NEW YORK – Virtuoso, a global advisor network that specializes in luxury and experiential travel, has selected five emerging travel technology companies to take part in its Incubator program for 2017. The program focuses on nurturing new technology solutions specifically for travel advisors.
The Virtuoso Incubator selects tech companies, helps them refine and iterate their product, and then provides its affiliated travel advisors with tools to improve client service and efficiencies to drive a competitive edge. This year, Virtuoso 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.
Through the program, the incubator companies receive real-world input from a panel of Virtuoso advisors who test the product and suggest improvements so it will better serve the needs of travel agencies, consultants and clients. More than 60 advisor volunteer in this capacity, with a member of Virtuoso’s Technology Committee acting as each panel’s liaison to the Incubator program. 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.