Once again this year the Phocuswright Conference in Florida did not disappoint. With global leaders taking part in the Travel Innovation Summit, including Umapped, it was fascinating to see how travel technology is evolving at such a rapid pace. I met some amazing founders who presented their solutions to particular problems currently plaguing the travel industry.
While watching others present during the Travel Summit a quote from Craig Kreeger, CEO of Virgin Atlantic kept repeating in my mind, “Innovation is not always about technology. It comes from considering the human experience”. It was the solutions that identified the importance of a personal focus that resonated with me. Trekkable is a new platform that helps travelers with mobility challenges find hotels with universally accessible rooms and entryways. What could more human than that? Another great example is HelloGBye, providing travelers the ability to find, book and change travel arrangements in minutes by simply just speaking into the app on their mobile device.
My presentation centered around how the travel industry continues to develop applications that deliver fragmented experiences to travelers.
Travel companies and professionals communicate to their customers using a variety of channels including static email confirmations, social media, blog posts and online marketing. For the last 5-10 years, we have seen several itinerary tools focus on developing technology that allows people to forward their booking confirmations and consolidate bookings into a single app – but this is just scratching the surface for travelers.
Consider a woman planning her family vacation and whether online or with the help of travel advisors, information starts piling in from multiple sources, first beginning with static booking confirmations in emails or PDF documents. But where can she add ideas from articles and blogs she read online? Additionally how can she manage all of the great recommendations she received from friends, family, and co-workers that arrived as emails, text messages or long threads in a Facebook post?
As an industry – is this the best human experience that we can deliver to travelers?
The catalyst in creating Umapped started with a customer-first attitude centered on the human experience, providing travelers with a living itinerary and a social layer allowing travelers to incorporate ideas easily from their social and personal networks
To bring our vision to reality, we developed the industry’s first truly collaborative Itinerary Management Platform, helping the global travel brands we work with engage their customers at every stage of travel. Our white-label platform transforms static booking confirmations into a complete and live itinerary, with curated content delivered to travelers at the right time.
Equally we recognized the pain points experienced by Travel Agencies and TMCs with how time-consuming it can be to manage an itinerary for a customer with bookings and content originating from so many different sources and developed an environment for industry partners, suppliers, and agencies to plan travel in a collaborative way.
We could not do this alone. Working with leading travel consortiums including Virtuoso Travel Network, Travel Leaders, and Ensemble Travel Network has helped us to connect with leading travel companies around the world. In addition to the agencies using Umapped we have been adding a growing number of Tour Operators including Classic Vacations, Travel2, the Globus Family of Brands and Alpine Adventures, who are motivated by the ability to collaborate with their agency partners
There was also much excitement around our newest innovation that I introduced last week – a collaborative “Notification and Messaging Center” that provides group messaging drilled down to each booking within an itinerary. This helps travelers communicate with their travel providers within the context of their personal travel agenda, and empowers travel brands to continue engaging their customers as they’re finalizing their plans or already in a destination.
A special thanks to Phocuswright for the privilege of presenting at the 2015 Travel Innovation Summit and congratulations to all the other innovative companies that shared the stage with us. For those who did not make it to the conference, please contact us if you would like to see a demo.