Skift IDEA Awards 2022: See the Winners

Skift Take

Skift IDEA Awards is travel’s annual recognition of excellence in design, creativity, and innovation – honoring the brands and businesses pioneering the industry’s future. See the final results and meet the 2022 winners!

Skift IDEA Awards is travel’s annual recognition of excellence in design, creativity, and innovation – honoring the brands and businesses pioneering the industry’s future.

This year’s entries featured an array of forward-thinking design and purpose-driven creativity, from programs that spotlight important causes to innovative solutions to make travel more seamless, sustainable, and accessible. Without any further ado, here are the winners of the 2022 Skift IDEA Awards.

CHANGE MAKERS
Category: People & Community

Wheel the World – Accessibility Mapping System

For more than one billion people globally who have disabilities, travel can be challenging and frustrating, if not impossible. Wheel the World’s Accessibility Mapping System platform is designed specifically to eliminate challenges for people with disabilities, an audience consisting of about 15 percent of the world’s population often overlooked by tourism providers. 

Travel experiences have the ability to restore confidence and change lives, and that is something Wheel the World is working to make accessible to all. 

Through Wheel the World’s website and app, users create custom accessibility profiles allowing Wheel the World to recommend listings that are compatible with their travel aspirations and personal accessibility needs. Using AMS, “mappers” crowdsource real-time information on more than 200 data points such as staff training, wheelchair accessibility, transportation logistics, braille signage availability, ramp access, adaptive equipment requirements, bed height, room measurements and more. Wheel the World provides its clients with a dedicated travel advisor to ensure every accessibility need is in place before the traveler departs on a trip. With more than 400 listings across 27 countries on its Accessibility Mapping System, the company provides up-to-date accessibility information that allows individuals with disabilities to travel safely and confidently.

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CHANGE MAKERS
Category: People & Community

Neste – Transforming Gray Infrastructure Into Green: Delivering Sustainable Aviation Fuel Through Existing Oil Pipelines

Neste is leading the charge to power more aircraft with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), including transforming existing oil infrastructure to distribute SAF to airlines and airports across the U.S. East Coast. With more than a decade of experience with SAF and the world’s largest SAF producer, Neste, was able to offer a breakthrough in the supply chain by directly delivering the fuel to New York’s LaGuardia Airport through the Colonial and Buckeye pipeline systems – two crucial pieces of American energy infrastructure. 

Essentially, transforming existing oil, or gray infrastructure, into what can be considered green infrastructure, and oil jobs into what can be called green jobs. 

SAF is a direct replacement for conventional jet fuel that is produced from renewable waste and residue raw materials, such as used cooking oil, and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80% compared to fossil fuels on a life cycle basis. Once blended, SAF is chemically identical to fossil jet fuel, and works seamlessly with existing fueling infrastructure and aircraft engines.

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CREATIVE THINKERS
Category: Content

G Adventures – The Last Tourist

The Last Tourist empowers a mass-market audience with the knowledge and inspiration to make a positive impact, and change the way they travel. During the cinematic journey viewers meet local heroes who are leveraging tourism to preserve cultural heritage, sustain wildlife, and support the social and economic wellbeing of communities. 

The film took the team on a journey to 16 different countries that resulted in 400 hours of footage that was finally edited into a 90 minute film. The Last Tourist premiered at the Vancouver International Film Festival in September 2021, and has earned six further festival screening laurels.

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Credits:

  • Bruce Poon Tip, Tyson Sadler, Kyle Jordan, Andrea Giroux, Casey Mead

CREATIVE THINKERS
Category: Experimental

Lorem Ipsum Corp – Doorways into Open Access

Doorways Into Open Access is an augmented and virtual reality mobile app that takes people back in time to experience artifacts from the collection. Traditionally, museums aren’t perceived as being inclusive or welcoming places for the general public. The objective was to create an experience that brought history to people in neighborhoods and cities that may not have access to or ever visited a museum.

