With plenty of talk about “innovation” here at WebinTravel, what can mainstream organisations learn from wannabe entrepreneurs?
The WITovation Bootcamp earlier this week attempted to throw a light on entrepreneurship and innovation for the first time at the Singapore event.
The event kicked off with an unconventional presentation from Morten Lund, formerly of Skype, now investor in flight data up-and-commers Everbread.
Although Lund’s casual use of expletives may have taken some by surprise, his insights were actually invaluable for young entrepreneurs.
One point about social media and startups, from which I think we can all learn, is to avoid closed networks – they're dangerous.
Some of us get too involved in our own online social networks that we don't realize we're only communicating with small group of like-minded individuals, Lund says.
Meanwhile, a panel assembled to be debate innovation in travel, led by Tnooz’s Kevin May, probably threw up more unsolved questions than answers.
The dialogue, for example, was inevitably heavily slanted towards innovation in travel technology, with a stirring debate about the lack of free APIs in travel in comparison to other industries.
Although not tackled during the panel session, I feel as part of the Gen-Y Collective there is something else to consider.
Most travel brands have young creative people within their organizations that are willing to contribute their ideas.
So tapping in to these folk is crucial and, perhaps more importantly, a lot cheaper than recruiting outside talent.
If we don't keep young people in travel engaged, they will lose their talents to other industries.
Later in the day, while a group of buddingstartups were paired off with a string of travel industry “mentors”, the remaining delegates came up with their own new product.
Interestingly, it was a travel search engine, with results fed from social recommendations rather than link popularity or pagerank, which emerged.
If anyone's interested, we're still looking for our first $10 million in funding.
But jokes aside, it speaks volumes that when given the opportunity, a room full of travel industry professionals would choose to develop an alternative to search engines, or at least their ranking and algorithm.
So while the day was quite productive and insightful, I don't think the lessons learned were exclusive to startups.
It seems the industry is eager to change the way we do business – from search and inspiration to open source development of applications and sites, we all want something new.
As entities from outside the travel space enter the industry and start to put pressure on these "legacy" businesses to innovate, it will be interesting to watch whether they up their game or fade in to distant memory.
It's one thing to want to change, another to actually get the job done.