Virtuoso®, the global advisor network specializing in luxury and experiential travel, has selected five promising travel technology companies to take part in its innovative Incubator programme for 2017. As the industry’s first formal programme focused on nurturing new technology solutions specifically for travel advisors, Virtuoso Incubator researches emerging tech companies, then helps them refine and iterate their product.
Virtuoso aims to provide its affiliated travel advisors with tools tailored to their needs, leading to improved client service and efficiencies that drive a competitive edge. Virtuoso was highly selective in accepting this year’s participants, as it received applications from more than 60 companies. The strong interest is indicative of a rapidly growing travel technology sector, which saw corporate investment deals reach a five-year high of $3 billion in 2016.
Incubator companies receive invaluable real-world input from Virtuoso advisors who test the product and suggest improvements so it will better serve the needs of travel agencies, consultants and clients. Each company receives a dedicated panel composed of Virtuoso advisors. More than 60 of them are volunteering in this capacity, with a member of Virtuoso’s Technology Committee acting as each panel’s liaison to the Incubator programme. The Technology Committee also assists with vetting applicants and approving the companies that are offered Virtuoso preferred partner status.
“Virtuoso Incubator was founded to fill a void in the travel advising industry,” said David Kolner, senior vice president, Global Member Partnerships at Virtuoso. “Our objective was to seek out business solutions for our travel agency members and create a real-life use case scenario for companies that were developing the technology we needed. The value to these tech companies is tremendous because we’re giving them access to their future customers, who are also providing feedback in real time. What we’re getting in return is the opportunity to create customized technology options for agencies ranging from just a couple of people to hundreds.”
This year’s participants are:
• Approach Guides: Its Trip Reads destination content service — featuring inspirational and thought-provoking videos, articles, books and podcasts — highlights cultural aspects of places around the world.
• TravelContact (formerly Alanna): A CRM technology that includes a client and provider database, email and newsletter marketing platform, smart multichannel communication, beginning-to-end trip builder, interactive client portal and a smart dashboard where advisors can see daily tasks.
• Tagible: Software that extracts keywords, making the words interactive and overlaying curated content such as YouTube, Google Maps and Pinterest. Drives engagement and increase conversion rate and time on site by keeping visitors on the agency’s website.
• tripFiles: A free private social network where travelers can store all their videos and photos at no charge, safely share trips, and never need to email/text photos to their travel companions.
• Xlpr VR: An app-based virtual reality platform tailored for the travel industry. It guides users on an immersive, emotionally engaging journey through a destination, leading to dramatically increased sales conversion rates and foot traffic. In addition, it educates advisors on destinations.
Virtuoso Incubator’s new partnership with Phocuswright, the global travel market research company, is further enriching the network’s leadership in the space. Phocuswright is referring innovative travel technology startups to the programme, and sharing its research into the sector with Virtuoso as well as attendees at its exclusive network events.