Space tourism is “the next frontier” for the travel industry, says founder of Spacebookings.com

spacebookingA Sydney-based entrepreneur is aiming for the stars with his new start-up, Spacebookings.com, and talks to ™Watch about how he envisions space tourism as “the next frontier in the travel sector”.

Ian Cumming is a prolific and well-regarded founder of several travel start-ups including TravellrGetFlight and Travel Massive, and planted the seeds for his new business by lodging a trade mark for the Spacebookings.com logo (pictured) in June this year.

“It isn’t just ‘space nerds’ who are interested in space tourism, as it may have been years ago, but it is now a reality and a vast mainstream audience awaits the chance to jet into the stratosphere – it’s not a question of if, but when,” he says.

Two advisers helping with the project are UK-based SkyScanner co-founder, Barry Smith, and US-based aviation and travel industry expert, Timothy O’Neil-Dunne, who was also a founding team member of Expedia.

Cumming works primarily at co-working space Fishburners in central Sydney with another start-up entrepreneur and fellow Spacebookings.com co-founder, Kevin Lippy.

“Kevin and I have an extensive background in online travel,” Cumming explains. “And together we are starting a service from scratch, in an industry that is at its very dawn – so we really need to work on building an audience, understanding them and then continuing to engage them as the industry grows.”

The project is self-funded so far, and Cumming confirms that “we’re less interested in funding than getting our strategy right”.

“Figures like Richard Branson, with Virgin Galactic, and Jeff Bezos, with Blue Origin, are forward-thinkers of our time who are already looking into the sky and making this a reality – and we share their vision.”

The Spacebookings.com website is currently a portal to join a mailing list, and the message on the site reads:

The exclusivity of space travel is so reserved that we think of it as being something only NASA astronauts and the elite and affluent can afford. However what you may not realize is that Space Travel will almost certainly reach a point where it is affordable for everyday private citizens, and we believe we will reach that point within the next decade.

The first aim for the website, Cumming says, is to be “the authoritative source for space tourism information”, with a proposed launch date of before the end of 2013.

“We have found it very difficult to find accurate and extensive information about space travel – not astronomy or space, but specifically space tourism,” he adds. “So we want to launch the site with extensive space tourism content, and then create and build a community around that.”

That community-building strategy is starting off well, with the Facebook page already at 1,600 followers.

spacebookings

Beyond that initial phase, a large-scale digital booking platform for the space tourism industry is in the works, although Cumming says “it isn’t about just jetting into space in a rocket”.

“You have to plan getting to the space ports around the globe, and then spending up to three-days training for the flight, so you’ll need somewhere to stay for that.

“Customers who book to go into space in the next five years are, let’s face it, very rich,” he adds. “They want a premium service to and from their front door, not just the time they spend above our planet.”

The plan isn’t for Spacebookings.com to be a separate entity from the broader online travel eco-system, but to ‘see how it can fit in with the bigger players like Expedia’.

“There is currently an online travel eco-system for all types of travel – from airlines and booking cars to hotels and excursions,” Cumming says. “One of our aims is to see how space tourism can plug into the current online tourism architecture.”

Ultimately, he concludes, the hope is that Spacebookings.com will be the leading space tourism platform when the inevitable growth happens – for example, Virgin Galactic announced this week that commercial space flights will begin next year.

“China and Russia are the high growth areas in online travel today, but space travel will be the high growth area of the future – and we want to be a big part of that when it happens.”

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Sydneysider lodges for ‘NBN Direct’

nbndirectA Sydney resident has lodged an Australian trade mark application for the logo (pictured) of a not-yet-launched service, ‘NBN Direct’.

A website, at NBNDirect.com.au, is online but only contains contact details, with no details of exactly what the service will provide.

™Watch tried the phone number but there was no answer. An email has also been sent, with no reply as yet.

The trade mark application was lodged yesterday by Benjamin Laurie, with an address listed in Waterloo, Sydney. It is for the term ‘NBN DIRECT CONNECT DIRECT’ and the associated logo.

It covers a slew of telecommunications and advisory classes, specifically (but summarised):

Class 38: Advisory services relating to telecommunications; Cellular telecommunications services; Charitable services, namely telecommunications; Chat room services (telecommunications services); Delivery of digital music by telecommunications; Fibre optic telecommunications services; Hire of telecommunications apparatus, installations, instruments; Remote transmission of data by means of telecommunications; Switching network services (telecommunications)

A Google search for ‘NBN Direct‘ appears to bring up zero relevant results.

The domain name NBNDirect.com.au is registered to the aforementioned Ben Laurie, and also to ‘THE PLANT YARD PTY LTD’, a Sydney-based construction company (website). Laurie has also registered NBNDirect.com, although it remains offline.

