.

We’re thrilled to introduce you to Wowzi, an innovative new marketing platform that has already secured 60,000 influencers in East Africa through word of mouth and has handled over 150 campaigns for over 100 customers.

After successfully delivering 150,000 paid employment opportunities in 2021, the business has announced plans to provide one million gig job opportunities for African youth by 2022 through its online marketplace.

Mobile use has become a key element of commerce in African markets, and it’s where young people already spend their time. Young people may simply learn the fundamental concepts of sharing brand messages using a lightweight remote training, so anyone with a phone can now influence their peers through social media.

According to the Hootsuite Digital 2021 Data Report, 20 million people in East Africa use social media.

Kenya has the most people on social media, with 11 million users, followed by Tanzania (5.4 million users), which is 8.9 percent of the population; and Uganda has about 3.4 million social media users, or 7.3 percent of the population.

In September 2021, Safaricom engaged a small “army” of influencers to create TikTok videos about a new product. With thousands of user-generated comments, the challenge was rapidly seen by millions of people. Within a week, the hashtag had 8 million views.


These are campaign outcomes that would not have been feasible previously because Safaricom could simply engage a dozen influencers one-on-one for the same campaign.

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Fast fashion & looking towards a sustainable future



Fast-fashion clothing production generates a lot of textile waste and significant environmental problems.

Many companies are beginning to address sustainability in fashion, as many have moved away from fast-fashion manufacturing processes. Fast-fashion companies have been criticized for their actions due to environmental and ethical issues such as textile waste and unequal labor regulations and wages. Some clients, as well as other members of the business, believe that something should be done. 

Fast-fashion consumers are among the most difficult to persuade because they’re among the highest spenders on fast fashion. Because of their high costs, students who attend college are some of the most significant purchasers of fast fashion. Popular sustainable labels such as Reformation have price ranges from $100 to $200 for a single shirt.

However, many individuals are under the impression that there are few options to high-priced long-lasting fashion labels — they are also better for the environment.

Rebecca Turner, senior apparel, merchandising, design and textiles major, said that there are two ways to purchase clothes more sustainably.

One of the most effective strategies to promote sustainability is secondhand shopping, because you’re not buying something new; instead, you’re purchasing something used, which can continue through its life cycle and result in no additional goods being created.

In terms of sustainability, junior apparel, merchandise development, design and textiles major Olivia Lewis is optimistic that it may be achieved by college students. She does not doubt that it presents a challenge, but she thinks it is possible.

“I feel like it’s all about finding balance, especially for college students,” Lewis said. In a decade, it’s quite probable that brands will be completely sustainable. In the meantime, students have an important long-term interest in holding the fashion industry and fast-fashion firms to account for their poor practices.

Trends are influenced by consumers and teenagers. We choose what’s trendy, what’s out of style, and what the next greatest things are. We utilize social media to express our own personalities. This gives Instagram and TikTok influencers power to influence the industry’s course. This may also add to overconsumption, if you’re an influencer receiving a product you’ll only use once or a consumer who is influenced to buy unnecessary things.

Huge clothing hauls from influencers are increasingly popular on social media sites. According to Lewis, when viewers see individuals doing Shein hauls of around 30 items for $100 on TikTok, they may be tempted to over-consume on websites like Shein and Zaful.

Overindulgence in charming and fashionable tops, on the other hand, doesn’t consider the influence of supporting businesses that mistreat their employees.When we acquire from fast-fashion businesses, we are essentially telling them that we condone their unethical methods.

It’s critical to learn about how our clothes are manufactured and the working conditions of those who make them. Fortunately, there are tools available to assist consumers in determining whether their favorite companies are ethical.The app “Good on You” assesses companies in three categories: labor, the environment, and animal testing or utilization.

Students do not need to replace their entire wardrobe with environmentally friendly brands in order to be more sustainable.If you want to refresh your wardrobe or try clothing swapping with your buddies, there are several options. The easiest approach to be more long-lasting in terms of style is to utilize what we already have in our closets and seek for improvement, not perfection.

