2011 PhoCusWright Travel Innovation Summit Predictions

The PhoCusWright Travel Innovation Summit offers thirty travel technology companies the opportunity to pitch a panel of judges comprised of industry leaders on their customer value proposition, technology platform and business model.

Big money for the winner of the PhoCusWright Travel Innovation Summit

Based on the number of punks trying to stuff the ballot box, there’s big money to be won or lost betting on the 2011 PhoCusWright Travel Innovation Summit – just like betting on the companies themselves…
Photo Credit: Louish Pixel | Flickr

Leveraging the wisdom of crowds (attendees of PhoCusWright are supposed to be smart people, right?) and in the interest of having some fun, everyone following the conference on social media were invited to predict the top six winners before the actual presentation sessions started. Think of it like handicapping a horse race.

But before we review the results of the handicapping exercise, a bit of unanticipated editorial commentary on the process is necessary…

[Climbs onto Soap Box…]

At first glance, the raw results showed two clear favorites in the Emerging and Established company categories, with the Startup group looking like a tight four-way competition. Unfortunately, upon closer scrutiny, it seems that certain “fans” of various demonstrators (you know who you are) felt that their faves needed a little boost in the voting.

How could I tell? Well, they only voted for their company once – not for 2nd 3rd or 4th place as the other people did… Yes, individuals from multiple presenters were either lazy or stupid in their approach to astroturfing the vote tallies. The singular votes represented a whopping 51% of the total votes cast – a material number with a highly atypical voting pattern that was clearly differentiated by the other respondents.

Morons. Didn’t they know that a cardinal rule of astroturfing is to blend in with the crowd?

By sheer coincidence, I just authored a three-part series for Tnooz on how black-hat fake review optimizers combine social media and SEO techniques to undermine the reliability of travel reviews sites. Take a look at the second installment: Fake Review Optimization – How black hat masters beat the travel system

So here’s the moral of my sermon.

Considering that the motivation exists to game a goofy poll that has no bearing on the outcome of a judged competition, one can only imagine what steps these reprobates are willing to take when real sales volume and profit are on the line. More evidence travel marketers and their technology partners might not be as trustworthy as one would hope.

There is an excellent case for punishing this behavior by posting the names of these groups on a wall of shame. I won’t – the actions may have been undertaken by a single individual and not condoned by the company. They get a pass this time, but one never knows when I might need a good example of social media abuse for a speaking engagement in the future…

Sparing you the gory details, let’s just say an adjustment was made to mitigate the impact of these highly irregular votes. Does this mean the scrubbing process was perfect? No. Just like with review spam, it is very possible the smarter / less lazy ballot stuffers went undetected {sigh…}

Does this action invalidate the reliability of the survey? In short, no. The survey never claimed a scientific sample or process. The results were always to be based on what I call Trustularity – results that look reasonable and superficially appear to have authority based on their presentation. I merely took measures deemed necessary to clean the data to improve the veracity of the results.

This is exactly why PhoCusWright went to a 100% judging process – In the past, audience votes (which had to be done in person, with only one vote per terminal during a defined time frame) were skewed toward larger companies with more personnel attending the conference.

It was a smart move to eliminate the audience component. Next year, I’ll see what I can do to create a more reliable method to gauge authentic audience sentiment. And maybe add interactive parimutuel betting…

[Descends from Soap Box…]

Now, On to the (Adjusted) Results

Scoring was applied with six points for first place, five points for second, etc. down to one point for being rated sixth.

The high score recipients OVERALL (regardless of category) were:

  1. Hipmunk at 10:1
  2. Rearden Commerce at 13:1
  3. FlexTrip at 14:1

The top vote getters in terms of FIRST PLACE VOTES (regardless of category) were:

  1. Rearden Commerce (13:1 odds)
  2. (tie) SaveLikeLocals (20:1 odds)
    (tie) TripTV (26:1 odds)

For the three $15,000 awards, here is how the teams scored by Category (odds are for winning within the respective category only)


  1. Hipmunk at 4.6:1
  2. Flextrip at 6.5:1
  3. FlyMuch at 7.8:1


  1. TrustYou at 4.7:1
  2. TripTV at 4.8:1
  3. gtrot at 6.2:1


  1. Rearden Commerce at 5.4:1
  2. Tealeaf at 8.3:1
  3. MapQuest at 8.4:1

So, do you agree? Disagree? See a group where I failed to pull out all of their faux votes? Please use the comments are below to weigh in on how these varied from your predictions.

2011 PhoCusWright Travel Innovation Summit Demonstrators

On the other hand, maybe you sat through all 30 demonstrations and the memories for several of them are are blending together… Or there was the one that looked interesting, but the name now completely slips your mind…

If you are interested in learning more about these companies, below is all you need to know – their pitch, their website and their Twitter handle.

