Some of the biggest names in the sector are turning to Irish companies for future-proof solutions
After a challenging two years for the sector, travel is very much back on the agenda for many people, with airlines, hospitality and travel companies reporting strong demand as restrictions lift. For many Irish companies working in the TravelTech space, this means plenty of opportunities to grow business as travel operators look to return to profitability and adapt to post-pandemic challenges.
While travel in 2021 were mainly restricted to domestic and short-haul, in 2022, we are seeing the return of more long-haul travel, and a renewed focus on multi-generational travel as families reunite. We are also seeing a transition towards experiential travel and epic destinations, with people who accumulated savings over the lockdowns using these resources to create unforgettable memories. In addition, we are seeing a growing link between business and leisure travel, with people increasingly adding vacation days to business trips.
Another key trend as we move back into travel is sustainability. Consumers are more likely to consider the green credentials of their service providers, and in response, airlines including Ryanair and Aer Lingus have launched programmes to allow passengers partially or fully offset their carbon footprint. Another Irish company leading the way is fintech and business solutions provider Fexco, whose PACE platform analyses actual and predicted CO2 emissions in aircraft.
Over the course of the pandemic, and with the support of Enterprise Ireland, Irish TravelTech companies have been working to future proof their platforms with an enhanced focus on customer experience.
Many even came up with solutions to help travel companies navigate through restrictions during the pandemic itself. For example, Irish company Daon pioneered the world’s first widely adopted digital wallet for Covid-19 credentials with its VeriFLY product. American Airlines turned to Dublin company LetsGetChecked to develop its new pre-flight Covid-19 testing programme in an attempt to restart international travel.
However, as we now move into the recovery phase, hotel operators are facing a number of challenges as they attempt to return to profitability. For example, many are facing a significant talent challenge as many employees chose the lengthy lockdowns as an opportunity to retrain. Automation is a key trend in improving efficiency without affecting the quality of service. Direct booking using automation gives guests a personalised service and reduces costs for the business. Irish innovators working in this space include Arvoia, Revenista and P3 Hotels.
Analytics, optimisation and ancillary revenue are key to the rebuilding of profitability across the global airline sector. Irish companies leading the way with these solutions include Datalex, CarTrawler, Inflight Audio and Planitas.
Our relative strength in TravelTech is already beginning to show, with some of the biggest names in the sector turning to Irish companies for future-proof solutions. For example, in August 2021, Ryanair signed a license agreement with Optifly, a supplier of next generation schedule optimisation software. The airline recognised how Optifly’s scheduling software could support the company’s ambitious plans to grow traffic to 200 million passengers per annum over the next five years.
Having successfully driven ancillary revenue across the global airline industry for over a decade, Irish TravelTech leader CarTrawler recently announced a key partnership with Uber. This will allow Uber users across the US to browse and select rentals using the Uber app.
In December, Datalex, a market leader in airline digital retail technology, announced a deal to support Virgin Australia deliver on its transformation strategy. Virgin will use Datalex software to help grow revenue and enhance customer experience.
These are just some of the Irish TravelTech companies supporting the global travel sector as it recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic. Ireland’s growing reputation as a hub of technology innovation, along with our strong history in travel and aviation, will ensure that many more will be joining this list in the near future.
Karole Egan is Senior Development Adviser TravelTech at Enterprise Ireland.