It always feels like summer when I visit Tel Aviv. Thoughts of the city fills me with images of iced coffees, fresh fruits and sun glasses. But it was only when I visited in June this year that I made it to the beach for the first time. That’s when I attended the annual overseas conference of the Institute of Travel and Tourism (ITT), which took place at the Hilton Tel Aviv, right next to the promenade in this coastal city.
My job requires me to visit Tel Aviv often. You see, I’m the Head of Amadeus Ventures, a programme to make strategic, minority investments in start-up companies that are relevant to global travel. Many people probably don’t realize that Israel has made huge progress in recent years as a centre of innovation. It ranks number one* in terms of per capita Venture Capital investment and if measured by the number of start-ups, it ranks second only to California’s Silicon Valley. That’s why it has become a go-to hub for professionals, like me, who are looking for transformational business ideas and the latest technology applications.
During this visit, I had the opportunity to share my experiences in working with travel start-ups to the more than 300 delegates from the UK travel industry. Travel is one of the industries that has been most disrupted by new technology, especially following the mainstream adoption of the internet and e-commerce. Arguably, almost all emerging technologies have an impact on travel. Here’s just a few examples:
- The ability to convey indescribable travel experiences by means of the immersive experience of virtual reality that you can see, hear and touch;
- The collaborative economy introducing fresh ways to access and consume a broader mix of travel content often with a ‘living like a local’ flavour;
- Complexity in travel shopping is driving the latest techniques in data analytics, which promise to provide highly personalised service offerings to both business and leisure travelers.
Tuning in to fresh ideas and applications
Amadeus Ventures is our way of becoming attuned to the progress of these new ideas and technology. It’s the means by which we’re able to provide the funding, pilot customers and industry expertise to start-ups who join our programme.
It was my pleasure to have the opportunity to meet with the movers and shakers of the UK travel industry. During the conference, I heard stories of delivering exceptional service and value to travellers, as well as how the industry is working with communities on important topics like eco-tourism.
It was a privilege to immerse oneself in the historic cities of Israel, while contemplating the future of travel. After all, the future owes a lot to the people and ideas that pave the way for progress. I left the conference feeling even more convinced that Amadeus is doing the right thing by investing in and learning from tech-savvy travel start-ups. And we will continue to draw on those learnings when developing technology for the most influential travel community in the world – our customers.
*Source – Startup Nations Central