™Watch contacted the owned of The Plant Yard, Ivan Brbot, who said he was ‘good friends’ with Laurie but was unaware of NBN Direct.

The NBN Direct trade mark application remains at the status of ‘Indexing Approved’, meaning it has not been seen by an IP examiner yet.

Click to view a screenshot of Ben Laurie’s NBN Direct trade mark application.

Apple hoping to trade mark the term ‘STARTUP’

applegApple has lodged an audacious Australian trade mark application for the term ‘STARTUP’, covering a whole host of products and services.

As with most companies in the field of innovation, Apple is well-known for buying fledgling startups, and only recently acquired mapping platform Embark and video discovery tool Matcha.tv.

The ‘STARTUP’ application was lodged yesterday, August 27, by the Californian headquarters of Apple and a Sydney-based legal representative, Baker & McKenzie.

If accepted, Apple would hold the trade mark of the word ‘STARTUP’ under various retail, computing, mobile and educational classes. Specifically:

Class 35: Retail store services, including retail store services featuring computers, computer software, computer peripherals, mobile phones, and consumer electronic devices, and demonstration of products relating thereto

Class 37: Maintenance, installation and repair of computer hardware, computer peripherals and consumer electronic devices; consulting services in the field of maintenance of computer hardware, computer peripherals, and consumer electronic devices

Class 41: Educational services, including conducting classes, workshops, conferences and seminars in the field of computers, computer software, computer peripherals, mobile phones, and consumer electronic devices and computer-related services; providing information in the field of education

Class 42: Design and development of computer hardware and software; technical support services, namely, troubleshooting of computer hardware and software problems; installation, maintenance and updating of computer software; technological consultancy services in the field of computers, computer software and consumer electronics; computer diagnostic services; computer data recovery

A Google search doesn’t reveal any directly relevant results that could hint at Apple’s intentions, although it has lodged a similar trade mark in the past, both in Australia and the US – the Australian one, from 2011, has never been accepted.

Also, the official Apple website references its operating system booting-up as ‘Startup’ (with a capital letter). In December last year, Apple was awarded the US trade mark for its startup ‘chime’ (the sound a Mac computer makes when switched on).

The trade mark application is at the very early status of ‘Filing – Approved’, meaning it has not been seen by an IP examiner.

Click to view a screenshot of Apple’s ‘STARTUP’ trade mark application.

This is one of a slew of recent trade marks by Apple in Australia. A fortnight ago it lodged for ‘multi-touch’, and in April it successfully trade marked the leaf in its logo.

Read about other recent Apple trade mark filings in Australia here.

Apple isn’t the only major tech company lodging trade marks in Australia this week, with Samsung lodging a trade mark on Wednesday for ‘Samsung Zeq’.

Aussie entrepreneur aims for the stars with newly lodged trade mark

spacebookingThe Sydney-based founder of various Australian travel start-ups has lodged a new trade mark application for what appears to be a sub-orbital travel website, Spacebookings.com.

Ian Cumming, who founded sites including Travellr, GetFlight and Travel Massive, purchased the Spacebookings.com domain on May 21, and lodged the trade mark application for the logo (pictured) on June 4.

The trade mark application – TM number 1560913 – is lodged under class 39, specifically covering “booking of tickets for travel, provision of travel information, travel reservation”. It is currently at the status of ‘Indexing Approved’.

The Spacebookings.com website went online today, and claims:

The exclusivity of space travel is so reserved that we think of it as being something only NASA astronauts and the elite and affluent can afford. However what you may not realize is that Space Travel will almost certainly reach a point where it is affordable for everyday private citizens, and we believe we will reach that point within the next decade.

SpaceBookings.com’s mission is to be an information and booking service for adventurous travelers who want to experience travel out of this world.

It currently only allows users to join a mailing list, and also states:

SpaceBookings.com’s initial focus will be to provide up to date information around sub-orbital adventures. We can’t wait to bring you developments in orbital space tourism in due time also.

Cumming told ™Watch that the Spacebookings.com business “is collaborating with some really interesting people”, and hoped the website would launch properly “in the next three months”.

The site could compete with the similarly-named Spaceflightbooking.com. The website of Virgin Galactic also has a booking page for its own future space flights.

Residing in Sydney, Cumming is a well-known Australian entrepreneur of online travel start-ups, and lists the various companies he has founded on his personal website.

These include Australia’s first map-based airfare website GetFlight (which closed a month ago), the world’s largest travel industry meeting site Travel Massive and travel Q&A service Travellr.

He describes himself as being “on a journey to create scalable online companies that do things better”, and says that he “collaborates with people around the world in the fields of travel & tourism, web technology, and building connected communities”.

™Watch will have an update on the plans for Spacebookings.com later in the week.

Click to view a screenshot of the Spacebookings.com trade mark application.