A Look Back at Our 2022 Skift IDEA Awards Alumni: The Industry Innovators

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As we continue to accept applications for the fifth edition of the Skift IDEA Awards – which since its inception in 2019 has celebrated over 60 winners across a range of categories – our mission to recognize and celebrate the most forward-thinking brands and businesses across the travel industry has never been more important.

Ahead of the final deadline, which is set for June 20, we are reflecting on the incredible achievements of our 2022 honourees. 

With us already having taken a look at the Change Makers, next up we have the Industry Innovators – those forward-thinking projects driving innovation across the travel industry. 

A worthy winner in 2022 was the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) and their campaign ‘The Original Original’, which was 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.

“Since being recognized with a prestigious Skift IDEA Award for The Original Original Campaign, The Original Original mark of excellence has and will continue to promote authentic, sustainable and culturally rich Indigenous tourism experiences across Canada and beyond its borders,” says Vice President of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC), Sébastien Desnoyers-Picard. 

“Now more than ever, ITAC is proud to be seen as one of the leaders among many global nations committed to growing their Indigenous tourism industries and being the only association to have an ISO accreditation for its industry.”

So, let’s take a look at these Industry Innovators and the projects that made them a winner at the 2022 Skift IDEA Awards. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Have you started your 2023 Skift IDEA Awards submission yet?

Don’t delay, as the regular deadline (the best entry rates available) is tonight, May 2 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Pro tip: Apply early for the best possible price, and continue to edit through the final cutoff on June 20.

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