Virtuoso® incubator’s newest emerging travel tech participants ·

Virtuoso® incubator’s newest emerging travel tech participants

Artificial intelligence sits at the forefront of Virtuoso® incubator’s newest emerging travel tech participants

The industry’s leading tech program nurtures start-ups that improve the travel advising process and client experience

Virtuoso®, the global luxury travel network, has accepted five promising travel technology companies into its Incubator program for 2018, including its first companies concentrating on artificial intelligence (AI) applications. As the industry’s earliest formal program to foster new technology for travel advisors, Virtuoso Incubator helps emerging tech companies refine their products through real-world testing and feedback. The Incubator program strengthens the competitive edge of network member agencies, as the tools are customised to advisor needs, which leads to enhanced client service and business efficiencies.

Virtuoso was highly discerning this year, as it received applications from 45 companies and admitted only 11 percent of those, including three international participants from Canada and Australia. This strong interest comes during a five-year period of consecutive growth in the travel technology sector, with a record $5.3 billion invested in 2017 (source: CBInsights). Of the five companies selected for Incubator, two focus on AI, a market worth about $2.4 billion globally (source: Statista). In the travel industry, 25 percent of companies have already implemented cognitive computing, with another 41 percent planning to adopt technologies within a year (source: IBM).

Each Incubator company receives a dedicated panel of Virtuoso advisors who test the solution and suggest enhancements to better meet the needs of travel agencies, consultants and clients. In 2017, more than 100 advisors volunteered and, when surveyed, 100 percent of them indicated they would like to participate again. Once the trial period ends, Incubator companies are considered for full Virtuoso partnership. Customer relationship management solution TravelContact, a 2017 participant, has been accepted into the network, with its services eventually rolling out to member agencies worldwide.

“Virtuoso Incubator is the industry’s first program to provide travel tech start-ups with a missing but vital link,” said David Kolner, senior vice president, Global Member Partnerships at Virtuoso. “Companies had ideas and products, but no real-world testing to back them up. Through Incubator, our advisors lend strategic insight to help companies finesse business models, prioritize needs and validate assumptions. Our priority is on tools that enhance service and efficiency, and this year, with our two AI start-ups, we are leading the way in helping shape this exciting technology for the benefit of travel advisors and their clients.”

This year’s participants are:

eRoam: Based in Australia, eRoam offers an AI-powered solution that delivers personalised itineraries based on trends, freeing advisors from the need to constantly monitor developments for clients and improving efficiency. Its technology continuously scans current travellers’ data to advise future travellers of the same peer group on what is trending in transport, accommodations, and activities.

HelloGbye: The Canadian company offers a tool that saves travel advisors time by using AI to generate itinerary recommendations using the spoken word or ‘natural language’. It scans incoming communications and provides instant recommendations to advisors based on set preferences, purchase history and geo-demographic profiles.

Jrrny: A content creation platform for advisors to promote posts about destinations and their travel expertise, then capture leads from those posts. With millions of readers of this social travel platform, advisors can maximise marketing efforts and benefit from exposure to travel-savvy followers.

PlanitEasy: A central platform encompassing customer relationship management (with ClientBase integration), trip management, communication portal, project management, itinerary builder, accounting, and soon RFPs. This one-stop solution increases advisor efficiency by closing gaps, and makes planning easier, client experiences better and service more personal.

ZoomandGo: A map-based hotel reservation and analytics solution that makes booking via the GDS much easier, boosting productivity and sales. The tool from the Canadian company helps advisors increase rate code use, improving hotel program adherence and achieving sales goals.

Virtuoso Incubator’s partnership with Phocuswright, the global travel market research company, augments the network’s leadership in the technology space and assists it in identifying trends and participating start-ups. The two are collaborating on a study of the U.S. travel agency landscape, which will shed light on topics including how advisors are shifting to more technological business models. That research will guide the Incubator program’s direction and inform which emerging companies are accepted in the future.

Virtuoso Incubator is always open to applications from exceptional travel technology innovators. Interested start-ups can contact the program at incubator@virtuoso.com. For additional information, please visit www.virtuoso.com/incubator.

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