We, as customers, have the ability to push for more sustainable and ethical practices from the fashion business. It’s critical that we become informed about the drawbacks of fast fashion so that we can make more educated decisions about where to spend our money. We can build a more sustainable future for us and future generations if we start supporting companies that are environmentally responsible and treat their workers fairly.

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Celebrity Cruises has announced that children 5 years old and above must be fully Vaccinated



In a statement to travel agents, Celebrity Cruises Senior Vice President of Sales and Trade Dondra Ritzenthaler announced the new policy change that will affect passengers aged 5 to 12.

From February 1, 2022, all passengers aged 5 years or older must be vaccinated fully. Unvaccinated children between the ages of two and four will be compelled to present a negative Antigen or PCR test obtained within three days of boarding any of the Celebrity cruises.

Previously, children between the ages of two and eleven were required to submit a negative Antigen or PCR test conducted within three days of boarding. There has been no change in Royal Caribbean International’s vaccination policy.

“The COVID-19 worldwide epidemic has not only altered how we do business, it has also changed safety standards and operating procedures in nearly every area of the travel industry,” according to Ms. Ritzenthaler.

“Since the start of this crisis, Celebrity Cruises has prioritized one goal above all else: to provide the safest cruise vacations available in the business. That’s why we enlisted a board of specialists to assist us in revising our already outstanding health and safety measures to new industry-leading levels. That is why we continue to update our procedures in order to stay ahead of global events. It’s all part of our leadership in safety, which is committed to ensuring that your clients and guests enjoy their bucket list excursion with no concerns. We’ve safely carried hundreds of thousands of guests all around the world with these enhanced protocols.”

Starting on January 13, 2022, children under the age of five who have not been fully vaccinated are not permitted to board Disney Cruise Line vessels.

Celebrity Cruises had already mandated that 95% of its passengers be fully immunized in order to sail, which was a step above Royal Caribbean’s previous requirement.

Because not many people were required to be vaccinated by Royal Caribbean in order for families to travel with them, there was no need for other companies to follow suit.

The CDC gave cruise lines two options in April 2021: skip test cruises if 98 percent of crew and 95 percent of passengers are fully vaccinated, or do simulated sailings first.

The simulated sailings were chosen by Royal Caribbean because it is dedicated to the family experience.

“Once there were two distinct options, 95 percent or less than that, it wasn’t even a question,” says Mark Tamis, senior vice president of Hotel Operations for Royal Caribbean International.

“We’re the world’s largest family cruise company,” boasts Tamis, who claims that more than 1 million youngsters travel on Royal Caribbean vessels every year. “It was obvious to go down this route,” she adds.

Will Royal Caribbean’s vaccine requirements change?

There has been no change in Royal Caribbean International’s policy on vaccines for children.

According to Royal Caribbean, as of now, only those 12 years old and older must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination; the last dose of their immunization was given at least 14 days before boarding. Children aged 5 to 11 who have been vaccinated may present proof of full protection and follow the established procedures for vaccinated guests.

Depending on the length and departure port of their cruise, guests under the age of 12 who have not been vaccinated will need to complete additional COVID-19 testing requirements.

During a question and answer session two weeks ago, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley was questioned about a policy change.

“The plan is to release updates when and if we do make the changes. As a result, when we announce our plans, people get plenty of notice.”

“We do know that for ages 12 to 17, in the United States, where we state that everyone must be vaccinated, just 48 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds have been immunized.”

“Right now, from 5 to 12, we believe that just 35% of parents will get their five- to-12-year-olds vaccinated in the future. We feel that this is going to change. So we’d want to go up from there. We’re merely looking at the data and will probably continue analyzing it for a little while longer before making a decision.”

“We’re monitoring it, and as soon as we think we’ve found a reasonable solution, we’ll undoubtedly notify everyone. We’ll give everyone time to react.”

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