The travel industry is changing rapidly. In years gone by, our bookings for flights, hotels, rental cars and even tours were all done through travel agents. Today we do virtually all of the planning ourselves.
According to experts in the travel industry, though, this is just the start.
“It’s going to be totally different in every respect,” said Adir Ron, strategic innovation lead at Microsoft, speaking at the recent FuTurism.com innovation conference held in Tel Aviv to coincide with the 21st International Mediterranean Tourism Market (IMTM 2015) this month.
“We will continue to travel, to walk, to visit places, but the industry itself will be totally changed and technology will drive this rapid change.”
At the heart of this change are the mobile phone and the Internet of things (IoT), which will help travelers personalize their trips and become self-service tourists.
“Your phone is thinner than any travel book and has more information inside than any travel agent can hope to provide,” said Noam Ben-Haim, senior product manager at Google Travel. “People will stop going to Lonely Planet. Instead my phone will know that I like to go to fringe galleries, for instance, and will recommend them. I will experience the city in a totally different way than other people would.”
This year’s IMTM, one of the key annual events for Israel’s growing tourism industry, was the largest exhibition to date, attracting 24,000 visitors, many from abroad. Forty countries exhibited at the show, which included the one-day FuTurism conference.
Amongst the participants at the event were Israeli startups like Get Taxi , Moovit, EatWith and Wix Hotels, which are already making a significant name for themselves in the travel field. The exhibition also hosted a Digital Travel Dome for emerging startups.
ISRAEL21c takes a look at some of the best new technologies on show at the event.
Shopnfly allows travelers to do their duty-free shopping before they leave home. According to CEO Guy Gaash, shopping accounts for some 20 percent of our travel expenditures today. The company’s platform allows users to browse duty-free shops along their travel route, compare prices and deals, and order items ranging from alcohol to sweets, toys, souvenirs and beauty goods to be delivered to the terminal of their choice for easy pickup.
“For shoppers, this saves money and time,” said Gaash. “For retailers, it’s a new distribution channel.”
The company, which in January partnered with Israeli carrier El Al, won first prize out of 42 entrants in the Tel Aviv-Yafo Mayor’s Digital Travel Award, which was announced at the FuTurism conference. On February 17, Shopnfly tied for first place in the MasterCard Start Path Pitch Expo in Tel Aviv, and will compete in the finals for Start Path Europe in March.
The company also has a partnership agreement with US services provider Concur, enabling its 25 million business travelers to shop ahead of a flight.
Architip is an advanced augmented-reality app for heritage sites that allows smartphoneusers to see the historical structures as they once were.
The company’s core offering is based on patent-pending libraries of augmented-reality software. These libraries allow the creation of real-time, on-site virtual restoration of historical structures, art and exhibits.
The technologywas developed by a team of entrepreneurs, tech innovators and archaeologists. Users point their phone at a building, a mosaic or an artwork, and the ancient structure or work will appear in all its original glory.
Architip CEOYaron Benvenisti got the idea for the technology on a visit to a museum after reading about Google Glass.
Now in the middle of a successful Kickstarter campaign, Campanion has developed a mounting plate that will enable you to combine your GoPro camera with your smartphone.
According to company founder Amos Fridlin, founder of the website iTravelJerusalem.com, GoPro isthe bestselling camera around the world. Designed originally for extreme sports, it is now being used increasingly as a regular camera. The problem, however, is that you can’t see the pictures you’re taking with a GoPro unless you use it with a smartphone, which keeps both hands occupied at the same time.
Campanion’s mounting plate puts the GoPro and phone together as one device. Four days after launching its Kickstarter campaign, the company had already raised its $28,000 goal.
Ra’anana-based VocalReferences has developed an app that allows businesses to easily capture, display and share customer testimonials in video, audio and text format. The tool simplifies the process of recording testimonials and maximizes their marketing value by displaying them on their site and social-media accounts.
In November last year, VocalReferences signed an agreement with Yahoo! making the technology available to the search giant’s millions of users. Founded by David Wenner and David Barth, the company is also working with Wix and Jimdo.
GetBus is an online platform that makes it easy for individuals, institutions, travel agents or event organizers to book private-hire buses and minibuses for travel and events. At present to book a bus for an event, organizers need to phone bus companies and fax details of their trip in order to receive a price quote.
GetBus streamlines the process so that users need only go to the website and fill in details of the trip to receive an immediate price quote. Booking can be done there and then on the site, which is only in Hebrew at this point.
Tel Aviv-based iBookIsrael is an online portal where you can book more than 150 tours and activities, from Segway tours to jeep trips to walking tours throughout Israel.
The site offers visitors ideas of things to do and places to visit. Those looking for privatelyguided tours can choose and book their best-fitting tour guide online out of more than 200 guide profiles.
The company is the booking platform for El Al, El AlsubsidiaryUp, and Go.Jerusalem.com.
Traveloo is a personal tip book for travelers that can be shared easily with friends on the go. While there are many guidebooks and websites full of tips, the best tips often come from friends and fellow travelers.
The idea for the app came during a trip to Nepal. Users can receive tips from people they meet along the way, and share their own tips of where to go and what to do.
Due to unpredictable demand in the hospitality industry, hosts and property managers sometimes must turn awayguests because they don’t have room. Roomixeraims to change all that with an online marketplace where hosts can earn a commission (and extend an additional courtesy) by referringrejected gueststo another participating establishment.
The company, which won third prize in the Tel Aviv-Yafo mayor’s Digital Travel Award, was founded by Liran Jakob Rosenfeld and Salick Cogan.
“We allow property managers to monetize their turned-away guests,” Rosenfeld told the audience at the FuTurism conference. “Property managers can offer new options for people even when they don’t have room.”