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by Chris Apaliski
We’re passionate about technology and innovation in the travel sphere. Yearly, we orchestrate Destination Hack, our global hackathon. This event brings together some of the world’s brightest minds with a common goal: to reinvent travel. This fall, we took Destination Hack to Singapore. Over 150 developers, designers and entrepreneurs gathered together to compete for the $10,000 grand prize, network, share their expertise with one another and of course to enjoy a weekend at the world’s premiere travel hackathon.
Our opening night party and networking session was held at The Loof, one of Singapore’s top rooftop bars. A great time was had and roughly half of the teams formed or combined during this event. (How cool is that?) This lead to the perfect scenario the next morning at Impact Hub: Singapore, our chosen venue for the hack. After opening presentations from Sabre, GIATA, Expedia, and Twilio, we started the timeclock and watched the devs get to work at a feverish pace.
One of the most intriguing and fun aspects of a hackathon is watching ideas transform from sketches on a whiteboard to full blown working prototypes. Everyone has a different solution or approach and as developers coded long into the night, various solutions began to emerge, including:
- New Sabre Red Workspace Widgets
- Inspirational Shopping
- Mobile Solutions
- Chrome Extensions
- Travel Disruption
- Bleisure Travel
- Tripcase Integration
- Social Media Integration
Such variety within projects is indicative of not only trends in technology but also showcases various schools of thought to solve problems for travelers. For example, there’s been a lot of chatter recently heralding chatbots as the next big innovation in travel tech. It was of no great surprise that a good portion of the projects created utilized some sort of chatbot component or were solely focused on them with social integration from booking, shopping and beyond.
Many of the apps/widgets/prototypes focused around enhancing the travel experience. Different technologies were used, including Sabre APIs, sponsor APIs (including GIATA, Twilio and Expedia) and various open tech. Some teams took problems such as travel disruption or growing segments/trends of inspirational shopping or bleisure travel and offered new and creative approaches. Learning the psychology behind these themed builds is always interesting. They’re often focused primarily through personal triumphs and failures experienced by group members throughout their travels. These experiences are then turned into real life answers to ensure an easier travel experience for others.
When all was said and done, a clear grand prize winner emerged, into addition to various challenge winners. Moments was named the grand prize winner, creating an overall itinerary management solution that utilizes the decision support bar in the new Sabre Red Workspace. It pulls aggregated events from a variety of sources and then allows the travel agent to suggest activities geared towards customer preferences. Syncing with TripCase, the user then receives these moments within their app to maintain a well-managed travel itinerary.
Moments addresses a customer segment working with a travel agent (often times, concerned with ‘bleisure’ travel) and then follows through on a robust itinerary management system that syncs personal preferences with a mobile solution. It solves multiple needs in the process funnel and makes life easier for the traveler, while enabling travel agents to actively suggest activities and events that may be of interest, given the makeup of their profile. Just brilliant.
After the hackathon briefing, we were challenged as to how to drive our initial concept towards a more B2B solution. We wanted it to fit into Sabre’s travel agent userflow and provide the most value. Talking to Sabre’s development team was really inspiring, especially Alex Meneghello. One, we really felt their enthusiasm in the Sabre Red Workspace, and two, they were really helpful throughout the hackathon. They walked us through how the platform works and they also shared Tripcase, which we also included in the end-to-end use case of our idea.
– Marco Angeles, Moments
Of course, Moments wasn’t the only winner of the hackathon, as there were six other challenge winners. Each winner presented a unique solution that not only provided answers to common travel problems, but also provided new ways to look at travel. After all, as technology advances, so does the way we go about making our plans. The travel landscape is one of the most exciting places to be right now. Check out the winners across the board:
Moments: Grand Prize Winner
As mentioned, this project focused on the Decision Support Bar in the new Sabre Red Workspace. It pushes aggregated events from a variety of sources (Eventbrite, Meetup, Expedia) and enables the travel agent to suggest different moments, thus resulting in additional revenue and loyalty opportunities. It then syncs the data with the user’s TripCase app, resulting in a seamless travel experience.
Best Use of VR: TraveGo
TraveGo is a Virtual Reality application showcases itinerary planning and integrated the TripCase API, then further augments using VR. Using the unity engine (the same engine PokemonGo uses), this app is an excellent way to help a user experience the world around them before embarking on a trip in a new geographic location.
Chatbot Challenge Winner: Chat Planner
Chatbots are all the rage these days, so it was no surprise to see a good percentage of the projects include chatbots. The winner of this challenge, was Chat Planner, a chatbot engine that is native within messaging apps. It identifies travel conversations and then turns them into actions for the traveler. Out of all the chatbots created at the hackathon, we felt this one was the most well rounded and thought through.
Best Use of GIATA APIs: Stranded Flight Solutions
This team, compromised of members from Europe and Asia, won our love and admiration immediately by making their own Destination Hack: Singapore shirts. However, it was Stranded Flight Solutions’ use of the GIATA API was what caught the attention of challenge judge and sponsor Andreas Posmeck, the CEO of GIATA. This creation takes travel disruption to a new level and makes an automated communication flow that keeps passengers up to date on their own microsite and also enables info on additional vouchers and services they may be eligible for.
Best Widget Idea for the new Sabre Red Workspace’s Decision Support Bar
This widget allows travel agents to obtain good insights to their customer base, analyze customer preferences and enables the travel agent to offer a more personalized travel itinerary. As a result, they are also able to upsell other relevant products. The app has two components: a travel agent dashboard and a virtual chatbot assistant. Travelbrain utilizes both Sabre Hotel and Flight APIs as well as the Facebook Messenger API.
Best Widget Idea for New Sabre Red Workspace Panels: CreditCardsOffer
CreditCardsOffer is a widget idea allows travel agents to easily access lists of credit card promotions from airlines, hotels or even car rentals. Utilizing the Sabre Red App SDK, it’s a smart solution for both book travel and ways to make the most of offers and promotions that the traveler might not previously be aware of.
Most likely to Succeed: Flightzilla
This prize, sponsored by DHISCO, was tough to come by, because we saw so many projects created with so much potential. In the end, the winner of this challenge ended up being Flightzilla, which is a chatbot that helps search for flights and enables the user to share flight recommendations with friends and family. Especially useful for anyone booking a group trip, it not only helps ease the booking process, but simplifies the chaos that is often associated with group bookings and travel management.
Different approaches to different problems. Different technologies used. Different apps, widgets, extensions and beyond created. Yet each one was uniquely innovative in their own respective way. Hackathons are incredible ways to not just see global talent, but they’re also incredible ways to showcase just what can be done in the travel sphere. As a leader in this realm, we’re consistently interested to see what can be done with our technology and we’re excited to see so many talented individuals come through and share their passion for creation with us. Stay tuned for details on our next global hackathon (coming soon in 2017). We can’t wait to see you at next year’s Destination Hack.
For a full recap of the event, read our blog on Sabre Insights.