Innovators Gather and Wow the Crowd in Hollywood

The opening speaker this morning, Philip C. Wolf, put our industry in perspective with this daunting statistic: Eight percent of the entire world’s workforce has something to do with travel and tourism. Wow! With this heady stat about our relevance, we launched into this morning’s parade of innovators, a group of a three dozen CEOs of companies who have developed new technologies and ways of using the web to enhance the traveler’s experience.

At first they kind of glaze over, so many silly names like ‘Cadabra,’ ‘Escapia’ and ‘Innovata’ which sound a little like car models. But after I heard many of these pitches a few of them really stood out as useful, ingenious, and destined to make a lot of money for their founders.

One that many of my colleagues agreed was going big is a site called The idea is simple: you email all of the confirmation emails you get from airlines, hotels and airport shuttles and this program puts them all together on a web platform so that you have all of that info on one place–your phone or your computer–and don’t need the ubiquitous folder full of papers.

The site goes further, allowing you to add in restaurant reservations, directions using Google maps, photos, notes and comments and with ability to put it all on a Blackberry or iPhone, it’s just very useful and so easy to share with family and colleagues who want to know when you’re coming.

Another start-up that caught my eye was Travelmuse, where travelers can share the elements of a trip to work together on line and create the itinerary. You can pull articles from other websites into the mix, and share a bunch of different pieces of information such as photos reviews and articles. They also have a widget that allows content sites like GoNOMAD to have readers add the link to the article they’re reading to their TravelMuse itinerary in progress.

After lunch another site that stood out is called Yapta. This site enables travelers to get emails about expiring frequent flyer miles and price reductions, so that they can squeeze every last mile out of the vast trillions of unused miles that languish in people’s accounts. You can get a refund if your fare goes down, just by signing up at their site.