Virtuoso has accepted four promising travel technology companies into its 2019 Incubator program, with a focus on tools that enhance efficiency for busy multitasking advisors. A recent poll of Virtuoso agency owners identified improving advisor efficiency through the use of technology as an opportunity and focus for 2019, leading the program to seek out new solutions in this area.
Virtuoso Incubator helps emerging companies refine their products through real-world testing and input from network travel advisors. Each Incubator company receives a panel of advisors who use the tool and propose improvements to better help member agencies, consultants and clients. In 2018, almost 100 advisors from 80 member agencies volunteered, and all indicated they would like to serve on panels again.
Once the trial is over, Incubator companies are considered for full Virtuoso partnership. Former participants who have transitioned have had a significant impact in increasing advisor productivity and sales. A network study found that advisors who use an itinerary management program from Incubator graduates Axus, Travefy or Umapped grew partner revenue by 29%. Advisors who did not use the tools only realised an 8% rise.
“When we started Virtuoso Incubator four years ago, we were an industry pioneer,” said David Kolner, Senior Vice President, Global Member Partnerships at Virtuoso.
“We saw a critical need to bridge the gap between travel technology startups and the advisors who could benefit from their products. Incubator has been invaluable in giving our advisors a competitive edge by boosting their tech savvy as well as giving them a choice in selecting the tech solutions that best meet their individual needs.
“At Virtuoso, we’re always striving for the win-win, and Incubator does just that by helping travel tech companies realise their promise while also automating some aspects of the travel planning process to allow advisors to do what they do best: service and wow their clients,” Kolner said.
The 2019 Virtuoso Incubator participants are:
Groupdesk: Group travel software that moves inventory management, registration and payments, into traveller self-serviced online portals and sites. Groupdesk automates time-consuming administration for advisors while removing many potentially error-prone steps.
Trips.app: A platform enabling advisors to create a beautifully designed website with a collaborative itinerary planner. Advisors and partners can craft unique itineraries quickly and collaboratively, market and sell inventory, securely process payments and track commissions.
Emadri: A tool that generates relevant, shoppable packing and experience recommendations for travellers through technology that companies can plug into, automatically serving clients with personalised suggestions to improve their travel experience.
SION: A user-friendly platform that streamlines payment, management, and receipt of commissions by helping advisors organise bookings and track open invoices.
As the top goal of Virtuoso members this year is to improve efficiency, three members of the 2019 Incubator class focus on agency operation and performance solutions. Another priority, diversifying the business mix, is addressed through Emadri’s ecommerce personalisation focus.
Virtuoso selected the four participants from a field of 62 applicants. The strong positive response to Incubator comes as travel venture funding reached record levels in 2018, with $7.5 billion invested (source: Skift). One goal of the program is to encourage diversity, and this year’s participants include two companies co-founded by women (Emadri and Trips.app) as well as a company based in Canada (Groupdesk).
As an industry leader, Virtuoso Incubator gives back to the startup ecosystem through mentorship, product refinement and partnership opportunities. The program is affiliated with Voyager HQ, the startup club for the travel industry, to identify emerging trends and potential participants.
Virtuoso Incubator is always accepting applications from superior travel technology innovators. Start-ups can contact the program at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, visit www.virtuoso.com/incubator