With smartphones at our fingertips and WiFi in the sky, travelling has never been easier. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. Whether it’s creating a more seamless check-in process or building a better way to plan a trip, there will always be ways to innovate in the travel industry.
British Airways and Founders Forum have partnered up to host Pitch on a Plane, a competition for start-ups that are building innovative technology solutions or services which have the potential to transform customers’ travel experiences. The Founders Forum network brings together digital entrepreneurs, corporate CEOs and senior investors who engage in open debate, brainstorming, discussion and problem solving at invite-only forums across the world.
From all of the applicants, 12 were chosen to present to a panel of judges at British Airways’ headquarters in London and five were chosen to move on to the semifinals. These five semifinalists will pitch to judges in real time as they fly from San Francisco to London for the finals – utilising the on-board WiFi.
Read on below to learn more about the five startups that made the cut and how they want to change the way we travel
Pruvo’s aim is to save you money even after you’ve already booked a hotel room. With the current process, you email your hotel reservation to Pruvo who will then set up a custom search that scours the major booking sites around the world and monitors if your specific booking goes down in price. If so, Pruvo will send you a notification to cancel the booking you’ve already made and to rebook at the cheaper price. One important note, this service only works with reservations that have free cancellation policies.
Tribd is an app that connects solo travellers who are seeking adventure sports experiences. The app aims to help you find your tribe (hence the name) before you travel so you can plan a trip together, or connect ahead of a trip, and meet up at your final destination.
You can download Tribd for iOS in the App Store (it isn’t available for Android yet), then login using Facebook to create your profile and set up your travel preferences. Tribd will then show you prospective fellow travelers with plans and interests that match yours and will even give you a compatibility score. A lá Tinder you swipe right to connect, and if they’ve also swiped right then you’ll be matched up and you can start planning your next big travel adventure.
Pluto is the self-proclaimed insurance app for those who hate insurance, and is primarily marketed to millennial travellers. They know that millennial travellers either don’t trust insurers, don’t really think they need insurance, or just can’t be bothered with all of the small print – so they’ve set out to find a solution. The app makes policies that are tailored to each individual traveller and allows you to build a personalised policy in as little as 3 minutes – with instant price changes based on what you choose. And to top it all off, with every policy they sell they donate £1 to a charity that reduces the negative impact of tourism on the environment and local communities.
Now it’s time to get a little more technical. REYNOLDS is a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) gas turbine design bureau and manufacturer. Their first product is a called R500 and it’s a 50kg turbojet engine for fixed-wing aircrafts with MTOW (maximum take-off weight) of more than 100kg as well as hover platforms. For jet engine newbs, MTOW is the heaviest weight at which an aircraft has been shown to meet all the ‘airworthiness’ requirements applicable to it. The R500 is set to increase the minor overhaul period of UAVs to more than 300 hours and lower fuel consumption as compared to other small-scale engines.
Winding Tree is an open-source distribution ecosystem of hotel and airline inventory using blockchain technology. The current travel landscape is dominated by a few large booking sites, your Expedia and Booking.coms of the world, that make it difficult for new companies to break into the market — and take a big chunk of the sales in the process. Winding Tree is a decentralized infrastructure that allows companies to manage their distribution directly (thus avoiding intermediaries) as well as control their own data and maintains a real-time overview of bookings and inventory availability.