By Matt James | The best thing about my job as Senior Manager, Corporate Strategy and Business Development in Asia Pacific for Amadeus – the leading provider of IT solutions to the global tourism and travel industry – is discovering exciting and innovative ideas that will change and shape the future of travel.
From concepts founded in High Accuracy Geolocation technology, to AI and Chatbots and now we are seeing a trend in startups moving towards sustainable travel and tourism, there certainly isn’t a shortage of good ideas!
Amadeus Next launched in 2015 as an initiative to help build and foster the cutting-edge TravelTech startup community in Asia Pacific. We work closely with entrepreneurs to help ignite and advance their ideas. With the support of Amadeus and our trusted partners, we help create an environment in which startups can grow. Because even as a huge global company, we recognize that we cannot do it all on our own.
So what is in it for startups? How do we help? Once part of Amadeus Next, startups have access to Amadeus’ tech to build their MVPs, our in-house experts to gain knowledge on how the travel domain works, and of course Amadeus’ customers to validate their products. We also connect startups to venture capital around the world if they are in need of funding. To date, Amadeus is working with 33 startups in the program and more than 70 active partners.
As you know, airports are busy places. IATA reported 4 billion air passengers for 2017, and expects that to reach nearly eight billion by 2036. With this many people comes a whole array of issues such as congestion, which leads to severe delays. Startups are ideally placed to help airports solve some of these issues.
In Hong Kong, we are working with the startup Ubudu (Ubudu.com) that recently launched a technology based on Ultra Wideband and Bluetooth 5 (BLE) to track the real-time location of physical things in large venues. This technology could help airports better understand the usage of assets such as luggage trolleys, ensuring that they are available according to passenger traffic in different zones of the airport. Staff could automatically receive alerts when trolley numbers are low to ensure efficient replenishment.
We see High Accuracy Geolocation technology being used increasingly in the airport environment helping travelers navigate through the airport, but also being leveraged by the airport to have a greater understanding of their operations therefore improving their efficiency.
The start of 2018 saw Amadeus launch a pilot for travel agents in Thailand – @flightbot on LINE.me. This latest flight search innovation leverages artificial intelligence (AI), messaging technology and Amadeus’ search expertise to help travel agencies connect with travelers any time, anywhere via the LINE messaging platform.
The use of mobile messaging has been on the rise among travelers, according to ARK-Invest.com, with six out of the Top 10 most used mobile apps being messaging apps (rising to 8/10 if social apps are included).
To cater to the ever-growing market demand and the digitally savvy traveler, Amadeus developed an AI-powered bot in partnership with Amadeus Next startup GoHero.ai. Designed to mimic human conversation, @flightbot is a user-friendly platform that helps travel agents keep up with travelers’ demands for information and options in real-time. Users on LINE can search for and befriend @flightbot via the messaging platform, chat privately with the bot and receive assistance for any flight-related queries.
As a bot, @flightbot will be in constant learning mode and its capabilities will develop over time. Throughout the test period, the bot will address queries related to air travel bookings, departure city and destination, and flights with the best prices, in English or Thai.
Ultimately, thanks to AI, @flightbot can become the perfect travel companion for travelers, providing round-the-clock conversational replies that can meet the personalized needs of travelers promptly and efficiently.
This year also sees us broadening our perimeters by entering into new industries, some of these new collaborations include CarePod, Global Himalayan Expedition, HeyCars and Qiantech.
∙ Through CarePod (care-pod.com), new enterprise solutions are created to boost airline ancillaries, seeking to improve the experiences of ‘pet owner’ passengers and their pets throughout the entire air travel process.
∙ Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE.co.in) is the latest to join the Next program. This social enterprise is focused on providing energy, education, connectivity and livelihood access to remote Himalayan villages.
∙ HeyCars.com is a Chinese startup making airport transfers easy. Book online and get picked up from the airport terminal – simple!
∙ Qiantech (Lixiaoqian.cn) is the latest startup using AR to help tourists have an immersive experience when visiting attractions, historical and cultural sites.
We look forward to discovering more TravelTech startups in Asia Pacific and working with them to make travel experiences even better in future.
About The Author
Based in Bangkok, Matt’s role is to look outside of Amadeus and identify companies in Asia Pacific that use the latest technology and leading solutions that Amadeus could look to collaborate with to enhance the travel experience. Originally from the UK, Matt started his career in the travel industry in London before moving to work for an online travel agency in Australia. Matt joined Amadeus in 2005 and has been in the Corporate Strategy team for the past eight years.