Proficient use of AR/VR technology empowered Lorem Ipsum Corp to create Doorways Into Open Access as an iOS app, allowing people to engage with artifacts and experience the museum’s vast offerings in the comfort of their own home. Lorem Ipsum designed 3D models of the artifacts based on 2D photographs. Every detail, facet, and material was replicated as closely as possible and at real scale. The 3D models were optimized to maintain their visual fidelity within Unity’s platform. 

To create an experience that is inclusive and accessible for everyone, Lorem Ipsum incorporated basic accessibility standards into the foundation of the app. From custom way-finding navigation beeps to haptic feedback and voiceover, the app was designed to fully integrate into the iPhone’s native accessibility features.

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CREATIVE THINKERS
Category: Marketing

Business Iceland –  Sweatpant Boots

During the summer of 2021, after a year of lockdown, leisure travel finally started to become possible again. Visit Iceland knew that first trip out into the world would be a huge step for people to take, both literally and emotionally. People had been shut inside for months, doing nothing and wearing nothing but the same old, sad sweatpants. So to help travelers get up off the couch and onto Icelandic trails and city streets, Visit Iceland created Sweatpant Boots – the world’s first hiking boots made from pandemic sweatpants.

These limited-edition, handmade, sweatpant boots were available only to those adventurous enough to come to Iceland (sweatpants in hand) to collect them. The world was invited to trade in their sweatpants for boots with a music video featuring Icelandic artist Cell7. The video drove to sweatpantboots.com, where travelers could reserve a pair of their very own sweatpant boots with a virtual fitting. Visit Iceland enlisted global influencers to film unboxing videos, and built and staffed a pop-up shop in Reykjavik. Open for one month only, travelers with a reservation could trade in their sweatpants and get their hiking boots – each pair painstakingly handcrafted by an Icelandic designer. Within 24 hours of launch, every single pair had been claimed.

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CREATIVE THINKERS
Category: Physical Experience

BRC Imagination Arts – Ravinia Music Box Experience Center

Coming to Ravinia Festival, North America’s oldest music festival, brings together several kinds of pleasure — the pleasure of great music, the pleasure of a memorable night under the stars, and the pleasure of good friends sharing their time together. Now, Ravinia offers a new pleasure: the Ravinia Music Box Experience Center featuring a unique immersive theatrical experience, “Bernstein’s Answer.” The Ravinia Music Box Experience Center is elegant, open, inviting, and contains a 65-seat wraparound 4D theater with a museum gallery space. The whole center is designed for flexibility and features modern architecture that is playful, engaging, and eco-friendly. It expands the offer at Ravinia by providing a multi-purpose modern experience venue that will invite visitors all year round. 

The challenge was to create an attraction that encouraged guests already on the lawn to see an artist like Sting, Common, or Bob Dylan to “bump into” classical music in such a surprising way that they’d later want to seek out classical music on their own. To achieve this, the creative team sought to meet the audience where they are. Employing tools like immersive media, 360 digital sound, astonishing visuals, and rich storytelling, the guest is placed at the center of an adventure into the heart of music, transcending speech and touching every heart. “Bernstein’s Answer” is the first multi-media, multi-sensory production to go into Ravinia Festival’s new Music Box Experience Center. 

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CREATIVE THINKERS
Category: Physical Experience

Praytell – Into The Lights: Canada Brings Its Iconic Northern Lights To New York City

In just 77 days from idea to execution, Destination Canada and Praytell brought one of the Great White North’s most iconic cold-weather experiences—the Aurora Borealis, or northern lights—to New York City, a priority inbound market. The immersive experience gave visitors the perspective of walking through the northern lights, thanks to a floor-to-ceiling mirrored light display that incorporated interactive visuals to emulate the mesmerizing beauty of the northern lights. 

The limited-time exhibit also honored the deep connection between the northern lights and the Indigenous population of Canada through native storytelling and an audio partnership with Inuit throat singing group, Tarniriik. A targeted local ad buy, social media campaign and win-a-trip sweepstakes complimented the immersive experience so New Yorkers couldn’t miss it. 

