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22 Jun 2018
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'Travel tech needs to have more of a ‘wow’ factor'

When was the last time a piece of new technology provoked a real “wow!” of amazement from you?

Opinion Richard Dixon 2
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"None of us like to waste food or money, and the article highlights the rising number of people wanting to minimise their impact on the planet and its resources, a growing trend we are seeing in travel for sure."

For me, it was discovering the world’s first robotic restaurant on YouTube. Yep, that’s right, a restaurant where robots do all the cooking.


The restaurant in question is called Spyce and has just opened in Boston. Spyce was created by four robotics graduates in association with Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud.


The kitchen robots create, cook and serve wholesome, delicious meals in three minutes or less for the princely sum of $7.50. Fast, healthy and great value – a winning combination for any restaurant.


Look up spycefoodco on YouTube and, like me, I’m sure you’ll be wowed. In fact, it is not hard to foresee robotic kitchens becoming the norm, especially in the fast-food environment.


The TTG feature on US travel agent consortium Virtuoso’s 2018 Incubator programme highlighted five tech start-ups.


I checked out all five. They are all nice ideas with some neat features, but there was no “wow” moment for me.


This I find to be true of much of the new travel tech I see. There is lots of “nice” and “neat” stuff floating about, but rarely do I get that big wow of recognition for a technological advancement destined to be an industry game-changer.


A recent TrendWatching.com article highlighted Chicago start-up Ovie, which is introducing a range of food storage products to help users avoid food waste.


Glowing Smart Tags change colour to indicate the age of the food, and an app sends notifications to the user’s smartphone when food is nearing its use-by date.


Ovie users can also pair the products with Amazon’s Alexa, allowing them to access expiry information via voice.


All very nice and neat, but perhaps the game-changing inspiration is more in the message of the article than the Ovie tech itself.


In a country where “up to 40% of food goes to waste” at a cost of $160 billion a year, innovators have previously seen “smart fridges” as the future.


But US consumers have not. Smart fridges cost thousands of dollars and are seen as being “tech for tech’s sake” rather than grounded in what consumers really care about.


None of us like to waste food or money, and the article highlights the rising number of people wanting to minimise their impact on the planet and its resources, a growing trend we are seeing in travel for sure.


By pricing Ovie at $60 and framing its innovation around food waste rather than smart tech, it is tapping into two powerful drivers of human behaviour – value and ethics.


The Trend article finishes: “Great tech innovation always starts with basic human needs and wants.” So whatever your industry, take a moment to ask: “Does the technology – devices, apps, platforms – we put into the world serve a core human need? And do we frame that relationship clearly?”


Therein lies the gateway to creating game-changing, customer-centric “wow!” tech, my travel friends.

 

Richard Dixon is director of Holidaysplease

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