Travel is big business – according to Reuters, the travel and tourism sector grew 3.9 percent to $8.8 trillion in 2018 and beat global GDP growth of 3.2 percent in the same reporting period.

And while established giants like Priceline Group and Carson Wagonlit Travel command market shares of multiple billions between them, there’s still room for smaller firms to squeeze themselves into a niche and grow from strength to strength.

If you’re yearning to break into the business, you might need some inspiration from former challenger firms that emerged as champions.

With that in mind, here are three web-based businesses taking the travel sector by storm.

OpenRice

No matter where you come from, if you possess a refined palate you’ll probably agree that Asian dishes from places like Hong Kong, Singapore, and Japan are terrifically tantalizing for the tastebuds.

And if you’re visiting these hotspots in person, Asian cuisine ratings site OpenRice collates recommendations from thousands of diners across the continent, enabling you to make an informed choice of where to pull up a chair and tuck in.

Founded in 1999, OpenRice has 530,000 registered diners, 5 million app downloads and is worth an estimated $36 million according to Worth of Web – who said you can’t make money by simply telling people what they should eat?

Hostelworld

For beach bums, backpackers and anyone else who regards themselves as a traveler rather than a tourist, a hostel might provide a richer and more immersive experience than a sanitized and sterile hotel.

So the Hostelworld review platform has capitalized on the popularity of this accommodation type by becoming the world’s biggest hostel review site, with no less than 11.5 million reviews for hostels in over 179 countries.

Based in Dublin, it now has offices worldwide and was voted a ‘Best Workplace’ in the 2017 Great Place to Work awards, so it seems to have scaled up its positive culture successfully.

Looking4.com

Finding a reasonably priced airport parking space online was always notoriously tricky – that is, until global and US parking site Looking4.com entered the fray and made the whole process child’s play for travelers around the world.

The tech travel firm was founded in Leeds, England and grew rapidly in recent years, serving 800,000 travelers in 2017 before being bought by Manchester Airport Group (MAG) in 2018 for an undisclosed sum.

One of the platform’s great strengths is its comprehensive coverage of practically any airport on Earth – it can help you park your ride safely anywhere from global hubs like JFK to California’s small but perfectly formed Ontario International Airport. 

These three web-based travel companies prove that with dedication and a really useful purpose, it’s possible to punch above your weight in any sector – hopefully, they encourage you to dip your toes into the wonderful world of global tourism.

That’s our list! Share your own travel sector thoughts in the comments section.