Earned media efforts promoted not only the northern lights, but the many other winter experiences Canada has to offer—from world-class ski resorts and charming towns to hearty cuisine and restorative wellness experiences. The fully integrated campaign drove a +30% increase in paid search impressions, and was covered by national outlets like FastCo, Thrillist, Travel + Leisure, plus local media including amNY, FOX NY and ABC NY, for a total of 180 earned media placements and 2.23B+ earned media impressions.

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CREATIVE THINKERS
Category: Product Design

Appnovation – Visit California – Dream Theater

To spur recovery post pandemic and appeal to consumers looking to book their next dream vacation, Visit California created “Am I Dreaming,” a celebrity-studded campaign to launch on Super Bowl Sunday. To complement the TV campaign and drive visitation to California partner websites, Visit California launched an all-new immersive digital experience. 

The DREAM Theater showcases the varied scenery and destinations in the Golden State, from the beaches to the mountains and everything in-between. The inspiration to create DREAM Theater came from the conceit of the mass media campaign, which shows that while California’s larger-than-life experiences may seem like the stuff of dreams, they are all real and available to visitors. 

The DREAM Theater website greets users with an idyllic vista of California and entices them to explore a sideways-scrolling journey to discover California’s iconic attractions and thrilling adventures across the five key pillars of California tourism: Beaches, Culinary, Family Attractions, Outdoors, and, Arts and Culture. Users can easily access travel videos, free travel guides, Visit California’s newsletter, the California Now podcast and information on California Welcome Centres.

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  • Project Website

NAVIGATING UNCERTAINTY
Category: Pandemic Response

Tourism Industry Association of Prince Edward Island(TIAPEI) & Tourism Prince Edward Island (TPEI) – Safe Haven Health & Safety Certification Program

During the pandemic, health and safety emerged as the number one concern of travelers. Prince Edward Island operators have been global leaders in minimizing disruption and mitigating pandemic risk for visitors. Based on a business case supported by Twenty31 analysis, TIAPEI and Tourism PEI have invested in a health and safety certification program for operators – Safe Haven. The program is powered by EarthCheck, a world leader in scientific benchmarking, certification, and advisory group for travel and tourism.

PEI’s extended version will utilize the EarthCheck online service platform and includes even more rigor than the globally recognized standard program. Safe Haven is a Prince Edward Island health & safety certification that gives a visitor peace of mind that the operator has met rigorous health and safety standards to ensure their safety and will be promoted accordingly.

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INDUSTRY INNOVATORS
Category: Airlines & Airports

SkyBuys – The Future of Travel Retail

The SkyBuys – future of travel retail project revolves around industry award winning IP & technology to help duty free & travel retail operators, airlines, airports and travel agents generate a significant increase in ancillary revenue through smart data-driven, retail technology. The technology is currently being white-labeled and integrated into various partner platforms that service the travel industry, which will allow SkyBuys partners to present duty free & travel retail offers, experiences, exclusives to traveling passengers before they travel – and allow retailers, brands and additional partners to present meaningful, contextual and relevant notifications to help passengers become more aware of what is available based on their unique travel itinerary. 

The airline industry currently has less than 5% of the total global duty free & travel retail market, and continues to rapidly lose its collective share. With SkyBuys technology integrated into their IFE(C) devices, digital channels, as well as part of their frequent flyer programs, they are able to leverage SkyBuys real-time data on passengers, locations and products to influence sales at any point to their passengers.The SkyBuys project was developed by world leading aircraft manufacturer, Airbus, to help deliver new services to its fleets and airline clients. 

