Fledgling travel brands were urged by an expert panel to put product before technology – but to quickly embrace the latter.
Jono Vernon-Powell, founder of Nomadic Thoughts, said start-up brands needed to remember that travel had “the best product on the planet” that should always come first. When it came to technology, he advised: “You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, lean on what is out there.”
Josh Ryan-Saha, director, Traveltech for Scotland, which advises tourism brands, agreed, but added: “You need to very quickly lean into technology.” Most businesses, he said, brought in a chief technology officer to build systems once the company was up and running.
Global Travel Collection’s UK managing director Jason Oshiokpekhai advised against building a bespoke in-house system initially: “Even with a big war chest of cash, it’s still a question of time.”
He said seeking funds from friends and family to start a business was a good idea “because then you will use it wisely”. He added: “Follow your passion, but make sure it checks with reality.”
The panel told how Barrhead Travel had undertaken three years’ worth of IT development in one year during lockdown, with a digital presence now a must for any travel brand.
Traveltech for Scotland also saw a major transition among the industry there during the pandemic with several of these trends here to stay, as Ryan-Saha explained:
“The three things we saw the most were online bookability – especially visitor attractions – then a pivot to digital experiences (like the Edinburgh Fringe Festival) and also contactless technology.”