At this month’s 2012 PhoCusWright Conference, the travel tech industry’s much-anticipated annual event, many in attendance agreed that the Travel Innovation Summit, held on Day One, was, always, a highlight. (Read our conference dispatches here and here.)
It comes as no surprise that some of the most exciting, buzz-worthy attendees and presenters were the wunderkinds behind travel start-ups and high-profile online products. At the conference, they breakfasted together behind closed doors, networked, and schmoozed investors. Travel + Leisure sat down with select Millennial entrepreneurs—or maybe a better moniker is disruptors?—shaping the next generation of Travel.
Tristan Gatsby Mace, the 23-year-old co-founder of the new website Want Me Get Me, is one in an elite group of “Young Leaders” designated by PhoCusWright. His hotel booking site, which launched October 2012 (read our coverage here) and is backed by some travel industry heavyweights, taps into the aspirational zeitgeist and secures VIP perks for everyday travelers.
Q: Where do you find travel inspiration for WantMeGetMe.com and in real life?
A: Cultures and people inspire my travel pulse. The world seems to always have another place that I have yet to explore—whether an alley in New York City or an ancient fort in Bahrain—and the possibility of what I may learn there has always inspired me.
My experiential mindset as a young Millennial has inspired Want Me Get Me as a product to make it easier for individuals to discover hotel gems and upgrade their stay for the same rates.
Q: Where do you think there’s room for improvement (or an opportunity) in online travel—content, tools, booking engines, etc.?
A: I think there are better ways to connect individuals to hotels online that yield a better guest experience offline. Products that are seamless and more personalized improve the travel experience, and that means more than just adding a Facebook button. We've built a booking engine that allows consumers to tailor their hotel stay with free perks at a curated collection of boutique and luxury hotels.
Q: What are your predictions for where the digitally powered travel industry will go in 2013 and beyond?
A: There will be a greater emphasis on mobile as it becomes increasingly more utilized, but the travel industry will realize that web apps are not dead and will continue to be dominant. I also expect more widespread personalization through big-data correlations that improve satisfaction and retention rates.
Q: What’s your best travel tip?
A: Even for the jet-setters, pack more than 45 minutes in advance and always carry-on.
Check Back: Next week, we interview Peek.com Founder and CEO Ruzwana Bashir.