Terry Jones, founder of travel startup WayBlazer, spoke at the Skift Global Forum October 9 in New York City.

Jones is also the founder and first CEO of Travelocity and the former chairman of Kayak. His startup WayBlazer was co-founded with acting CEO Manoj Saxena, former general manager of IBM Watson. WayBlazer will license and leverage the natural language and cognitive search capabilities of IBM Watson.

Jones’ talk, “The Radical Technology Changing Online Travel,” covered how new technology is reshaping travel inspiration and trip-planning. Here are are nine things we learned:

  • “Travel is the sherbert between courses of reality.”
  • In the category of who knew….“I started my career as a receptionist in a travel agency 40 years ago.”
  • “Pinterest may have more travel intent data than any other site, so many people are pinning where they want to be.”
  • When airlines and hotels don’t act on the data they have about customers you might call it “dark data. The airline knows I sit in seat 4F, but doesn’t do anything about it.”
  • “We call them cancelled flights and the airlines call them off schedule.”
  • The IBM Watson computer system, which features natural language search and is a foundation of WayBlazer, “is sort of a liberal arts major” as it goes way beyond mathematics.
  • The IBM Watson computer system learns more about the user each time the customer uses it so “It is the first computer that’s worth more when it’s old than when it’s new.”
  • “The number one source of travel advice is still friends,” and expert advice is what is missing.
  • “We [WayBlazer] can make getting travel advice just as easy as a conversation.”

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Tags: kayak, sgf2014, skift global forum, travelocity, wayblazer

Photo credit: Mike Rhodin, senior vice president, IBM Watson Group, and Terry Jones (right), founder of Travelocity and founding chairman of Kayak, announced the launch of WayBlazer on October 7, 2014. Jones spoke about WayBlazer and trip-planning at the Skift Global Forum in New York City on Oct. 9, 2014. John Simon / IBM

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