TRAVEL TECH COMPANIES TO WATCH

It is an exciting time to be in the travel and meetings industry

While the space has always been dynamic, today’s tech companies are driving our industry forward making it smarter, safer, and more connected than ever before.
Travellers can now access tools that give them more power and help them navigate a fragmented space with an overwhelming amount of information.

Here are five tech companies on my radar right now:

Airhelp: Cancelled or delayed flight? You could be entitled to up to $680, but don’t think the airline will tell you. Enter Airhelp. This tech startup has vowed to hold airlines accountable by helping travelers who don’t know their rights, lack the time, or lack the expertise to file a claim on their own. Airhelp handles all the legal paperwork for you and only gets paid if your claim is successful.

Wayblazer: Remember IBM’s Watson, the first computer to beat the world’s most accomplished chess player? Well, he’s back and helping travellers make better and faster decisions. WayBlazer’s IBM-powered artificial intelligence (AI) analyzes cues and triggers from the traveler’s search to provide personalized travel or hotel recommendations. The technology is being incorporated into voice activated apps to offer suggestions that take into account individual preferences, time of day, weather, and even recent media coverage.

Skyroam: It won’t be long until a Wi-Fi signal is available wherever you land. Unfortunately, we just aren’t there yet. Depending on where you’re travelling (and which wireless provider you use) remaining connected can be technologically difficult or ridiculously expensive. Skyroam’s Wi-Fi hotspot offers secure mobile internet in more than 100 countries. Rent or buy the compact device, then purchase the number of days of service you need. No more surprise bills when you get home.

Airmule: Airlines allow you to check two pieces of luggage on international flights; most people don’t. With Airmule, you can monetize your excess luggage allowance by bringing a package that needs to get from where you are now to your destination. By doing so, you could even cover the entire cost of your flight. I know what you are thinking; ‘that package could be filled with anything’. Not to worry, the packages are already TSA checked and approved for transit so there is no chance you’ll become an inadvertent drug smuggler.

UBER: While Uber may not sound new or emerging, with scheduled plans to have fully autonomous vehicles deployed by 2021, the company remains one to watch. Beyond its current impact on taxis and limos, it is poised to disrupt sectors from parking to insurance. They’re also focusing on enhancing custom experiences for passengers. Not only can your pre-select your preferred ride, but also your preferred music, vehicle temperature and more. Uber also bought Otto – a company that’s producing self-driving freight trucks. Their first delivery? 50,000 cans of beer.

Cheers to the Future

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Jeff Duncan is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Meetingmax, the largest provider of online group housing reservation technology in Canada. Meetingmax’s software is used by travel organizations in dozens of North American destinations and by organizers of high profile events including South by Southwest, TED Conferences, Cisco Live, and Oracle OpenWorld. Meetingmax’s user conference, Unconvention The Unconvention, takes an unconventional approach to your typical conference. Meetingmax.cc