Travel technology has now become an entity – a defined subset of the wider world of information technology, a practice, a sector and a real “thing”. Within the entire field of travel tech we find events, publications, specialist analysts and dedicated innovation hubs with locations designed to bring innovators together.
Built from the ground up to create environments that will cultivate a virtuous spiral of positive innovation, travel tech hubs play a vital role as centres of excellence that help firms follow defined best practices and efficiencies.
Back in 2009, software-consulting services company Trampoline Systems decided to invite other like-minded, creative people to work in their well-designed headquarters in London. They called the collaborative space “The Trampery”.
The Trampery’s mission from the outset was to create a global hub for innovation in the travel, tourism and hospitality sector. Combining London & Partners’ specialist knowledge of the sector itself with The Trampery’s expertise in selecting & nurturing start-ups, the resulting Traveltech Lab has stated that it will work to bring established industry leaders together with world-changing innovators.
Although traditionally known as the “city of love, today, Paris could also be known as the “city of future tourism invention”. This is the self-stated mission of the Welcome City Lab, with the accompaniment of Paris&Co, the economic development and innovation agency of Paris, itself.
Welcome City Lab says that its mission centres on creating a mindset and a culture of innovation in the Parisian tourism industry. It wants to encourage Parisian and international start-ups to get interested in tourism, while also helping to detect and accelerate promising start-ups that may become tourism leaders in the near future. With 47 million annual visitors from around the world coming to the greater Paris area every year, the French capital knows a thing or two about hospitalité, non?
Also of note, a French equivalent of Silicon Valley, called “La French Tech”, is a government-backed organisation that helps start-ups. The wider scope of La French Tech initiative has a strong international presence via its 12 French Tech hubs located in New York, Israel, Tokyo, San Francisco, Montreal, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Moscow, Barcelona, London, Abidjan and Seoul.
Paris is also the home of the incredibly successful “Le Web” conference series that has attracted from international firms from Silicon Valley and across Europe to attend. Presented in English for international appeal, Le Web regularly features industry heavyweights, including Google and Microsoft. It also plays host to firms from places such as Israel, a location that is becoming known as a seat of huge tech, including travel tech, innovation.
Kreativität in Deutschland
On the way to being known as Silicon Allee (German for Silicon Avenue) perhaps, Berlin is Germany’s emerging travel tech hub. The capital city is rapidly increasing its number of creative workspaces, including those in the travel tech space, in order to house the city’s 150,000 university students, who will be keen to work in modern contemporary office environments.
In more specific terms, 2014 saw the launch of Factory Berlin, a creative campus designed to encourage collaboration and innovation with corporate partners, including Lufthansa and Google. Although slightly wider than a pure focus on travel tech, this hub embraces the fast-emerging, tech-driven side of the hospitality industry. It offers start-ups an environment where they can connect with larger corporates that have signed up for space.
Factory Berlin hosts sessions dedicated to marketing, Kickstarter programmes, copywriting, e-commerce and even the more esoteric elements of technology, such as machine learning. The organisation’s mission is to build a curated community that bring together bright minds and develop a network that includes freelancers, start-ups regardless of size, age and vertical, and established corporations, as well as investors and leading influencers from politics and science.
Asian Tigers roaring
As an emerging tiger economy, India has grown its travel and technology sectors more vibrantly than many outside observers may have expected over the 25 years. With Bangalore as its travel tech hub, the city not only boasts the highest number of call centres, it also has a wide pool of highly qualified engineers, programmers and an ever-increasing number of investors.
Many of the travel, tourism and hospitality innovators who base themselves in a centre of excellence or an innovation hub will gravitate towards the major industry events, conferences and exhibitions that create engagement and presentation opportunities. Of particular note in this arena are the TechCrunch Disrupt and Travel Technology Europe events.
TechCrunch Disrupt describes itself as a platform for debuting revolutionary start-ups, introducing game-changing technologies and a forum for discussing what’s top of mind for the tech industry’s key innovators. The event itself gathers entrepreneurs, investors, hackers and tech fans for on-stage interviews, a “start-up battlefield” competition, a 24-hour hackathon and something known as the “start-up alley” showcasing zone.
Travel Technology Europe has been running for over a decade now and the event is positioned as a niche platform to show off and examine relevant products and services for the travel, tourism and hospitality sector. The event is designed to attract travel and hospitality IT professionals, senior commercial management and marketing specialists. Travel Technology Europe typically presents products, services and solutions on show from around 100 specialist suppliers and hosts around 40 hours of educational content for the 5,000+ attendees.