HBX Group, a B2B TravelTech ecosystem player, Wayra, Telefónica's leading open innovation program, and the NYU School of Professional Studies (NYU SPS) Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality have joined forces to launch the second TravelTech Lab by HBX Group innovation challenge to redesign the future of travel.
The companies are calling on startups around the world, as well as affiliated students, to submit ideas on how emerging augmented technologies, such as virtual reality and the metaverse, can be adopted in the B2B travel arena to improve operational efficiencies and remove friction from the end traveler experience to create more enjoyable trips from the time they book to when they return home.
José María Pestaña, chief innovation officer at HBX Group, said: “Bringing our innovation partners and the startup community together is a unique opportunity for us all to not only learn and share ideas, but provide a platform to bring about real change in the TravelTech arena. I’m excited to see what ideas are put forward and how we will be able to implement these to not only improve our tech capabilities but also inspire future trips for the traveller of tomorrow.”
This second TravelTech Lab challenge comes months after the inaugural contest and just eight months after the launch of the innovation hub, which is based at HBX Group’s headquarters in Palma, Mallorca (Spain). The first event attracted submissions from 65 startups from across the world including South Africa, Colombia and Spain. Of these, HBX Group is now collaborating with the three finalists.
Startups selected to join the TravelTech Lab by HBX Group will not only be given expert advice and guidance from industry experts, but they will also join Wayra's innovation ecosystem and work directly with HBX Group’s teams to develop collaboration opportunities. There is also a grant of up to €40,000 available from HBX Group to help bring their idea to life. All startups will be able to work with other like-minded entrepreneurs at Wayra’s 7 hubs in Europe and Latin America, as well as at HBX Group’s hubs in Mallorca and Madrid.
“It is a privilege for Wayra to strengthen our alliance and commitment with HBX Group- to make available all our knowledge of the international entrepreneurial ecosystem, and to promote technological evolution in the travel sector. It is a key element of our economy, as tourism is one of the most important engines of our country and corresponds to 20% of Spanish GDP,” said Andrés Saborido, managing director, Wayra.
In further support of the challenge, NYU SPS hosted a students' hackathon, collaborating with industry professionals chosen from HBX Group’s partners in the U.S. to refine their solutions and gain a deeper understanding of current pain points within the hospitality sector. The response was very positive, with 26 students taking part.
“The TravelTech sector is growing every day,” said Richie Karaburun, MBA, DPS, clinical associate professor and Director of the Tisch Center’s HI Hub Incubator Program. “We look forward to working with HBX Group and Wayra on this challenge to find the next augmented technology innovator who can help change and evolve our industry to create better travel experiences worldwide.”