Travel Agents

Virtuoso’s APAC MD on how to best utilise emerging tech in travel

One of the biggest challenges facing travel companies is finding the best way to keep up with the latest technology.

Another big challenge is figuring the best way to integrate that tech into your business model.

Through their Incubator program, Luxury travel network Virtuoso seems to have found a way to do both.

The program selects relevant emerging tech companies and helps them to refine their product through real-world testing and feedback.

Each Incubator company receives a dedicated panel of Virtuoso advisors who test out their tech and suggest enhancements to better meet the needs of travel agencies, consultants and clients.

We spoke with Virtuoso’s APAC Managing Director, Michael Londregan to get the low down on how the program works and how its benefitting Virtuoso members.

“Often the problem for many start-ups is they’ve got no early users. They’ve got no reference point and no feedback coming into them about how their technology is going,” he told us.

“We put them with a group of our members who use the technology and give them feedback. That way, we’re becoming a partner at the grassroots level with a new technology provider.”

It gives us a chance to road test emerging technologies for the market and for our members. It really helps us get in on the grassroots and lets us work with people who have some really imaginative ideas that we wouldn’t have come up with ourselves.”

This year, Virtuoso received applications from 45 companies and admitted only 11 per cent of those, including three international participants from Canada and Australia.

Of the five companies selected for Incubator, two focus on AI.

So why the interest in AI?

“We don’t actually know,” said Londregan.

“AI technology has such a “wow” factor, but how are we gonna use that? Hows it going to really change how someone gets into the purchase cycle?”

“And i think its a topic we’re going to be definitly working with but we dont exactly know how thats going to look or which technology is going to be dominent.”

“But I’m absolutely sure that in this travel centre we actually ask people to pay the money before they actually experience the product. This makes people nervous that creates risk that maybe AI can address.”

Londregan also said a good use for the AI technology would be for chatbots, which Virtuoso is already trialling in the US.

Customers increasingly are expecting a 24/7 service when they do go online so we are looking at chatbots in terms of that, but this is not a replacement idea.”

“We’re really moving from technology replacing humans to a different idea which is tech helping people do their job better.”

So far, Virtuoso have seen some major benefits come out of the program in terms of trip planning and itineraries.

“We need to understand that the customer is looking for an entire experience. They’re not looking for an airfare and a hotel per say, they’re actually looking for whats going to happen at their destination in a holistic way,” he said.

“Some of this material is fantastic because it’s bringing in local attractions, restaurants, restaurant reviews, day tourism options and so on.”

“Instead of waiting to get there and having to go see the concierge, the trip planning technology is giving customers options and insights before they even get there.”

This year’s Incubator 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.

The program is always open to applications from exceptional travel technology innovators. Interested start-ups can contact the program at  incubator@virtuoso.com.

For additional information, go here.



SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Leave a Reply

Events

Collette wraps up its first travel forum in two years

The tour operator hosted top sellers, partners, key travel players and media friends (that’s us!) for poolside shenanigans in sunny Cairns.

Share

CommentComments

Wholesalers

“Travel is the great educator”: Collette CEO Dan Sullivan on why we need travel now more than ever

We spent the past few days sipping mojitos by the pool in Cairns… Oh, and attending Collette’s travel forum! Here’s proof we were listening.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

“It’s our shout”: Flight Centre is giving away free holidays!

The travel giant is giving away 40 holidays to celebrate its 40th Birthday! Nobody tell them that it’s usually the other way around…

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

QT Newcastle signature restaurant and bar revealed!

It might seem like we’re calling Newcastle a ‘cutie’ but rest assured, our cutest NSW city award still goes to Griffith.

Share

CommentComments

Events

Australian Tourism Exchange 2022 concluded and next year’s location revealed!

The rumours are that next year’s event will have twice as many arancini balls and half the day will be dedicated to playing Mario Kart. Bear in mind our source for this was a 6 year old boy…

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Japan gets closer to reopening its border with experimental group tours

Don’t worry, the fact that the tours are operating is what makes them experimental. You won’t have to remember your high school science skills for a trip to Japan (at least we don’t think so).

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Do you want to explore South Australia? Complete a few training modules for your chance at a famil!

The team at South Australian Tourism Commission has your next holiday sorted with a famil offering for travel agents and product managers.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

ATEC tickled pink with Labor Party tourism funding promise

As professional journalists, we at Travel Weekly remain completely unbiased when it comes to political matters. However, we’re just going to leave this here…

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

“The time is right”: industry legend, Barry Mayo, retires after 60+ years in travel

We think we speak for everyone when we say we can’t imagine an Australian travel industry without this industry stalwart!

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Tourism Western Australia partners with AAT Kings and showcases WA wildlife to Sydney

Rumours are that part of the collaboration deal is that the AAT execs all get free camel rides whenever they want, which we completely understand.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Humans of Antarctica

Travel Weekly joined Aurora Expeditions for an Antarctic circle expedition and met some amazing travellers who waited over two years for the adventure.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Flight Centre scores whopping government contract

Work for Flight Centre? Your tax dollars could now be contributing to your own salary, according to our vague understanding of the ATO.

Share

CommentComments