Amadeus on Twitter | Amadeus Website (Established)
The Pitch: Amadeus Dynamic Website Manager: A unique solution allowing fast, dynamic customization of airline websites, for each individual visitor.
CityBot on Twitter | CityBot Website (Startup)
The Pitch: CityBot’s mobile travel app helps travelers create personalized day itineraries based on their interests and constraints.
Evature on Twitter | Evature Website (Emerging)
The Pitch: Evature enables free-text travel search for mobile, social and regular websites, increasing conversion rates and user satisfaction.
ExpertFlyer.com on Twitter | ExpertFlyer.com Website (Established)
The Pitch: ExpertFlyer Seat Alerts get travelers into a better seat without repeated airline website checking. No more dreaded middle seats!
Flextrip  on Twitter | Flextrip  Website (Startup)
The Pitch: Flextrip allows online travel companies to utilize innovative personalization technology to market tours and activities to their customers.
FlyMuch on Twitter | FlyMuch Website (Startup)
The Pitch: FlyMuch is a Web and mobile application that helps people find and share travel experiences. Create, share and save your travel.
GroundLink on Twitter | GroundLink Website (Established)
The Pitch: Groundlink is the first global online and mobile private car service, reliably designed to give you a little peace of mind.
Groupize.com on Twitter | Groupize.com Website (Alpha)
The Pitch: Groupize.com is taking small group planning and sharing online and launching the only fully automated group hotel booking engine for 5 or more rooms. Customize, Maximize, Socialize.
gtrot on Twitter | gtrot Website (Emerging)
The Pitch: Discover great things to do on every trip with gtrot. Instantly see friends who live there, places they’ve been, deals and events.
GuestCentric Systems on Twitter | GuestCentric Systems Website (Established)
The Pitch: Deploying a boutique marketing strategy with mobile and social media using traditional channel and revenue management techniques.
Hipmunk on Twitter | Hipmunk Website (Startup)
The Pitch: Hipmunk’s flight and hotel search now integrate with your calendar, making it easy to visualize the best flights and best spots in a city.
Jetpac on Twitter | Jetpac Website (Startup)
The Pitch: Jetpac is making travel fun again. Travelers get inspired using their friends’ experiences as their guide.
Kony Solutions on Twitter | Kony Solutions Website (Established)
The Pitch: Learn about Kony’s leading applications that are designed to easily configure and integrate into a customer’s environment and take advantage of the mobile channel.
Liftopia on Twitter | Liftopia Website (Established)
The Pitch: Cloud Store by Liftopia brings real revenue management, analytics, pricing and distribution tools to ski and leisure ticketing.
Limos.com on Twitter | Limos.com Website (Established)
The Pitch: Pre-screened black-car services at yellow-car prices. Worldwide service available via desktop or mobile apps.
MapQuest  on Twitter | MapQuest  Website (Established)
The Pitch: MapQuest Vibe is a proprietary social – algorithmic platform delivering unique neighborhood rankings of restaurants, shopping, services, cultural attractions and more.
mygola on Twitter | mygola Website (Startup)
The Pitch: mygola.com gives you a personal travel concierge who uses our technology platform to find the best info from the Web for your trip.
myTab on Twitter | myTab Website (Startup)
The Pitch: myTab.co: a social travel gift card. Gift, save, plan, share and book travel. You can do any or all of this on myTab.
ostrovok.ru on Twitter | ostrovok.ru Website (Startup)
The Pitch: Ostrovok.ru is the leading online hotel booking service for Russia. Team from Yandex, Booking.com. VCs: Accel, GenCat, Peter Thiel.
Rearden Commerce on Twitter | Rearden Commerce Website (Established)
The Pitch: Transforming the way people plan, book and travel together.
Re-ticket.com on Twitter | Re-ticket.com Website (Emerging)
The Pitch: Re-ticket.com is the first online marketplace where consumers and travel agents can sell and buy their second hand tickets or overstock.
ReviewPro  on Twitter | ReviewPro  Website (Emerging)
The Pitch: ReviewPro enables hotels to leverage the social Web to improve guest satisfaction and increase revenue.
Sabre Travel Network on Twitter | Sabre Travel Network Website (Established)
The Pitch: The Sabre Red App Centre will be the world’s first online B2B travel app marketplace connecting buyers and sellers of Red Apps.
SaveLikeLocals on Twitter | SaveLikeLocals Website (Startup)
The Pitch: SaveLikeLocals lets tourists save like locals and boosts travel companies’ revenue from in-destination services.
Tealeaf on Twitter | Tealeaf Website (Established)
The Pitch: Tealeaf provides visibility into your customers’ mobile experience to identify then solve obstacles impacting your business.
TravelCarma on Twitter | TravelCarma Website (Established)
The Pitch: Cloud-based Applications Delivery Platform integrated with open-distribution TravelXchange that allows aggregation and multi-channel distribution.
Travolver on Twitter | Travolver Website (Alpha)
The Pitch: Travolver, Trip Lifecycle Management service allowing you to get personalized tours with local expertise by means of social networking.
TripAlertz.com on Twitter | TripAlertz.com Website (Emerging)
The Pitch: TripAlertz is a new global distribution channel that offers getaway deals to over 10M global customers via a robust API.
TripLingo on Twitter | TripLingo Website (Startup)
The Pitch: Customized language-learning products to help travelers make the most of their trips.
TripTV on Twitter | TripTV Website (Emerging)
The Pitch: TripTV combines technology with engaging, entertaining video content to offer Dimension – an online, self-service travel video portal.
Truphone on Twitter | Truphone Website (Established)
The Pitch: Truphone, the first global mobile network, will demonstrate how the Tru service uniquely answers the communications needs of international businesses.
TrustYou on Twitter | TrustYou Website (Emerging)
The Pitch: TrustYou ReviewAnalyst allows hoteliers and travel companies to analyze and react to the quality and reputation of their hotels.
Xtify  on Twitter | Xtify  Website (Emerging)
The Pitch: A mobile CRM company using persistent location, customer preference and app usage data to deliver relevant, branded messages to smartphones and tablets.

Thee winners will be announced on Wednesday morning during the PhoCusWright Conference Center Stage session. I will update this post when the winners are announced.

About Robert Cole

Robert Cole is the founder of RockCheetah, a hotel marketing strategy and travel technology consulting practice. He also authors the Views from a Corner Suite Blog and publishes the Travel Quote of the Day. Robert speaks regularly at major travel industry conferences, authors articles for leading travel industry publications, advises travel-related startups and the equity investment community. He is an evangelist for the global travel industry.