It says that one trend to look out for is AI, which is increasingly prevalent in travel booking and is growing in importance in the context of smart travel; for example, being able to identify the needs and preferences of travellers. It also highlights smart data as a notable trend, with startups harnessing its capabilities in relation to flight itineraries, shopping behavior, accommodation preferences and spending habits. “By plugging this data into machine learning frameworks and creating neural networks, travel companies can provide a personalised user experience, strive for cheaper customer acquisition, and focus on increasing traveller loyalty,” OAG states.
OAG also pointed out that smartphones are being widely capitalised on by travel companies to deliver a personal touch. Travellers are using their smartphones to access digital media, social networks and messaging platforms, which provides opportunities for travel startups to engage with them.
When it comes to startups to watch in 2020, OAG cites airline manufacturer startup Exosonic, which is prototyping a Mach 1.8 60-seater supersonic passenger aircraft that can fly at supersonic speeds overland and overwater with a muted sonic boom. It also mentioned Claire, an AI-chatbot-based booking engine solution for travel management companies that suggests personalised itineraries and travel options to the agent and, in the absence of an agent, can chat with travellers across a variety of platforms.
Mystify is another startup on OAG’s list; a global airfare marketplace, it enables travel companies to procure the lowest airfares. A new solution, OnePoint C2, delivers automated air ticket changes and cancellations solutions and is aimed to reduce human intervention, reconciliation time, errors and bring transparency.
Another startup to watch is TroopTravel, which harnesses big data to optimise meetings and events planning. “It recommends destinations to corporates based on varied data points such as travel costs, ease of travel, travel time, meal caps, security, visa requirements, carbon footprint, company travel policy, and so on. By using big data extensively, TroopTravel allows event managers to make informed decisions when planning and booking for corporate group travels, meetings and events,” OAG explains.
OAG’s list also includes Setoo, which delivers insurance and protection as a service platform, aimed at travel distributors. Last year, Setoo Co-CEO Eyal Gluska wrote a piece for ITIJ discussing how insurers should see the evolving consumer landscape as an opportunity for innovation.
Additional startups on OAG’s list are: Pilota, flyinn, kiwi.com, Pack Up + Go, Timeshifter, SnapTravel, Stasher, Nannybag, Fly Money and Gamitee. There is no doubt that this will be an exciting and disruptive year for the global travel industry.