Not only are they working with groups to increase ancillary revenue, but they are also exploring avenues to help airlines reduce 100s of kilograms of weight and unnecessary space inside the aircraft cabin. During the Airbus program, SkyBuys and Airbus highlighted how each twin-aisle aircraft can save over 300kg of weight by removing the multiple old duty free trolleys. The 3 main takeaway points translated to millions of dollars of fuel saved, higher efficiencies in crew operations and management, new seat allocation potential to lead to new seat revenues.

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Credits:

  • SkyBuys & Airbus

INDUSTRY INNOVATORS
Category: Hospitality & Lodging

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts – Women Own the Room

The tourism and hospitality workforce comprises 70% women, yet women have roughly only had 20% representation in the C-suite and about 10% in development roles. While the hospitality industry is not lacking women workers, the disconnect comes from inadequate mentorship, advocacy, and access to capital. Wyndham’s Women Own the Room program is actively making changes to remove these industry roadblocks. 

One major focus of this project is addressing the nearly 50% of women in business who lack consistent guidance, which hinders their progression through entrepreneurship. In response to this industry-wide challenge, key pillars differentiating Women Own the Room are financial, operational, and educational support. This program delivers comprehensive financial solutions to members through enhanced capital support, reduced initial franchise fee, and availability for new construction and conversion projects. This initiative also establishes an inclusive community for networking and education through hosted events that generate financing knowledge, guidance of feasibility assessments and shared success stories from women in hotel development. 

Women Own the Room is a natural extension of Wyndham’s strong commitment to DE&I including gender diversity, women’s economic empowerment, and advancing women entrepreneurs to level the playing field.

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Credits:

  • Lisa Checchio, Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts

INDUSTRY INNOVATORS
Category: Meetings & Events

TROOP Travel, Inc. – Plan Your Next Meeting in Minutes

TROOP has built a platform which aggregates all data required to plan a meeting. It enables anyone who plans a meeting to do so in minutes rather than hours or days while massively improving productivity, reducing cost and avoiding unnecessary CO2 emissions by proposing alternative meeting destinations. With TROOP, organizing a meeting has become easy. Today, TROOP is powering some of the biggest brands within technology, consulting and FMCG.

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INDUSTRY INNOVATORS
Category: Tourism

Business Iceland – Welcome to the Icelandverse

When social media couldn’t stop talking about Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement of his new virtual reality Metaverse—specifically, the questionable graphics and Mark’s robotic movements—Business Iceland saw it as the perfect opportunity to put Iceland’s actual reality at the center of the conversation and do it all in Iceland’s unique, playful voice. Within 12 days of the the Metaverse launch, Inspired by Iceland introduced the “Icelandverse,” a physically immersive, open-world experience that’s literally just the country of Iceland. The parody social film featured Chief Visionary Officer Zack Mossbergsson reminding travelers that Iceland is visually stunning, actually real, and can be experienced today—no silly-looking VR headsets required. 

The Icelandverse quickly gained global attention as the video racked up over 6 million views on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and yes, even Facebook. The effort had doubled the engagement rate of Iceland’s previous record, and within 24 hours of going live, Mark Zuckerberg himself weighed in, commenting, “Amazing. I need to make a trip to the Icelandverse soon.” And with over one thousand global news stories from major outlets like the Wall Street Journal, Daily Mail, The Economist, Washington Post, and CNN, the campaign earned over 6 billion media impressions—leading Inspired by Iceland to declare the “Icelandverse” their most successful marketing campaign ever, just 10 days after the film’s launch on social.

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INDUSTRY INNOVATORS
Category: Tourism

The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada – The Original Original

The Indigenous tourism industry encountered a number of challenges in the past few years. The most obvious is the global pandemic which disproportionately impacted Indigenous tourism, estimated to have set back the industry almost 30 years in GDP production and lost employment. There’s also the issue of culturally appropriated Indigenous tourism experiences that show an outdated view and inaccurate view of Indigenous cultures – but travelers don’t know what an authentic Indigenous experience is or where to find them. That’s why the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) launched a brand new campaign called the Original Original, which included a branded mark designed to help travelers better identify and support authentic Indigenous–led and owned businesses, reintroduce Indigenous culture to global travelers, and help rebuild what was lost during the pandemic, and help change the perception of what an Indigenous experience is. 

