Travolution and IBM hackathon challenges teams to create the next digital travel paradigm

Travolution and IBM hackathon challenges teams to create the next digital travel paradigm

Travolution and IBM will run a virtual hackathon as part of next month’s Start-up Summit being hosted by the global IT giant in London.

We will choose five teams to build some new technology over a 48-hour period ahead of the half-day summit on June 15.

Developers will be tasked with creating technology that improves the way the industry promotes and retails the experience of travelling. See Hack Themes below.

Teams will be given access to IBM’s powerful suite of open-source software and will get access to tech support from IBM for the duration of the hack.

With access to some of the planet’s most powerful cloud-based AI technologies, the hack teams will get the chance to showcase their work at the Start-up Summit.

Lee Hayhurst, Travolution editor, said: “Our hackathon is an amazing opportunity to showcase the innovation and ingenuity that exists in our industry.

“The start-up summit is proving hugely popular with over 90 delegates having registered their interest to attend.

“The summit will culminate with the hackathon lives demos that will demonstrate just what can be achieved in a short timeframe when talent and technology collide.”

The hack will take place on Monday and Tuesday June 11 and 12 ahead of the summit on the June 15.

To register your interest in entering a team in the hack and to request more details email

Hack Theme: Selling the experience – the next digital travel paradigm

Challenge Number 1: The ‘Uberisation’ of the travel search experience

The way consumers search for their perfect trip when they eventually land on a travel website has not really changed in the internet era. Functional up-front form filling, being pushed down pre-determined funnels and narrowing criteria at an early stage in the process is neither inspiring nor fun, in stark contrast to the product being offered. How would Uber sell holidays?

Your challenge is to come up with a new way of searching for product that is as exciting and fulfilling as the product itself. How can AI and other emerging technologies like natural language processing, chatbots or voice search make the experience more akin to speaking to the most knowledgeable human travel salesperson who turns the process of searching for product into an engaging journey of discovery.

Challenge Number 2: Curtailing the path to purchase

The buying cycle in travel is famously long, notoriously complicated and frustratingly inefficient as customers dip in and out of search engines and social media sites as they seek their perfect trip. Depending on what studies you believe consumers can look at up to 40 websites as they move from dreaming to booking and spend months researching during multiple sessions and an increasingly diverse range of devices.

Your challenge is to show how AI can be used to curtail this process by better matchmaking of the customer with product and a more personalised approach to marketing that has a better chance of convincing the customer to put an end to their search and commit to the deal that’s in front of them now.

Challenge Number 3: Personalising the package

Now 70 years old, the package holiday remain extremely popular particularly in Europe’s two biggest outbound markets of the UK and Germany. Indeed, Expedia’s current advertising campaign extols the virtues of creating a full holiday by buying component from one place. But today customers want to feel they’re getting something unique and tailor-made not just a conventional off-the-shelf product.

Your challenge is to demonstrate how technology has the power to enable travel firms to create bespoke, tailored trips that can be offered for sale on digital channels with the sort of sub-second response times required to match any single component provider and demonstrate how great design and functionality can be used to drive customer loyalty.

Challenge Number 4: Next gen merchandising

In travel, maybe more than any other industry, discreet product lines have a high attachment rate to one another. If you’ve bought a flight, you’re likely to need a hotel room, or a transfer or car rental. If you’re travelling for pleasure you’ll be wanting to add tours and attractions, and even holiday essentials like insurance, and what about your sun cream and new board shorts or bikini?

Airlines have led the way in terms of merchandising ancillaries and non-flight product but consumers are looking for the convenience of that one-stop shop and do not really care what type of company they are buying from as long as they trust the brand. Your challenge is to build something that enables travel brands to act more like supermarkets, stack their shelves with core and related product and get that into booking flows to increase conversion and share of wallet.

Challenge Number 5: Be nice – offer advice

The holiday buying decision involves an almost limitless number of factors and details the provider or retailer has no control over but will be expected to provide information and advice on. It’s often not about the price but some nuance specific to that customer. What’s the weather going to be like? How long will it take to walk from the hotel to the beach? What activities are there for kids? Are there local cultural conventions we should be aware of?

Your challenge is to show how technology can be deployed to reassure people who are, by definition, taking themselves out of their comfort zone, by pulling in content that provides the answers to their questions in a timely, intuitive and reassuring way so that it encourages them down the path to purchase, builds trust and ultimately encourages loyalty in the brand.

To register your interest in entering a team in the hack and to request more details email

More: Register your interest in attending the start-up summit

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