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Travel brands need to dream bigger, Walker argues, and realize that consumers and venture capitalists are more ready for technology reinventions rather than improvements -- aka band-aids. Accepting that reinventions don't render everything obsolete is a great place to start with this imagination.

Is it better to improve or reinvent technology in the travel industry?

With billion dollar innovation opportunities more likely in travel than any other industry and five percent of the 60,000 apps in Apple’s App Store related to travel, for example, the world has never been more ready for reinvention, according to Jay Walker, founder of Priceline and CEO of Upside, who spoke in September at Skift Global Forum in New York City.

Walker feels that, while it often seems like the travel industry moves “glacially slow” with adopting or creating new technology, tech changes and advancements in travel have been swift in recent years.

He believes we’re in the midst of a golden age of innovation, especially for travel. “Travel embraces change because novelty is such a big part of travel,” said Walker…”In some ways, our biggest challenge in the travel industry is to take the limits off our own thinking.”

Encouraging imagination, he said, is the springhead of the travel industry’s future.

That imagination must choose to create ideas that improve a technology or reinvent it, Walker said. “If you try to create an innovation that is more than an improvement, something that offers the customer a new value equation, your risk is two to three times higher,” he said. “But the pay-off is 10 to 100 times higher.”

With reinvention, Walker argues, travel brands are leading and less likely to chase or be chased by competition.

People often look at Airbnb and Uber as being the exceptions to what most successful travel innovation looks like, Walker said, but he disagrees. “Airbnb and Uber are the leading edge but tomorrow they’re going to be the rule,” he said.

Watch Walker’s complete talk below.


Read more coverage of Skift Global Forum 2016

At this year’s Skift Global Forum in New York City, travel leaders from around the world gathered for two days of inspiration, information, and conversation for panels such as this as well as solo TED-like talks on the future of travel.

Visit our Skift Global Forum site for more details about 2017 events, including our London event in April of 2017.


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Tags: sgf2016, skift global forum, upside

Photo credit: Priceline founder and Upside CEO Jay Walker thinks that travel brands have a lot to gain from reinventing technology rather than improving it. Skift

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