The goals of this campaign were to launch a program that can help travelers determine an authentic and culturally appropriate Indigenous experience, to raise awareness of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada, and generate interest in Indigenous experiences. 

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Credits:

  • ITAC/Suzanne Reeves, Director of Marketing

SOLUTIONS
Category: Business Outcomes

Hopper – Hopper Cloud: Supercharge Margins with Travel Fintech

Hopper is pushing the envelope on what online travel agencies (OTAs) can do for both travelers and businesses. In the last two years, the company launched a full suite of fintech products – including Price Freeze, Cancel for Any Reason and Flight Disruption Guarantee – that offer low-cost flexibility to consumers while generating profit. These risk-based financial services are tailored to the travel industry in a way no other fintech product on the market is, which is why they quickly proved to have a strong product market fit. 

Hopper’s fintech products are a breakthrough for travel because they create a brand new revenue stream for an antiquated industry. The success of Hopper’s fintech ancillaries in the app led to the next phases of its fintech growth: Hopper Cloud. With this B2B initiative, Hopper can distribute fintech and the resulting revenue stream to other travel companies. Available via API or full white-label offering, Hopper is leveraging its vast data assets and AI models to take on all financial risk of these products for its partners. 

Today, Hopper’s fintech offerings drive ~50% of the company’s revenue. Hopper’s current sales run rate is 10x 2019, and the company grew its revenue by more than 300% YoY in 2021. According to Apptopia, Hopper was the number 1 most downloaded OTA in the US in 2021. Additionally, Hopper was just named Fast Company’s Most Innovative Travel Company for 2022, with its fintech products being cited as one of the main drivers of growth. 

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Credits:

  • Frederic Lalonde, CEO and Co-Founder; Dakota Smith, Chief Strategy Officer; Ella Alkalay Schreiber, GM of Fintech

SOLUTIONS
Category: Traveler Experience

Sensible Weather – Weather Guarantee for Travelers

Sensible Weather is a Los Angeles-based climate technology and insurance company focused on helping consumers understand climate and de-risk the weather. The company was founded in 2019 by a climate scientist, Nick Cavanaugh Phd, and is backed by the National Science Foundation, leading VCs such as Infinity Ventures and Certares, as well as executives from pioneering hospitality and fintech companies. 

Sensible’s first product, a Weather Guarantee for travelers, is built upon cutting-edge satellite imagery and climate analytics developed from over a decade’s worth of research in industry and academia. Weather Guarantees give travelers the option to protect against bad weather when booking travel reservations online by automatically reimbursing their daily trip costs if they experience rain, poor air quality, or other undesirable weather during any day of their vacation. The service is designed to increase conversion on advance bookings, decrease cancellations in weather-sensitive destinations, and generate ancillary revenue for Sensible’s partners.

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Credits:

  • Nick Cavanaugh, CEO; Pete Van Dorn, VP, Business Development; Mark Bruno, VP of Product; Alice Fuller, Head of Engineering

TEAMS
Category: Communication Teams

Ketchum – Ketchum Travel, Hospitality & Leisure

Ketchum Travel is a communications consultancy that offers deep industry expertise across travel, hospitality and leisure, paired with specialty experience that understands how important these industries are in driving economic growth. Their work ranges from representing destinations, airlines, attractions, recreational activities, entertainment offerings to scouting the right audiences and shaping their perspectives. 

With a host of top-tier clients, Ketchum Travel, Hospitality & Leisure has put many destinations on the map. They have created cutting-edge start to finish campaigns for notable clients such as Discover Puerto Rico, Qatar Airways and ProColombia.

