NEW YORK - Global luxury travel network Virtuoso continues to seek out and support the globe’s most compelling travel technology startups by opening space for new applicants in its 2020 Incubator program. Marking its fifth anniversary, Virtuoso Incubator helps emerging companies bolster their offerings to enhance travel advisor productivity and client service. Still unique in the field, the innovative initiative fills a critical market need and provides the network’s travel agency members with a competitive advantage, offering them custom tech solutions to better focus on the client’s needs.
Virtuoso’s 2020 Incubator program is looking for companies focusing on advisor productivity tools, travel industry-specific client communication and marketing products and invoicing tools. Startups can express their interest here. The deadline for applications is January 15, 2020.
Through Virtuoso Incubator, travel technology developers receive real-world insights from its professional travel advisors, offering a unique perspective from their target audience for their products. With this input, Incubator companies refine their tools to better meet market needs. A Virtuoso survey of participants found that they would recommend the program to other travel tech startups. They also reported that the program helped them finesse their product. In addition, the survey found that the companies gained valuable knowledge about the travel industry as a result of the program.
Almost 90 advisors from more than 70 member agencies took part in the 2019 Incubator program, assessing solutions and offering input for improvements. Supporting the program’s value for advisors, all of this year’s testers report that they would like to participate again in 2020. As well, they would recommend that a fellow advisor also test products as part of the program. In a Virtuoso survey, network agencies reported that Incubator tools help them be more productive, serve clients better, satisfy business needs and keep them competitive.
An Incubator company is eligible for full Virtuoso partnership once its trial period ends. This year Virtuoso has elevated two former participants to preferred partner status:
Approach Guides, whose Trip Reads destination content service - featuring inspirational videos, articles, books and podcasts - has been integrated into Virtuoso Wanderlist.
ZoomandGo, a map-based hotel reservation and analytics tool to facilitate booking via the GDS, increasing advisor productivity and sales.
“In only five years, Virtuoso Incubator has significantly moved the bar not only for our advisors but also for the travel industry at large,” said David Kolner, senior vice president, Global Member Partnerships at Virtuoso. “Our member agencies are telling us that the tools we’ve nurtured through Incubator have boosted their productivity, client service and ability to compete. And our Incubator companies say the advisor feedback they receive has played a role in improving their products. That feedback means Incubator is fulfilling our vision to foster promising technology and provide an array of options for our advisors rather than prescribing any one tech solution for these varied businesses.”
Travel startups saw record levels of investment in 2018, reaching (U.S.) $5.7 billion, according to Phocuswright. Virtuoso has established itself as an active force in the industry, hosting a Technology Innovation Summit for the first time at Virtuoso Travel Week to explore future developments in the short and long term. The summit was co-hosted by Virtuoso and travel industry startup club VoyagerHQ, who work together to advance the travel technology space. The network also facilitates direct relationships with dedicated incubators, accelerators and investment divisions.