Technology drives change in almost all aspects of our lives, including travel. At Cirium, we are proud of our track record of innovation and it’s our passion for discovery that has put us at the forefront of creating best-in-class data and analytics for the travel industry.
But the best innovations are rarely created without collaboration, which is why we chose to sponsor the IATA AIR Hackathons. The whole industry benefits when we make our rich data, APIs and solutions available to creative people looking to solve untapped travel challenges. You never know what might come of it.
Recently, our team attended the IATA Air Hackathon in Seattle. You can watch the video from the event:
The main theme of these hackathons is to improve the leisure and business travel passenger experience through dynamic offers using any New Distribution Capability (NDC) API. The aim of NDC is to address the industry’s current distribution limitations and transform the way air products are retailed to corporations, leisure and business travelers. The prompt is open-ended enough that it allows competing teams to come up with any number of ideas, from an application that enables travelers to discover and order from airport food vendors while on-the-go to a solution that assists parents in tracking and staying in touch with their unaccompanied minors.
But what makes an idea “good” when it comes to travel innovation? When thinking about a concept for a new solution, what should be kept in mind?
Five of our product experts offer their advice on how to strike innovation gold when trying to solve problems in the travel industry:
Tip #1: Do something you care about
“I think it starts with identifying a problem that you feel completely passionate about solving. Just having an idea is not enough; you need the passion to get you to the finish line and the patience to test different ideas along the way until you find success. Your passion should shine through in your presentations at hackathons or to investors. It can be contagious.”
Tip #2: Don’t rely too much on the “cool factor”
“As a product guy, for something to qualify as ‘brilliant travel tech’, it has to be both innovative and useful. In my career, I’ve seen plenty of cool ideas that weren’t successful products because, at the end of the day, they didn’t improve the experience for the user and ultimately were not adopted. Therefore, I like to start with the user point of view—putting myself in their shoes. Ask yourself some key questions: What is their experience like today? Are there obvious pain points along the way? How can I save them time or money? Answer these questions and then test your assumptions along each step of the way.”
Tip #3: Think about the future as much as the present
“When working to create applications focused on improving the leisure and business traveler experience, two things you should keep in mind. First, ensure that applications bring value to the traveler. Understanding what is important and what is not can help drive success as a new market entrant. The other thing to keep in mind is flexibility. In an ever-changing landscape of new technology, new apps, and new companies, the travel industry is constantly evolving. Creating a solution to a problem will only garner success for a limited time, while focusing on the evolution of a service can address new problems before they can manifest in the marketplace. Be flexible and make value to your customer a priority.”
Tip #4: Trust your perspective
“There has to be a better way. Those words are the birthplace of many great product innovations. And innovation often comes from a fresh pair of eyes looking at a problem in a new way.
Much of the innovation of the past 20 years in travel has been focused on simplifying the booking process and making it more efficient. We’ve made a ton of progress in that area. But a successful and enjoyable trip is much more than easily booking travel at the lowest price.
I believe that some of the biggest innovation opportunities in travel will be in managing the travel experience after booking. A friend of mine recently spent 30 minutes on hold with his travel management company (TMC) after the airline cancelled his flight the night before departure and re-booked him on a flight that was too late for his business appointment. He did not come away from that experience with a positive impression of either the airline or his TMC.
Finding and understanding the pain points of travelers and other stakeholders in the travel process and creatively applying the mountains of data collected throughout the travel ecosystem will yield the next great travel product innovation.”
Tip #5: You don’t always have to come up with something new
“The beauty of evolving travel technology today, beyond working toward industry standards such as NDC, is ‘demystifying’ the once considered ‘voodoo’ of the industry. For example, round-trip tickets or point-to-point fares are a cinch with online booking, but for the road warrior or hardcore adventurer, around-the-world fares, circle-the-Pacific fares and the like are still not easily obtained without human involvement. Sometimes it’s not about re-inventing the wheel; it’s about re-engineering it and making it better. I don’t have a wagon wheel on my car… do you?”
With consumers hungrier than ever for luxury of choice and personalization, data-powered innovation will only continue to grow in air travel. However, there are still complex, multi-faceted data problems holding the industry back from digital innovation. Download our latest whitepaper if you’re interested in learning various strategies for tackling these challenges.
If you already have a brilliant idea for a travel solution that you’re eager to execute on, we have the data services to support you on our Developer Center.
The next IATA Air Hackathon is October 11-13 in in Frankfurt, Germany. We hope to see you there!