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Credits:

  • Aaron Kokoruz, Alejandra Benitez-Gutierrez, Alexa Mechanic, Amanda Gadaleta, Analia Brache, Anderson Calderon, Bettina Garibaldi, Claudia Marvin, Cory McBryan, Emily Kooistra, JenaLynn Fumega, Keisha Nelson, Micah Stubbs, Mike Marti, Nathalie Vanhooser, Sara Garibaldi, Savannah Bernard, Shiloh Carnes, Stephanie Chasi and Veronica De Los Rios

TEAMS
Category: Company on the Rise (Startups/Small Business)

Laya Technologies

Laya is the first company that enables hotel brands to sell entire vacation packages and increase their share of wallet. Laya’s cutting edge packaging technology and user journey has been specifically designed for hotels. No other solution increases hotel revenue and leverages hotel brands at a similar rate, allowing hotels to compete with Expedia and Booking.com for package customers.

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TEAMS
Category: In-house Innovators

Bologna Welcome – eXtraBo

eXtraBO is a multifunctional concept information hub dedicated to outdoor tourism. It brings together in one single place the features of an infopoint- with maps, brochures, paths, credentials; a shop selling outdoor- related experiences; an event lobby and a set of co-working spaces. It was prompted by Bologna Welcome, Bologna’s DMO in 2019. Located in the very heart of the medieval art city of Bologna, where all tourists converge to see ancient buildings, squares and the like, extraBO provides visitors with an unexpected gateway to the outdoor treasures of Bologna- among them the centuries- old Via degli Dei route, from Bologna to Florence; a quirky and extravagant Alhambra- style castle in the mountains; a trove of natural parks and oasis. 

EXtraBO proposes an effective hub model- one that brings together information, shopping experience and events as well as provides an innovative organizational and financial model, one that sees public and private bodies collaborate actively, and on an equal basis.. With eXtraBO Bologna made a major bet- investing on outdoor tourism in a city that was known for nothing but food and culture- and won big, anticipating a profound and relevant trend in travel and lifestyle. 

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Credits:

  • Bologna Welcome – DMO of the Bologna County (Designer, Project Management),consortia of local TAE providers (one led by Appennino Slow, Via degli Dei’s main experience provider – https://www.appenninoslow.it/trips), Bologna Municipality & smaller local Municipalities

TEAMS
Category: Creative Partner

Tourism Marketing Agency

Chris Torres and his team at Tourism Marketing Agency (TMA) have supported the tours and activities sector for many years not only through services but also through a wealth of free knowledge and advice. During the pandemic, TMA provided over 100 free one hour consultations to any operator looking for help and advice on the best way to save their business during the most difficult time. Not only that, TMA produced a free 200 page in-depth market research document, a book called ‘The Coronavirus Marketing Battle Plan’, as well as producing many video and podcast episodes on Torres’ show, The Digital Tourism Show. TMA also conducted a weekly webinar and invited operators to join and ask for advice. This support has proved to be invaluable to the operators they advised as well as the industry as a whole. Torres’ mission is a simple but challenging one: he wants to educate the tours, activities, and experiences sector and help operators to better acquire customers and grow their businesses.

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Category: VISIONARY 2030 (presented by JetBlue Technology Ventures)

point.me – Travel Better

Point.me is an award travel discovery tool that searches routes on more than 150 airlines to highlight award travel redemptions that would otherwise be very difficult to find, especially for non-experts. With point.me, you can not only compare all of your points and miles options in the same simple format you’re used to seeing for paid flights, you can also see step-by-step guides and videos on exactly how to choose the best deal, transfer your points, and book your reward flight across dozens of frequent flier programs. 

Point.me aims at being seamless and transparent  in identifying the best points values, quickly transferring points, and redeeming for award seats.

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Credits:

  • Adam Morvitz – Founder & CEO at point.me; Tiffany Funk – Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer at point.me

Congratulations to all the winners and shortlisted finalists! Stay tuned for upcoming content features with winners and sign up for notifications for the 2023 Skift IDEA Awards here.

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Tags: design, hospitality, idea2022, innovation, marketing, skift idea awards, tourism