31 May 2018

Startup Smartvel on live destination guides and how it thinks it stands out

Spanish start-up Smartvel specialises in providing “live” online destination guides to travel companies that can be embedded within their clients’ websites and apps.

Founder and CEO Iñigo Valenzuela talks to tnooz about the company’s latest client wins and future plans.

You recently started working with Singapore Airlines – how is that project going and what services are you offering?

The project is going really well. We have been in contact with Singapore Airlines since the end of 2017 when we presented our content solutions via video conference, and it was certainly something that they were looking for at that moment, so the project was soon up and running.

Our unique technology is capable of efficiently gathering, structuring, translating and geocoding – from hundreds of sources of information – all the live agenda of any destination: concerts, cultural events, trade fairs, exhibitions etc.

The system is also able to gather all the non-dynamic content such as sights and attractions, restaurants, tours and activities, and any bespoke layer of data that Singapore Airlines may want to include.

Singapore Airlines was interested on having all this content available for their users to enrich their destination pages where they have thousands of visits every day, and by doing so, they’ve upgraded the service to the next level.

This interface displays all the content in different categories in a user-friendly way, and includes great user features, such as selecting destination and travel dates, filtering by preferences, creating their own selection of things to do, and sharing it by email or social media.

The trip planner interface has been live on Singapore Airlines’ website since April 2018 in 20 of its main destinations, but we expect to increase this number soon, as we have had very positive results so far.

Have you got any more major clients in the pipeline that you can tell us about?

We are very proud of having first class customers in different verticals. One of our major clients, apart from Singapore Airlines, is the City of Buenos Aires, which is one of the first tourism boards to offer the live agenda of the city to its visitors and citizens via website and chatbot.

The chatbot is another product we have developed that uses the same technology and provides the same content via Facebook Messenger.

Recently, we went live on Air Europa’s website, and we are currently working on implementation for other airlines. In the hotel industry, we work with hoteliers such as Iberostar Hotels and Melia International.

Additionally, we help companies outside the travel industry to add value to their service. Mahou, the beer company, is a good example of clients who take advantage of the digital world and, therefore, fit into our portfolio.

What are your unique selling points to your travel industry clients? What can you offer that other technology firms don’t offer?

Our differentiation point is clearly our technology. We have won a prize in Spain for the best project in big data and tourism, and we are also very proud of our AI and machine-learning side with deep technology that can generate automatically the live agenda of the destinations. This is clearly differential and unique. We’ve invested more than 80,000 hours of programming in our platform, and this is paying off now.

At the same time, our selling proposal fits perfectly with the digital transformation of our customers, integrating seamlessly our solutions within their digital channels, with a unique and complete platform, and focusing on experiential travel – one of the most important trends in travel.

We have the content, but the important thing is what our clients – top players within the travel industry – can do with this content in order to deliver a better service to their travellers.

The digital world has changed how companies interact and retain their customers and leads. As touchpoints, we understand those moments where the company interacts with its clients, the moments of truth.

How will be upgrading your services over the next few months and years?

Competition is fierce, and we know that if we do not work on improving our services, our “blue ocean” will become red. That is why, we are constantly investing in innovative solutions that can help us anticipate travellers’ needs and allow our clients to stay ahead of their competition.

With the constant search for improvement, we keep on adding value to the different touchpoints of the customer journey and coming up with new ways to interact with the final user.

If our customers need to fill their planes or hotels on certain dates, why not generate automatically a bespoke offer of what to do during those dates in that city? If there is something going on that can make the decision easier, why not share it with customers? That is our next step.